Finding a support system is so important to any new parent. With a recent CDC study regarding breastfeeding statistics finding that interventions are needed to address barriers experienced disproportionately by black mothers in their feeding journeys, community organizations and their team are incredibly necessary. Today, we feature the New York based group Attached. Carolina and Anastasia, who run the group, share their personal feeding journeys and the special community their organization offers.
We are very excited to be showing support for black mothers, fathers, parents and infants during Black Breastfeeding Week. For more information, Black Breastfeeding Week shared their top 5 reasons for needing Black Breastfeeding Week here.
Tell us about Attached, and who is behind Attached?
Attached is ran by two moms, Carolina and Anastasia, but Attached is really a community. Our community was started to support Parents of Color living in low income neighborhoods like ourselves who were seeking a natural holistic intuitive approach to parenting. It started as light support in various parenting methods and quickly snowballed into outreach for caregivers in crisis situations. In all things we want equity and equality for all, sometimes that means bridging the gap with our own bodies and all of our Attached babies in tow. We are dedicated to helping other parents in need and in conjunction with World on MY Shoulders we are able to further our reach and continue to support caregivers in their unique journeys.
How would you describe your own feeding (nursing or otherwise) journeys?
I would describe my latest nursing journey with my 2 year old son as bumpy then semi smooth. The earlier weeks were a struggle.
It hasn’t always been easy but I have a lot of patched up boo boos, naps, early bedtimes, and numerous redirection saves I’ll always be grateful for because of breastfeeding.
What resources or support helped you on your journey(s)?
My greatest support was my community. Who backed me up when I needed help. Unfortunately when I tried to get help from doctors and nurses I was met with misinformation.
I grew up in Guyana where breastfeeding was normal and practiced widely. I myself was breastfed until 6 and always knew I wanted to with my own children. Even with my resolve I was not ready for the journey alone unsupported. In Carolina and our community I found the strength to persist through many ups and downs.
Did you have any complications or challenges on your feeding journey?
Yes, my son was born prematurely and spent a little while in the nicu. While there I was told I should pump and that nursing was probably not going to happen. This hospital also threw a curtain around me so that any of the fathers who might have come in would not feel uncomfortable even though I was the only parent in the room. Once I got home I had to work on weaning my baby off the bottle and onto the breast.
My son was born via cesarean section and I was not shown a proper latch during recovery. I was left alone with him after the operation at which point I fell fast asleep with my newborn suckling away. By the end of my hospital stay my nipples were cracked and bleeding. I hand expressed and fed him with a spoon for almost two weeks before I finally figured out how to latch him on correctly.
What, if any, misconceptions of nursing did you encounter?
Breastmilk alone is not enough especially for a boy. My baby in the nicu needed formula to grow strong.
After a year breastmilk no longer benefits the child’s nutritional needs – first dentist
Why do you think it’s important to have Black Breastfeeding Week?
Black breastfeeding week is important because of the misconceptions and myths that surround our communities when it comes to breastfeeding. There’s a stigma around breastfeeding and with proper information we can surpass the stigma.
There is a long and painful history behind Black health and lack of equitable health care. Breastfeeding is optimal nutrition for babies but many Black people worldwide are not afforded the luxury of choice. The choice to stay home to establish a proper milk supply before maternity leave is up around 6 weeks if you’re lucky. The choice to question their doctor’s advice as being based on racial motivated stereotypes of Black people. The choice of finding a doctors who will accept Medicaid and give you the same care as the privately insured. Black breastfeeding numbers reflect the absence of choice, information and support for Black caregivers seeking breastfeeding as an option. Black breastfeeding week is the collective cry of outrage for our women and babies who continue to slip through the cracks of the health care system.
Do you have any specific advice to share with anyone looking to nurse?
Follow your gut if something doesn’t sound right to you research and then research some more. Surround yourself with a supportive community and learn to trust your intuition. Sometimes you just need to relax, take a well deserved nap and take it one day at a time.
Is there one particular story that stands out, of a family you were able to help support on their feeding journey, that you’d like to share with us?
Along our six year journey we have aided many families in their breastfeeding journeys. It is really difficult to pin down one or even a handful of interactions that haven’t imprinted on our hearts for life. What we can say is it is really something special to witness when a parent nurses with the aid of a carrier for the first time. It’s like this moment of absolute timid wonder and amazement then realization that they can actually see this being kinda sorta practical and then months later to have those same parents say that they are still nursing because of their carrier.