Breastfeeding For Prevention
In support of National Infant Mortality Awareness Month
As a breastfeeding family for over the past 7 years, I have heard my fair share of stories and comments. Some from the least expecting people… But the best thing about all the work and commitment it takes to breastfeed is the benefits for mother, baby, and community. Yet it seems that we have lost our cultural components to a watered down reflection of modern motherhood. Now don’t attack me for this… but if there was as much commercial pressure to breastfeed as there is to subconsciously rape women of their maternal birthright, by suggestion of using formula… Therefore changing the dynamic socially and economically and this is a strategy that many don’t see. How many women do you think are in jail today for trying to feed their baby, because they could not afford formula, so out of desperation and fear for her babies life… She resorted to theft as an option over her own breast… I probably wouldn’t be entering this blog post, with one hand as my baby suckels from my breast for bedtime comfort — If things were different? I’d be writing about how many healthy Black babies were being born into the African American population and basking in the love of the closeness and connectivity of being at their mothers breast. Nor would I have such things to talk about regarding disparities in the African American communities because, we would be thriving in our indigenous cultural practices as intuitive childbearing breastfeeders. We’d be in a utopia… instead of a crisis…
Breastfeeding in Reducing Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Infant Mortality
As a woman of color it saddens my heart to see that there is such a cultural divide in the oldest concepts in the world and people from the African American population, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are leading the race in yet another disparity. The question is, “Why don’t more African American women breastfeed?” In our soon to be released documentary ©”Women of Color” we address these issues from a past perspective, while adding to the ideals of futuristic concepts and cultural practices. While some of the responses were different, the trending word was “demonstration.”
In my own interpretation, communities where there are more disparities and unrest, there is no one demonstrating natural concepts around childbirth or healthy postpartum behaviors that speaks to breastfeeding as the thing to do. Some of the stories I have heard within the African American community were really shockingly ignorant. But ignorance can be excused when there is no teacher there to teach via demonstration because, we learn from what we live.
“I’m not gone let my baby suck on my breast, that’s nasty.”
“I am not trying to be no bodies food source.”
“I’m scared that my breast are gonna lose shape.”
“My baby daddy said, “That’s what formula is for.”
Sadly enough these are all very open ended ideas around breastfeeding, but they are limited ways of thought. The first part is that each of these women were more concerned about themselves than that of their baby. Even if she was not aware of the fact… these should not be idea reasons to reject breastfeeding as an option.
So in response to these answers I was driven to take a deeper look into the psychological issues of such responses and again I was led back to the keyword “demonstration“. I was fortunate that I had an Aunt that introduced me to the beauty of breastfeeding at the age of 9 years old because, I was not introduced to this by my own mother. I was fascinated that our bodies produced its own milk for our babies once they were born. I had seen animals feed their babies the same way, but not until I saw this “demonstrated” by a human was this a notable reality.
So now almost 27 years later, I see the emotional and economic disparities of not knowing the benefits of breastfeeding, which leads to a normalization that did NOT use to be in the culture of the African familial structure. Yet now here in America we have such vanity and even shame that does not readily bring such awareness to mothers from vulnerable populations. Women are not given these tools early on, in prenatal care, when physicians are contracting with pharmaceutical companies about the hottest infant formula. Also the mothers are so trusting of their care providers that they seldom even question the power of their own bodies. This is a new type of enslavement… This is a new way of life… And we just don’t get it because, subliminally the desire has been taken away to be — the mother.
This is not just an issue for the developing world. The U.S. now ranks 41st in the world in infant mortality. Much of our low ranking can be attributed to our high rates of infant mortality in African American babies; more than double the rate of whites. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that the infant mortality rate for African Americans is 12.40 per 1,000 infants, while the rate for Whites was 5.33 per 1,000. (READ MORE HERE)
Breastfeeding as A Declaration of Human Welfare
In 1978 there was a conference held from practicing physicians down to community health workers, for the formation of a declaration called the Declaration of Alma-Ata. This was designed to bring equitable healthcare to every population in the WORLD. This was not exclusive to certain places or to elite populations. This was designed for the whole of humanity to make healthcare a primary issue. From my studies with, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, exclusive breastfeeding and maternity care were primary solutions to sustain even the most underserved, poor population of people.
Although the projected date of implementation was in year 2000 was devoted to peaceful aims and in particular to the acceleration of social and economic development, of which primary health care, as an essential part, should be allotted its proper share, we are still at a long stretch to accomplish such a goal.
The more aware we are of our bodies abilities and purposes within nature, the less resistance we will have. The more we learn to identify, with the beauty of our womaness, the more of an erect posture “women of color” would pose within our communities, mentally and emotionally. Thus establishing a social picture of thriving relationships and babies, even in the most underserved, undereducated populations, therefore closing the gap of infant mortality in the African American community with the simple demonstration of breastfeeding.
Want to get more information on the mutual benefits of breastfeeding CLICK HERE!
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Breastfeeding saves lives.