Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Monica & Brandy "Debate" Breastfeeding

I typically listen to the Rickey Smiley Morning Show on my way to work, but I missed an episode recently when R&B singers Monica and Brandy were in the studio and discussed nursing in public (shout out to my friend Kate for the heads up).

After listening to the short segment, I'm glad I didn't catch it while I was driving. The foolishness on that show can be hard to take on a good day, but two nursing moms being judgmental idiots about breastfeeding in public before my coffee fix? No, ma'am.

I'm not sure how the conversation got started, but in the clip, the first thing we hear is Brandy saying that she nursed her daughter Sy'rai until she was 13months old and "That's a little long...." She goes on to say that her friends thought she was crazy and Monica says, "Yeah, if you can walk and get your juice? You better walk and get that juice, honey!"

Sigh. Where do I even begin? Thirteen months is NOT, I repeat, NOT a long time to breastfeed. A thirteen-month-old is very much still a baby in every sense of the word. And it is worth noting that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that mothers nurse for a minimum of 12 months, and as long as mutually desired thereafter. Of course 13 months doesn't even come close to the recommended two years of breastfeeding per the World Health Organization. If Brandy breastfed for 13 months, she did so for only a few weeks longer than the bare minimum recommended amount of time. And please believe that that's not to put down any mom who doesn't make it that long for any variety of completely valid reasons. I just can't believe that we're supposed to think that just over a year of breastfeeding is "too long."

And should we break down that "walking and getting your juice" comment? Because it's tired. These arbitrary timeframes for when it's no longer appropriate to nurse a baby or toddler? I'm over it. Whether it's walking or talking or teeth....it's all bullshit. Nurse your child for as long as you want to! My son walked at 8 months. Should I have told him, "No, you can't have the best source of vitamins, proteins and fat available to you when you're hungry...please go grab a glass of juice instead." He also had teeth at 10 months, so I guess since he was such a "big boy" at that age, the only logical thing to do would have been....to give him a bottle. I mean, does this make ANY SENSE?

The rest of the audio, posted below, gets worse as they then discuss nursing in public. We're supposed to believe that they're on different sides, with Monica stating she would never nurse in a public place, while Brandy saying it's just fine as long as you use a cover. We're supposed to think Brandy is this earthy, crunchy weirdo because she put a blanket or nursing cover over her baby's head to completely cover herself while Monica is a respectable modern mom because she would leave and go hide in the car.

They're both assholes.

Hear me out. I know plenty of wonderful, breastfeeding (and formula feeding) moms who are lactivists and fully support a mom's right to nurse her baby in public, whenever, wherever, however, who personally use covers for their own comfort. I wish that we lived in a world where moms didn't need to be embarrassed to nurse in public, but I know we're not there yet. Those moms say it's not for them, but they are making decisions based on their own comfort levels, not on anyone else's, and want you to be able to do the same. Brandy and Monica are not those moms. Requiring a mom to cover up to appease your own discomfort with her breastfeeding is not support. Requiring a mom to leave a picnic in the park with her family to breastfeed her baby in the car is not support. If you say you support breastfeeding and add a disclaimer about privacy or covers or pumped milk in a bottle? You don't support breastfeeding.

I'm so tired of women holding themselves up as model breastfeeders because they do the "decent" thing and cover up or hide when they need to feed their babies. I'm so sick of celebrities, particularly black women, who could be fantastic role models for breastfeeding blowing it over and over. I'm so over folks acting like how or when a woman breastfeeds her baby is an actual question that is up for debate. It's your legal right to breastfeed your baby in public. At what other time do we slap up polls on websites and TV shows and discuss whether or not people should do something they already have the right to do?

I'm done with the nonsnse. Thankfully we won't have to hear much more debating from these two since they couldn't even get along long enough to go on their scheduled tour. I can't say I'm disappointed.

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Friday, May 18, 2012

Guest Post: Breastfeeding While Vegan

I'm so excited to bring you today's guest post by one of my favorite lactivists, Anayah. You may remember her from the hilarious "Sh*t People Say to Breastfeeding Mothers" video. Today she's discussing an important topic: how to stay healthy and provide the best nutrition for your baby while vegan.

