Monday, January 30, 2012

Pumpin Ain't Easy

Most moms eventually return to work and with the sad 12 week leave (or less) that most of us are entitled to in the US, if you plan on breastfeeding for the recommended first year of life you're going to need a pump.

There are tons of blog posts, books, forums and websites dedicated to giving moms tips on how to combine breastfeeding with work. Make sure you buy a good double electric pump! Always keep extra storage bags and pump parts at work! Here's how to talk to your boss about setting up a space for you to pump! These bottles are best for breastfed babies and don't forget the slow flow nipples! Wow, pumping at work is now protected by law! And on and on and on.

What is implied in these blog posts and message boards and websites is that if you do it right and have all the accoutrements, that you can totally work full time outside of the home and continue to breastfeed your baby. I'm here to tell you that is a lie. Even under the best conditions, with a supportive boss and co-workers, a door that locked on my own office, hell, even being the boss myself! and owning top of the line breast pumps and even renting a hospital grade pump..... I couldn't pump successfully.

This lie that breast pumps quickly, easily and efficiently put milk into bottles is so pervasive that every mom asks for a pump on her baby registry and everyone assumes she will use it so her husband/partner/mom can give the baby a bottle. Many women who find the idea of breastfeeding icky say they'll just pump and give the baby breast milk in a bottle.

Thirty minutes of hard work pumping BOTH breasts

Let me let you in on a secret: pumps don't magically suck out all of the milk from your breasts. YOU have to actually have a letdown for the pump to extract the milk. And many women simply cannot letdown for a machine the way they can for their own sweet baby. This means that you can have a full milk supply and not pump enough for your baby. It also means your supply will diminish over time because you are not removing enough milk, but in the meantime you can suffer from plugged ducts and mastitis until your supply regulates. No pump is as efficient as your baby but for some women the pump is practically worthless.

And before you say, "You should hand express!" let me stop you and say I cannot for the life of me figure out how hand expression works. I've watched all the videos and I've never been able to get more than a few drops out that way.

How did we get here? How did we get to a place where everyone assumes pumping is easy and of course they will be able to maintain a full supply when they return to work? Almost every woman I know has really struggled to maintain breastfeeding while working and the main reason is they couldn't pump at work what their baby needed at daycare. Some did OK until the infamous "six month slump" but many, like me, found their supplies dwindled down to nothing in mere weeks.

With Miles I barely made it two months before he was almost exclusively getting formula at daycare. Thankfully I was able to take advantage of my employer's generous 6 month leave so he was nearly nine months old and so in love with breastfeeding that my boobs still made enough milk to nurse in the morning and before bed. He was sleeping through the night but got a bottle or two of formula a day in addition to solid foods and nursing a few times on the weekends. It wasn't ideal and I was annoyed but he went on to nurse for 3 years and overall I think he got mostly mama milk for the first year and I'm OK with how things turned out.

But Aminah isn't even four months old and I have no freezer stash and we are already having to supplement. She is nowhere near sleeping through the night and we haven't started solids. My supply is slowing down and I can easily see her being fully formula fed by 6 months. That is NOT OK with me. It's actually beyond fucked up. I do not want my baby getting formula when, if she were with me there'd be no need for it. I make plenty of milk for her and she's happy and healthy. I don't want to have to get up in the middle of the night to fix bottles, I don't want to jeopardize her health with formula at such a young age and I don't want her rejecting the breast for the bottle, even if I could pump enough for her which I can't.

If she ends up being a formula fed baby I won't feel guilty but I will feel angry. Who decided that we should be fighting for the right to pump at work instead of fighting for paid maternity leave? And who keeps perpetuating the myth that every woman can pump and provide milk for her baby? You can do everything "right" and still end up failing. And THAT'S what truly sucks.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Louisville Black Breastfeeding PSAs

The city of Louisville, KY has created four new breastfeeding PSA as part of its Mayor's Healthy Hometown Movement "Good for your body, great for EVERYbody" campaign. The aim is to make Louisville one of the healthiest cities in the country, a lofty goal. The PSAs focus on one family and show the benefits of breastfeeding for mom and baby, and how dads and grandmas can support mom to make breastfeeding successful. You can check out all of the videos below.

It looks like they took a page out of the etrade baby commercials playbook to create the ads. I like that the city understands the importance of breastfeeding in creating a healthier community. I'm sure some people may criticize them for showing bottlefeeding in the "Big Momma" and "Dad" breastfeeding videos, and encouraging moms to use covers when nursing in public, but I think the reality is that most moms do return to work and use bottles and many moms don't feel comfortable breastfeeding in public without some sort of cover up. And no matter how many times breastfeeding advocates say it's not true, most people still think dads and grandmas need to give the baby a bottle in order to bond with her. Many people still believe breastfeeding in public is nasty, with or without a cover, so I like the message that it's perfectly natural. Since we know how important support is from partners and mothers, particularly in the black community, I think the ads work well. I like the promotion of breastfeeding as a family affair, because moms really do need to be encouraged and supported by loved ones if they are going to breastfeed successfully. So what do you think of these ads? Thumbs up or down?

*Hat tip to The Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog for the heads up about these videos

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Is Beyonce Breastfeeding?

