Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Top Blacktating Posts: 2010 Edition

Another year is ending, and I wanted to take the time to highlight some of my favorite posts from this year. The stuff that made me angry, made me smile and made me think.  If there was a post you particularly liked that I left off, please leave a comment letting me know!

Black Women Breastfeeding: A Multi-Generational Story. Yes, black women do breastfeed, and some African-American families do have a legacy of breastfeeding that has endured.

Did My Birth Experience Set Me Up to Fail at Breastfeeding? Too many of us have experienced an overly medicalized birth, where even seemingly benign interventions have gone on to cause problems. No wonder so many women are having so many difficulties with breastfeeding.

Why African Babies Don't Cry. Need some reassurance that your hands-on, attached parenting style is not only OK but pretty freaking great? Here you go.

New Nestle WHO Code Violation: House Parties. The post that got me a link on AOL Health News, launched BYOBoobz parties from Best for Babes and got me a shout out from Marsha Walker who called my blog "wonderful."

Target's Idea of Breastfeeding Marketing. Hint: it's light on actual breastfeeding. What happens to breastfeeding when it becomes all about the pump? Great conversation here on how and why some moms choose to exclusively pump and how marketing is influencing how new moms breastfeed.

Is Breastfeeding Intimate? What is your definition of intimate and would you use that word to describe breastfeeding? This post got a lot of intersting comments, on the blog, Facebook and Twitter, and even spilled over onto another blog.

Little Known Black History Fact: The Fultz Quads. A look at the beginning of the mass marketing of infant formula to the black community.

Empowering Breasts! How breastfeeding can actually be healing, rather than traumatizing, after sexual assault. Survivors can be encouraged to breastfeed as a way to reclaim their bodies, not only for themselves, but for their children.

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Friday, December 24, 2010

Parenting Magazines Without Formula Advertisements

The other day someone emailed me to ask whether or not there were any magazines for parents that don't advertise formula. As you've probably noticed, most of the mainstream parenting magazines are financed in large part by the formula companies. In fact, the breastfeeding articles in these mags are so poorly written, I've often wondered if this isn't part of the advertising deal, too. "Don't write anything that makes breastfeeding sound too good, or we'll pull our ads!"

Anyway, I live in the US and when I started to think about this question, here is what I came up with.

Brain, Child

Brain, Child bills itself as the "thinking mothers" magazine and there couldn't be a more apt description. This quarterly magazine features articles on topics like co-sleeping, weaning after a cancer diagnosis, adoption interruption, non-custodial mothers, abortion and politics that are smart and engaging. You may even notice some of your favorite bloggers featured within its pages. The ads are for things like boutique clothing stores, wooden toys, gluten-free food products, etc. There is nothing specific in their advertising requirements that prohibits formula ads, but my guess is you'll never see one in Brain, Child.

Mothering Magazine

I always think of Mothering as the original "crunchy mom"'s magazine. I discovered the online forums before I started reading the magazine. Mothering has all of your granola needs covered and in the magazine you'll find articles on everything from breastfeeding and natural childbirth to green living, babywearing, vaccines and homeschooling. Digital subscriptions are an inexpensive way to access the magazine, which I find sells out quickly at Whole Foods. I've never seen an ad for formula in Mothering and my guess is I never will.

Kiwi Magazine

Kiwi magazine's tagline is "Growing families the natural and organic way," and their focus is on healthy parenting. In Kiwi you will find articles on raising kids to be socially responsible and to care about the environment. It's also full of eco-friendly craft projects and healthy recipes. I've only been reading Kiwi for a short time, and so far no formula ads (although this month's issue did have an ad for an organic cleaning product that featured a cartoon mom holding her baby in a nursery and feeding him a bottle). So far I am enjoying the magazine. Kiwi is also currently looking for members of a new Parent's Advisory Board that will help them shape the magazine in the future.

These are the only 3 parenting magazines I've ever found that aren't covered in ads for formula and bottles. I enjoy all of them, although they are not perfect. Diversity is a problem for all of these magazines, both in photographs and articles tackling topics that are of interest to parents of color. Although there have been a lot of articles on race and parenting in Brain, Child, they have typically been from the point of view of white parents who are raising biracial children or who have adopted children of color. This problem is not unique to Kiwi, Mothering and Brain, Child, though. The mainstream parenting magazines don't tackle race and have very few pictures of people of color in them. And there isn't a parenting equivalent of Essence or Latina so our choices are severely limited. If I had to pick, I'd much rather read a magazine where breastfeeding is the norm.

Are there any other parenting magazines you read and enjoy that would appeal to natural and attachment parents?

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Celebrity Babywearing

Some lovely photos of celebrities babywearing, inspired by Leigh of Marvelous Kiddo.

Keyshia Cole

Kimora Lee

Laila Ali


Padma Lakshmi

Sean Patrick Thomas

Tisha Campbell-Martin

Camila Alves

Christina Milian

Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon

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Monday, December 20, 2010

The Gift of Confidence

Welcome to the December Carnival of Breastfeeding! This month's theme is the gifts of breastfeeding. You'll find more posts on this topic linked at the bottom of this one.

When I was pregnant in 2007, I knew that I was going to breastfeed. It never even crossed my mind to bottle-feed my baby. Breastfeeding was normal, natural and provided the baby with the perfect food as well as immunities. I also knew there were fringe benefits for me, including easier post-partum healing, weight loss (allegedly!) and a decreased risk of breast cancer down the line. What I didn’t know was that breastfeeding would in many ways shape the way I mothered my baby and the gift of confidence it would give me.

