Black breastfeeding week

All we need is One Tit, One hour: My experience of being robbed of the breast crawl

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When all is said and done I luckily and wholeheartedly enjoyed the 15 months of my breastfeeding experience, especially that I did it past the recommended 6 months and truly bonded with my baby. It wasn't all easy in the beginning. I struggled with formula feeding my son from 5 months while still nursing and thought I was a failure for it. I believed I could not make "enough" milk and that the milk I had was not sufficient for his sustenance. No family member had any advice to give me as I was one of the first among my generation to have a baby and the elders who were in close proximity did not have experience with breastfeeding, I was not breastfed. All of this was during the time I returned to my graduate studies and work after taking off one semester, but I was determined to continue nursing at night and throughout the day when I was home.

At the point of separation to continue my education and earn a living to feed my family, I still was grateful that my son was nursing at all though disappoinment that formula had been incorporated existed. It was blissful and, seemingly, a blessing to have made it all the way from my very doubtful initiation upon delivering at the hospital. I was in great doubt then of a guaranteed latch after being, I say this again and will continue to say it, robbed of my one hour skin to skin and breast crawl experience because resident physicians and my assigned physician insisted that my son get cleaned up and needed to be administered vitamin K and eye ointment, the latter I would not consent to though the former was mandated. With no doula, a birth plan and family members who somewhat supported my voice, until the doctor trumped it because of their trust in them, I was too exhausted to fight any more than I already had throughout my labor against being reminded to keep my gown on, having my cervical membrane skipped, without my permission, and being denied the opportunity to squat when pushing. I was through the fighting and defense, my treasure was delivered and I was too tired to demand that I get my skin to skin and I did not even know what the breast crawl was at the time, nonetheless I'd been robbed. Robbed of an otherwise beautiful and natural experience. And I was alone. Surrounded by people, humans, but separated from my baby that I gave birth to and denied the skin to skin that I did request in my birth plan (hyperlink) that I had my physician sign off on during my prenatal visit. With one hour skin to skin the baby naturally makes its way to its mother's breast in order to self latch by crawling from the stomach area where they would be placed and helping the mother deliver her placenta by applying pressure with their brand new feet. I was not given the understanding, patience, or even education about breast crawl.

I want to hear from you. What was your birth experience like? Did you have all the liberty as you wished, well informed or felt restricted? Did you choose to breastfeed. If so upon delivery?

"I am a conduit advocating for women and children empowering them to know their true selves, and identify their purpose by way of education, love, and understanding."

Farahly Ayodele Saint-Louis is a Doula and coordinates programming related to reproductive justice. She received a Bachelor of Arts from the City College of New York and also acquired a Master’s of Science at Hunter College. A native of New York, Ayodele holds strong ties to her Haitian origins. Inspired by a trip to Haiti in September 2009, she is determined to shed light on the taboo subjects of sexual violence and reproductive wellness among women and children through art therapy in Haiti and other developing nations. As a member of Big Apple Playback Theater Ayodele continues to utilize the arts as an outlet for healing and enjoyment supporting others in doing the same. She has a strong passion for, and seeks to contribute to, psycho-social improvement and healing, through the arts, birth work, and programming in developing societies with respect to women and children’s rights. Ayodele believes in the possibility of approaching the political process through a social justice lens and honoring humanity with the hopes of influencing the current state of the system. 


Farahly Ayodele Saint-Louis is a Doula and coordinates programming related to reproductive justice. She received a Bachelor of Arts from the City College of New York and also acquired a Master’s of Science at Hunter College. A native of New York, Ayodele holds strong ties to her Haitian origins. Inspired by a trip to Haiti in September 2009, she is determined to shed light on the taboo subjects of sexual violence and reproductive wellness among women and children through art therapy in Haiti and other developing nations. As a member of Big Apple Playback Theater Ayodele continues to utilize the arts as an outlet for healing and enjoyment supporting others in doing the same. She has a strong passion for, and seeks to contribute to, psycho-social improvement and healing, through the arts, birth work, and programming in developing societies with respect to women and children’s rights. Ayodele believes in the possibility of approaching the political process through a social justice lens and honoring humanity with the hopes of influencing the current state of the system. 

Here's Why Black Mothers Can't Breastfeed As Much As Other Women

Mario Tama/Getty Images News/Getty Image

Mario Tama/Getty Images News/Getty Image

By Jen McGuire

It's probably safe to say that the most satisfied kind of mother out there is a happy, healthy mother. Someone who has options, community support, and is able to make educated choices about how she would like to raise her baby. In 21st century America, one would think this description encapsulates most groups of parents. Unfortunately, a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that was not the case. Specifically, the report uncovered several alarming reasons why black mothers can't breastfeed as much as other women.

The CDC looked at racial and geographical breastfeeding trends over a four year period, from 2011 to 2015. Researchers considered women in 34 states and tracked their breastfeeding statistics through the National Immunization Survey (NIS), specifically looking at breastfeeding initialization, exclusive breastfeeding until the age of 6 months, and whether or not mothers were continuing to breastfeed until 12 months. The study found a significant difference in the number of black women who were exclusively breastfeeding for the first six months in comparison to white women (a full 10 percent difference) who were doing the same. The reason for the disparity? According to the CDC:

Certain barriers are disproportionately experienced by black women (e.g., earlier return to work, inadequate receipt of breastfeeding information from providers, and lack of access to professional breastfeeding support) .

The report also noted that the lack of support for black mothers begins at the hospital. Zip codes with a higher black population were less likely to "meet five indicators for supportive breastfeeding practices (early initiation of breastfeeding, limited use of breastfeeding supplements, rooming-in, limited use of pacifiers, and post-discharge support), than those located in areas with lower percentages of black residents," the report concluded.

To increase rate of breastfeeding among black infants, interventions are needed to address barriers faced by black mothers https://t.co/53lVFzxLRl

— Dr. EFleming (@DrEFleming7) July 13, 2017

This is a serious problem, not just for babies but for their mothers. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby's life. Breastfeeding is hugely beneficial to both mother and baby, when possible. It protects babies from potential infection, reduces the risk of ovarian and breast cancer for mothers later on in life, and also aids in less postpartum bleeding. Not to mention the emotional benefits of bonding with your baby through breastfeeding and the fact that it is environmentally friendly (zero waste, of course). The fact that black mothers are disproportionately less able to breastfeed their babies because of socio-economic factors and lack of postpartum support is unconscionable.

CDC

So how do we go about effecting change, and supporting black mothers who want to breastfeed their babies? Several organizations are already in existence to combat the disparity between black and white mothers and their breastfeeding support. EMPower Breastfeeding: Enhancing Maternity Practices, is an organization supported by 93 hospitals across the country. It is funded by the CDC, and works at the hospital level to encourage breastfeeding support. Another organization, Black Mothers Breastfeeding, is a not-for-profit dedicated to "making a national impact on the reduction of racial disparities in breastfeeding success for black families." The organization provides education, resources, and continued support to black families who would like the opportunity to breastfeed.

Because parenting is supposed to be about making informed, supported choices. Not trying to parent your way around external limitations.

via Romper