On the red carpet at the recent BET Honors show in DC, Beyonce's former Destiny's Child bandmate Michelle was interviewed and of course she was asked about baby Blue

“We’ve been doing everything, whatever [Beyonce] needs," said Williams. Though there is one thing the ladies can’t help their superstar friend with. “No breastfeeding,” joked Williams. “Ain’t no milk coming out.”

Beyonce breastfeeding? It sounds like she is! Here's hoping she confirms soon, as it will be the culmination of every black lactivist's wet dreams.  

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Eric Benet: Lactivist

Eric Benet recently tweeted this beautiful image of his wife breastfeeding their newborn daughter, Lucia. The caption is "Lucia says 'peace!' for the first time!"

© Eric Benet

What a sweet baby. Mine tend to give me the finger.

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Momzelle Nursing Top Review & Giveaway

Back when I was pregnant, Blacktating sponsor and all-around wonderful company Momzelle sent me a cute nursing top to review on the blog. This was my first ever piece of nursing clothing, if you can believe it. With Miles I was totally clueless and bought a couple decent nursing bras and just nursed from the top of my shirt whenever I needed to. By the time I realized there was even such a thing as nursing tops and dresses, I was a pro at nursing in public and didn't think I needed any special clothing.

Now of course, this is still true. You really DON'T need to buy special clothing in order to breastfeed in public. But damn if it doesn't make it so much easier! Since getting a few nursing tanks and tops, I don't know how I ever did without them. They just make everything so much easier and convenient and lots of brands like Momzelle make stuff that's so cute you can wear it while pregnant and after your nursing days are long over (yes, I rocked my Momzelle top while pregnant. It was so comfy and stretchy and *still* looks good, 7 months later).

Momzelle sent me their v-neck t-shirt in Dahlia, a beautiful plum.

I'm short so this length was perfect for me, but if you're a tall girl they do come in Xtra long. See how flattering this top is in the tummy area? (And bless you, Momzelle, for using a model who actually looks like she gave birth and is indeed breastfeeding). I am a US size  14 and got a size Large which was perfect for me (and like I said, I wore it throughout my pregnancy as well and only at the very end did the nursing openings begin to show because of my big belly and I had to put it back in the drawer). When I am nursing in my Momzelle top I feel completely covered and find access to the breast is easy with the generous nursing openings.

Momzelle also makes tanks, long-sleeve tops, dresses, nightgowns and bands that can be used to cover up your tummy under any regular shirt to make nursing a breeze. Besides their great products, you can feel good about buying from Momzelle because they really do care about breastfeeding mothers. Christine, the mom behind the brand, regularly donates to support breastfeeding causes, including giving nursing tops to low income teen moms.

Want to treat yourself to something from the Momzelle store? Momzelle is offering one Blacktating reader a $25 gift card to the store. This giveaway is open to all and everyone can take $5 off any Momzelle order with coupon code BLACKTATING.

Please use the Rafflecopter widget to enter and leave your comments below!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

2011 Celebrity Breastfeeding Round Up

2011 was a celebrity baby bonanza! I could barely keep up with all of the bump watches, eventual confirmations and new bundles of joy! 2011 was also a banner year for black celebrity breastfeeding, with some of my favorites being very vocal about their nursing experiences.

First up was Laila Ali who gave birth to daughter Sydney in April. She gave a fantastic interview to Best for Babes on having a natural birth, and losing weight in a healthy manner while breastfeeding.

Shortly after, the Queen Diva Mariah Carey gave birth to twins Monroe and Moroccan. Of course there had to be extra drama surrounding Mimi's nursing experience. Apparently someone at the hospital called Child Protective Services after Mariah was spotted having a Guiness to help with milk production on the advice of a nurse. We found out later during a 20/20 interview with Barbara Walters that Mariah nursed the twins for three months.

In May,  Ananda Lewis welcomed a baby boy at home and tweeted about using cloth diapers and breastfeeding. Look out for the video of her homebirth, which she's currently editing.

Tia Mowry welcomed son Cree in June and gushed about breastfeeding all over the place! Although Tia was hoping for a natural birth, she ended up with a c-section because Cree was breech. Thankfully breastfeeding worked out and Tia has even combined nursing with working by pumping. Remember when she forced twin sister Tamera to taste her milk? Hilarious!

Finally, actress Essence Atkins gave birth to her first son on Christmas Day. She recently sat down with Essence magazine and told them her son Varro is a breastfeeding champ. "He knew what to do from the moment they put him on me!" she joked.

So what black celebrities can we look forward to seeing breastfeed in 2012? Perhaps now that she's married and an aunt, Tamera Mowry will follow in her twin sister's footsteps and get pregnant this year. Newlywed singers Monica Brown and Keyshia Cole are also likely suspects. And as prolific as Swizzy has been, it's probably time for Alicia Keys to pop out another one.

Of course the world is waiting with baited breath for the birth of the heir to throne. Rumor has it that Beysus may have already given birth to The Golden Child and that we may catch a glipse of the babe on Monday. Of course if Beyonce decides to breastfeed and is vocal about how great it is, I think it will be a HUGE boon for black breastfeeding. I guess we shall see soon.......

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