Like many modern moms, the message I seemed to get from everyone around me was that you didn’t want to hold your baby too much, that it was good for your baby to cry sometimes, that I should let someone else watch the baby so I could get a break, etc. But because I was breastfeeding, my baby really needed to be near to me and held constantly. Because I was breastfeeding, my baby rarely cried and when he did I assumed he needed to nurse and so I let him. I couldn’t really pass him off to anyone else for more than a few minutes, so I bought a sling so I could keep him near me and still get things done. I quickly found that sleeping with my baby made breastfeeding easier and helped all of us to sleep better, so we co-slept as well.

All of these things made me feel so confident as a new mother. Once we got breastfeeding worked out, I never had to really worry about anything. Baby fussy? Stick him on the boob. Tired? A little nursing and he’ll be out like a light. I knew how to keep my baby calm and happy, and it made me a happy and calm mama! On more than one occasion I had people remark that they were surprised this was my first baby because I seemed so confident, that new motherhood had left them frazzled, but I seemed serene. I give the credit to breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding gave me the gift of confidence to follow my instincts and parent my baby my way. What gifts has breastfeeding given to you?

Check out the other participants in this month's Carnival!

The Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog: A gift I never expected
Momma's Angel: The 12 gifts of breastfeeding
Breastfeeding Moms Unite: The gift that keeps on giving
Motherhood Actually: The gift of life: breastfeeding during a time of war
Massachusetts Friends of Midwives: The intangible gifts of breastfeeding
The Milk Mama: Breastfeeding: My baby's gift to me

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Friday, December 17, 2010

Should Black women feel guilty for not breastfeeding?

A new article in Science Online rehashed the recent study presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics annual conference this fall. You may recall the study claimed that there was evidence that black women "just don't want to breastfeed" and was based on surveying 62 black women in Camden, New Jersey.

The new article emphasizes again that some black women just don't seem to have the desire to breastfeed, and that the authors of the study think we need to find other motivational factors to "convince"  black women to breastfeed, since education doesn't seem to be the key here. The black women knew that breastfeeding was better, but still chose to formula feed. The authors suggest that black moms would benefit from one-on-one counseling in order to change their minds. Class is not mentioned overtly, but I can only assume we are talking about working class and/or very poor women here, since Camden, NJ is one of the poorest, most violent cities in America, having the distinction of having the highest crime rate in the country in 2009.

Now, I want to increase the black breastfeeding rates as much as any other breastfeeding advocate, but I'm curious as to what could be said to working class black women to convince them to try breastfeeding? Although it wasn't stated, would guilt tripping and shaming be a part of the techniques employed? I can't help but wonder what could be said to a woman who has no desire to breastfeed, even after understanding the benefits, in part because she probably doesn't have the kind of life that makes breastfeeding feasible in the first place.

I found this particularly interesting in light of a recent book I read, At the Breast by Linda Blum. Blum spent some time interviewing both white and black working class mothers on their attitudes about breastfeeding. The book was published in 1999, yet Blum found the same to be true: black working class women knew breast was best, had been educated by WIC counselors and their doctors, were surrounded by white colleagues who breastfed and still chose to formula feed. What was most intriguing for me was that the white working class mothers were wracked with guilt, while the black mothers were perfectly fine with their decision. She writes:

The Black mothers who rejected exhortations to breastfeed, seemed, in their telling, to be relatively free of the emotional anguish many of the white mothers expressed. In fact, as sociologist Carter suggested, rejecting medical advice may enhance some mothers' feelings of autonomy and well-being. Much of the mothers' discussion, however, was similar to that of the white mothers; they spoke of difficult life circumstances and a lack of the time, space and health that would help make breastfeeding a positive experience. This raises the question again of whether some mothers are better off rejecting breastfeeding--like these Black mothers--than feeling that they have failed at their motherly duty.

I can't help but agree here. Until we can change the circumstances for working class moms, how can we expect to convince them to breastfeed? Isn't energy better spent securing real paid maternity leave for women and laws to protect a woman's right to express milk at work, even at blue collar jobs? The women interviewed in Blum's book were janitorial staff at a large hospital, where the nurses were able to take breaks to express milk but they were not. When it comes to the working poor there is not even the guise of an even playing field. How do we expect breastfeeding rates to change when the life circumstances for these moms is still the same?

I also often hear breastfeeding advocates repeat this quote by Elizabeth Gene:“Women should not feel guilty if they are unable to nurse their baby, but they should feel guilty if they are unwilling to do so, and they should be intellectually honest enough to know the difference.”

So is this really where we are now? That even if you are being intellectually honest about why you chose not to breastfeed, we still want you to feel guilty? Only those moms who try hard enough get a pass? How does this help us increase breastfeeding rates, particularly for working class moms of color?

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Join the December Carnival of Breastfeeding!

We'd love for you to participate in the December Carnival of Breastfeeding. Our theme for December is. "What gifts has breastfeeding given you or your family?"  During this holiday season, we'd love to hear how the gift of breastfeeding has impacted your life.

Submissions are due by Monday, December 13th and the Carnival will be on December 20th. We're still using Google Docs to collect submissions, so please fill out this spreadsheet in order to submit your post.

As always, we're looking for posts that are:

- Well-written and grammatically correct
- Thoughtful and on point for the carnival subject
- Submitted by blogs that pertain to subjects of interest to our readers (breastfeeding, parenting, etc.)

If your post is selected for inclusion, you will be asked on the day of the carnival to edit your post to link back to each of the other participants in the carnival. Examples of past carnivals can be found here.

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