We’re 23 months into this thing. SJ must have known how little I actually knew about breastfeeding, because he latched on perfectly within 30 minutes of being born. The midwife had included pamphlets in our home birth info pack, complete with troubleshooting tips featuring glossy, colorful close-up shots of conditions like thrush and cracked nipples. In my babymooning, I tucked them away and buried my head in the sand. I’d cross those bridges if I ever came to them. It turns out that the most difficult parts of this journey have been maintaining self-care on a plant-based diet and now, keeping my cool through weaning. There were no pamphlets for those things.
So, I’m one of those people who eat a vegan diet. This means that the foods I eat come from plants. On top of that, I’m somewhat of a health nut, so I eat lots of greens, very little processed foods, and try to make sure most of my meals are made at home. I’ve been vegan for about 20 years of my life, but breastfeeding pushed me to reconsider my diet in ways I didn’t have to before. Most people want to talk about protein when it comes to veganism, but since that’s a completely uninformed concern, I won’t deal with it here. I’m also going to take for granted that you’re just as concerned about nutrition as eating organic as much as is reasonable and fighting for clean water and air (heard about the jet fuel found in breastmilk?). Those things aside, I believe the most important concern for a vegan breastfeeding mother is FAT!

My first point of advice is to make sure you’re getting enough calories. We all know that breastfeeding can burn 200-500 calories a day. A vegan diet is naturally low-fat because we don’t consume the animal fats that omnivores do. I was dismayed at how quickly I lost my plump post-baby body; it took me a few months to realize that the demands of exclusive breastfeeding required me to be intentional about eating foods like avocados, soaked nuts, nut butters and coconut oil. Eating for two (or three or more), right?

The second thing to consider is vitamin B12. Actually, anyone struggling with energy might want to check on their vitamin B12 intake anyway. Low vitamin B12 levels can show itself as fatigue, memory loss, and/or depression. Vegans are particularly at-risk for B12 deficiency if we don’t eat foods that are fortified with it, like fortified cereals. I prefer to use nutritional yeast, which contains the B vitamins and has a nutty, yet malleable flavor. There are also claims that some coconut products, like coconut nectar, amino acids or vinegar have broad-spectrum B vitamins. I’ll wait for the studies before depending on them though.

Then, there’s vitamin D. There is lots of debate about which type of vitamin D is safe for vegans: D2 or D3. Most people get their vitamin D from the same place they get their B vitamins: fortified foods. Pretty much any milk (whether cow’s or almond) has vitamin D added to it. Since vitamin D is needed to help the body absorb calcium and maintain strong bones, you definitely don’t want to fool around here (you do like your teeth, right?). Even before pregnancy, I knew from having my blood examined that I was severely deficient in vitamin D3. I take great pains to get lots of sun exposure and ensure adequate vitamin D intake. For the record, most vitamin D3 supplements come from animal sources, while D2 does not, though your body will still have to convert it to D3.

I’m trusting you to consult your doctor, nutritionist or whatever health professionals you trust on these things. Still, from one breastfeeding mother to another, I want to push you past nutrition talk to remind you to take care of yourself. If you’re a first-time mother like I am, please get into the habit of making sure your support circle supports your health, as well as the baby’s. Breastfeeding should not be at your expense, no matter how much of a “sacrifice” it is. In my case, taking care of myself meant constantly being vocal and clear about my needs. My husband and visitors were gently reminded to help make sure I ate enough, ate well, stayed hydrated and rested. I had to remind my husband that SJ would get everything he needed from my breastmilk, but that I needed to be conscious of what I consumed. Not getting enough calcium, your body is smart enough to take it from your bones (teeth!). So, eating well and self-care are a breastfeeding mother’s protection.

Now, when you develop the magic equation for stress-free weaning, drop me a line on twitter: @anayahrose.

