Why is breastfeeding a “white” thing?
My side of the family is a little more excepting of breastfeeding but it is still seldom done by the younger members. My grandmother breastfed for a short while, my aunts breastfed as well for an even shorter period and my cousins never breastfed at all outside of the hospital. Though my family is much more excepting of breastfeeding there are a long list of stipulations:
1. No breastfeeding past a year - “After a year they are too old to breastfeed, you better pump it into a cup”
2. You have to use a cover or isolate yourself completely- “Nobody wants to see all that”
3. The number of times you nurse or length of time you nurse is limited -”He isn’t hungry! He’s using you as a pacifier! You feed him to much! Are you still feeding him? That’s way too long. Start giving him rice cereal.”
For my husband, the idea of breastfeeding, was new and foreign. It wasn’t anything he was exposed to beforehand and he wasn’t very excepting of it right away. The change in him was gradual and I must admit came about for selfish reasons. When he first heard that I was going to breastfeed, he asked why I had to be different. He couldn’t understand why I couldn’t just give him a bottle like everyone else and kept accusing me of trying to be abnormal on purpose. He saw breasts as sexual objects strictly to be used by him. When he accepted the fact I couldn’t be moved on my decision, he tried to implement a list of rules: No breastfeeding outside the house, no breastfeeding in front of the kids, always use a cover, and so on and so forth. It was a very difficult time for our relationship because he just couldn’t see breastfeeding as a natural and beautiful thing. It was exhausting trying to get him to understand that just because he hadn’t any experience with it, that didn’t make it wrong. What finally made my husband see the light was after our son was born. It was 3 am and my husband had to be at work at 6 am. The baby wakes, and begins to cry, but within about a minute all was quiet again. I had whipped out my breast so fast and got the little one back to sleep so quickly that my husband barely missed a wink. He told me that he was so glad I had “those” things. From then on he was a believer in the almighty power of breasts. He was so happy that I was able to comfort our baby so quickly. Not to mention the fact that with him being the sole breadwinner, he was saving loads of money by not having to purchase formula. Though time has gone on and he has become more comfortable with breastfeeding he still has a bit of a way to go. For instance he is still a stickler about using a cover and breastfeeding in public altogether.
For me, sometimes being Black and Breastfeeding is like being alone on a deserted island. Where are all of my fellow black breastfeeding mommas? They don’t exist in my family, in my group of friends, my coworkers, until now with Meet, Nurse, Love breastfeeding support groups I’ve attended in the past were non-existent, they weren't anywhere. I just wished there were more of us out there. It could be that I was mistaken then and they just weren't in my area and if so that sucks, especially for the people that are in need of the support I've found at Meet, Nurse, Love. I mean, until now breastfeeding would've be so much nicer if I didn’t feel like I was one of the only sisters doing it in the neighborhood. I thought, if I could meet others like me struggling to make breastfeeding the norm in our community, or even in just our families, it would be a relief knowing I wasn’t alone in the struggle. Hopefully, by standing up and supporting the normalization of breastfeeding and the continued growth of Meet, Nurse, Love in our community new black moms would see that it’s not strange to nurse our little ones, and families will nurse their babies without a second thought. I also hope that some of us women with similar struggles of be accepted in our family can gather together and be a sense of strength for each other. I know I sure could use that help and support.