Thursday, April 26, 2012

Beyonce Breastfed...... For 10 Weeks

People magazine has selected Beyonce as their Most Beautiful Woman for 2012. It's not unexpected, as Bey is gorgeous and talented and has had an awesome year. Her album 4 was lauded by critics and of course, she became a mother in January. Celebrity moms are en vogue in a way they have been before. From bumpwatch to birth and breastfeeding, motherhood has made even the most D list celebrities household names. Hell we've all seen how motherhood resurrected the careers of many of the stars of our childhood like Mayim Bialik, Alyssa Milano and Soleil Moon Frye. Celeb moms write books and blogs, get new TV shows and papped at the park. So it's no surprise People would choose to celebrate Beyonce, a huge star who's become even more famous since becoming a mom.

Of course the biggest story surrounding Beyonce in the past few months has been her nursing daughter Blue Ivy in public. We all wondered if the gossip was indeed true. Could Beyonce really be breastfeeding?

Well, the news outlets must have gotten an advanced copy of the People magazine (it hits newsstands tomorrow) because E! featured this story today.

It seems Beyonce is being uncharacteristically candid and discussing breastfeeding. So there you have it from the horse's mouth: Beyonce breastfed. For 10 weeks.

So as breastfeeding advocates and black lactivists, how do you feel about this? Is it still a coup now that we know she only breastfed for a little over two months, and it would seem primarily as a means to lose weight? Is this still a win?

In many ways I think breastfeeding advocates can let the perfect be the enemy of the good. After Beyonce breastfed Blue, it was covered in all of the major outlets and EVERYONE on planet Earth was discussing breastfeeding for weeks. That's a score, in my opinion. But in many ways, this stings. We've held her up as a breastfeeding role model and now it feels like she never really was. She wanted to lose the 50 pounds she gained during her pregnancy as quickly as possible and she happily switched to formula at 10 weeks. It's not really the vision we had of her, right? I know many of us were hoping to see Beyonce breastfeed for at least 6 months exclusively. And how cool would it have been to have a toddler nursing Blue?

Of course it's none of our business how long Beyonce breastfed or why, but it is interesting that she didn't even make it to 12 weeks, just like the average mom in the US. Around the time that women return to paid work, breastfeeding dries up because even with workplace pumping accommodations, it's still hard to make breastfeeding and work WORK. So many of us, myself included, enjoy our work but still cried into our pillows when we had to pack our babies up and send them to daycare when our leave was over. Maybe we didn't want to stay home permanently, but we did want more time. At least 6 months or a year to be with our babies and nurse them and not have to struggle with pumping. And here's Beyonce, a woman like us who loves both her baby and her job, who could make the choices we can't.....yet didn't. She could take Blue everywhere and if a photoshoot ran long so she could breastfeed, who would complain? Most of us can't take our babies to work and if we are late because the baby needed to eat we could end up out on our asses.

It's kind of baffling to me that I live in a world where Mariah Carey breastfed twins longer than Bey breastfed, but I've had to repeat my new mantra over and over again since I heard the news: Not my body and not my baby. But if I'm being honest, I'm still a little annoyed.

So how are you feeling about Beyonce breastfeeding for 10 weeks?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Black moms needed to sign up for the Army of Women

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter you may have heard that I am working with Dr. Kathleen Arcaro of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst on her groundbreaking breastmilk and breast cancer study. Along with Tanya Lierberman, IBCLC of the Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog and Kathi Barber, CLC and author of The Black Woman's Guide to Breastfeeding. We are specifically recruiting black moms to give a breastmilk sample to be analyzed in Dr. Arcaro's lab. The response from you all has been amazing and the milk samples are um, pouring in. Because of you, we are on our way to ensuring that this important breast cancer research represents ALL women. We will eventually need more of you to send in milk samples, but today I am asking you for a different, but just as important, favor.

I want all of my African American women readers, whether you're breastfeeding or not, to sign up for the Love/Avon Army of Women.
What's the Army of Women? It's an effort backed by Dr. Suan Love and the Avon Foundation to focus on breast cancer prevention. Great strides have been made in the treatment of breast cancer, but little progress has been made in preventing women from developing breast cancer in the first place. The Army of Women connects women with researchers so that they can participate in research (if they choose) to help us understand how to prevent breast cancer.

How does it work? You register and provide very basic information such as your name, email, age, city, and state of residence. You will then receive email updates from us announcing new research studies looking for volunteers with or without breast cancer, just like you. If you fit the criteria and you’d like to participate, all you need to do is “RSVP.” You will be asked to go through an online screening process to confirm you fit the criteria for the study. Throughout the process, you remain in complete control and you self select what you want to do! You will never be pressured to take part in any study. The decision to take part is yours—and yours alone.
The most important part is that when you fill out the registration form you check "breast milk study" when asked how you learned about the Army of Women.

Why are we looking for African American women? Researchers want to ensure that their findings apply to all women, and to do that they need a diverse pool of particpants for their studies. A good example is the current call for African American moms to participate in the Jewels in our Genes study, which is recruiting African American breast cancer survivors now.

What can you do? Please go to the Army of Women registration page and please select "breast milk study" when asked how you learned about the Army of Women. We thank you!

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