Anayah is a blogging mother, wife, doula, childbirth educator and aspiring midwife. She earned a M.S.Ed. in Urban Education and is active in her community around food and reproductive health justice. She co-edited the forthcoming “Free to Breastfeed: Voice from Black Mothers” and gives talks about breastfeeding and food justice. In addition to the FtB blog, she co-founded SoulVegFolk, a social network that connects and nurtures African descended families through healthy, eco-lifestyles, and writes a personal blog.

For more information on breastfeeding while vegan or vegetarian, see Kellymom's page on Vegetarian Diets & Breastfeeding.
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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Alicia Keys on Breastfeeding

Well, well, well, look who has come out of the woodwork to talk about her experience with breastfeeding. It's none other than Ms. Alicia Keys! Now, back in October of 2010 when she had her son Egypt, I figured she wasn't breastfeeding. She never made mention of it in any interviews and she was seen out on the town sans baby frequently in the early weeks after his birth. I assumed she wasn't nursing and to be honest, I wasn't really checking for her anyway (yes, I'm Team Mashonda all day).

I guess Alicia couldn't stand to see Beyonce get all of the breastfeeding shine, so when she recently sat down with Lifetime for an episode of The Conversation, she had this to say:

On how her body has changed after she had her son:

I think that it’s changed in so many ways. I was thinking about this the other day; we were just saying that your body does things that it would have never done before. It’s a miracle and incredible; bones and structures of your body move to new places! It’s like how?

Then I also breastfed; I don’t know if it’s a total myth but when you breastfeed you kind of lose weight quicker.

On breastfeeding:

I loved it. Well, there were a couple of things no one told you. I took this whole class too which I thought was really good because I think a lot of people think you’re just supposed to have this natural instinct that’s suppose to happen out of thin air. There’s a technique to learn and if you don’t know it, it’s not your fault. I was glad I did that because I felt kind of prepared a little bit. The whole engorgement thing, no one mentioned that part.
I remember I was in the bed and I couldn’t move because it hurts and there is no way around it. I delivered naturally and I kept asking myself, “What is wrong with you? You spent hours and hours in labor and delivered naturally but you can’t take some [milk coming in.]" They skipped that part; they didn’t tell me about that one.

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Monday, May 7, 2012

Welcome New Sponsor Evymama!

See that gorgeous ad to the left there? That is from my latest sponsor, Evymama! I'm thrilled to have them as a sponsor of Blacktating because of their commitment to breastfeeding and helping moms feel good about themselves.

Evymama is not just about feeling sexy while pregnant and breastfeeding, but that’s a big part of it. Owner Sarah LeMay-Kaplan launched the maternity and nursing apparel business with the idea that you should feel even more beautiful than usual when you’re a mom or mom-to-be.
LeMay-Kaplan found that the body image issues she struggled with pre-kids actually melted away with her first pregnancy. “I really came to appreciate how amazing and intricate my body was, and that confidence and love for myself and what I was capable of translated into an increased feeling of beauty and sexiness. What a revelation!”
Channeling the inner mother goddess begins differently for each woman. For some, overhauling the lingerie drawer with gorgeous maternity and nursing lingerie is the place to start. For others, it’s reading all the latest parenting books to gain that sexy confidence that comes with knowing what you’re doing and making informed choices.
Evymama is about honoring and respecting yourself and your metamorphosis into a beautiful mom and rejecting fear of stretch marks or labor and other made-up roadblocks to being the happy, whole, and complete mother you want to be, and doing it all with style and grace.
Find gorgeous maternity clothing and designer maternity jeans, beautiful nursing bras and nursing tops and dresses, stylish baby carriers, and pregnancy and breastfeeding-related accessories and books at evymama.ca online or in the company’s two Toronto boutiques. Free shipping to continental USA and Canadian addresses of orders over $300.

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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Quote of the Day: Beyonce on Breastfeeding

From this week's People magazine with Beyonce on the cover as the 2012 World's Most Beautiful Woman.

"I lost most of my weight from breastfeeding and I encourage women to do it; It's just so good for the baby and good for yourself."

A nod to the breastfeeding community and all of the kudos she got for nursing in public? I'd say so.

A good quote in a major magazine about breastfeeding from the world's biggest pop star. I'll take it.
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