I Am Feeding My Baby, There Is Nothing to See Here

Written By: Felecia Causey
Models: Mia Collins and Ja'Nay Knox

Breastfeeding is one of those topics, that everyone have a different opinion.  Normalizing breastfeeding is a challenge that is ongoing in our society,  and mostly amongst family.  Did you know that breastfeeding can be both physically and mentally draining? The negative words coming from those close to a mother can be a lot of pressure. When she makes the decision to do what "she thinks" is best for her and her baby she is often shamed or criticized for that choice.

I am sure there are many breastfeeding mothers, that can tell you some awkward, stressful, and hurtful moments that have occurred on this journey.  When people find something that they are not familiar with, especially in families, they quickly become judgmental.

In most music videos or advertisement ad, women's breasts are commonly used to help push a promotion,  but the moment a mother decides to feed her baby in public, there is an uproar.   What a lot of people don't know is most babies don't like to be covered up.  The mother must make a decision to feed her child or worry about the negative comments and the horrible stares.

I know many people have so many questions for breastfeeding moms, but sometimes, a person's approach can be downright rude. Every mother and baby knows when they are ready to finish their journey. When people continues to ask a mother when she will stop breastfeeding her child because of his or her age, I am sure can become annoying. The timing will be based on the mother's and her baby's choice, and not on the opinion of what family and friends think should be the limitation.

Below you will see the interviews from the featured moms.

What made you choose breastfeeding?
This is my 3rd son and 3rd time choosing breastfeeding. My first time breastfeeding I was only 23 years old, no one in my immediate circle had done it including the women in my family. My OB asked me during a regular checkup and it struck my curiosity. I researched it following that appointment and after learning all of the benefits for me and baby, I sold. I continue to breastfeed because it has become easier. Not having to mix, shake & warm bottles in the middle of the night is a huge plus too! Lol

What encouragement would you tell someone that is planning to breastfeed?
Every new Mom I have opportunity to speak with who shares that they have decided to breastfeed I let them know out the gate that it will seem hard at first but they can do it! The body of a woman is amazing. As women ourselves we sometimes don't even realize what all it is really capable of! New Mom be patient! It took God 7 days to create this entire Earth. We are not God and it takes time for our bodies, our baby, and our milk to get in sync. I'd tell her no two women or two babies even if they both are yours, is the same. I'd tell her that her baby IS NOT HUNGRY and that her milk IS ENOUGH. I'd tell her to take those first 6-8 weeks to enjoy her baby and really learn what her body was made to do, breastfeed! 

What is something you wish someone would have told you before starting this journey.
I've always known "breast is best" but I really wish someone would have talked to me about my infants having cereal. What I mean when I say that is in African American culture we identify a "chunky" baby as a "healthy" baby and if that baby isn't "chunky" he/she must need more to eat. As a result we give our babies cereal way too much and way too fast. Studies have shown how rice cereal adds no nutritional value to our infants diets. It has also been directly tied to their desire for sweets and carbs over more nutritional items as toddlers, children and adults. Thus resulting in a lot of the diseases prevalent in our culture. One being diabetes. With my first son, I listened to my elders and used to make breastmilk bottles so thick I'd have to rupture the nipple just for it to flow. You live a little, you learn a lot. I have refused to do so with my 2nd and 3rd sons. MY MILK IS ENOUGH! I start them on veggies and then fruits once they begin to show interest in table foods. Besides why expose them to all of the arsenic in rice cereal if I don't have to, right?

 How do a mother deal with family members giving her a hard time about choosing to breastfeed?
Glad that you asked! Lol Stand your ground and use it as an opportunity to EDUCATE! We as people often reject what we don't know or understand because it's easier than attempting to gain understanding. I personally have faced many challenges. One recently when a family member got mad at me for dropping milk on their countertop while cleaning breast pump parts at their house. This family member requested angrily for me to "get that junk off his counter". He then committed to cleaning his counter with lemon scented ammonia and started that I was going to "kill someone". I assume my breastmilk was more harmful on his countertop that his family prepares food on than the toxic chemicals of ammonia he chose to clean it up with. You too may be subject to such pure ignorance. This society has sexualized our bodies, males and females alike, that we as a people really tend to believe that this is all it was made for and reject the natural use instead. Sis, breastfeed everywhere you go. Be strong when approached with pure ignorance but try your best even in the worse situation to use it as an opportunity for educating those around you. Your strength is contagious and you are not alone. Since breastfeeding my first son I have convinced all of my girlfriends, sisters, and sister-in-law to do so as well.

What would you say was the hardest thing about being a breastfeeding mom?

For the hardest thing was not knowing if my child was actually getting the correct amount of milk. I’m a first time so with him constantly being hungry I assumed he wasn’t getting what he truly needed. I called the hospital so many times just talking to lactation nurses and finally I got the swing of things. How important is it for family members to be supportive?
I think its extremely important for family members to be supportive because you already have others who are not supportive. If you constantly have people saying negative things it would cause you to feel insecure and possibly cause you to feel like giving up.
What advise can you give someone struggling with the decision of breastfeeding or formula feeding.
I encourage every mom to at least try it. No matter how hard it is,  don’t give up! There will be sleepless night but when you think about why your doing it and who your doing it for, that will motivate you to continue. Sometime you have to reach out to other moms as well for encouragement.

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