Why Aren’t More Mocha Mamas Breastfeeding?

Posted 09-27-2013 at 11:46 AM by yoliyoda

It's Only Natural National Campaign Recent figures released from the US Department of Human and Health Services indicates that only about 55% of African American women attempt to breastfeed their child. It’s actually a figure that is up for the 35% in the 1970s. The specific areas with the lowest numbers come from the South. Unfortunately the figures don’t surprise me.

I am an African American woman living in the Southeast. To be clear, my family background is actually Caribbean, but I was born in the states. The difference may seem slight, but often when it comes to ideology “Caribbean American” doesn’t always equal “African American”. By my own experience, this is often the case in the view of breastfeeding, usually more accepted and prevalent among my Caribbean female friends.

It’s been hard for me to find breastfeeding role models within my own ethnicity. That really isn’t a priority to me, but I do find it troublesome. With the proven benefits of breastfeeding including lower risk of childhood obesity and diabetes, and lowering risks of cancer for the mother–all things that plague the African American community–I’m left wondering why so few of us are taking advantage of the obvious.

Then again, maybe it’s not so obvious. I consider myself an educated woman, yet I didn’t know about all the benefits until I got pregnant. There was no bases of experience, or voices of encouragement, trumpeting the joys of breastfeeding to me. And I understand part of the reason: before the years of La Leche League many women, some of whom were not only in the healthcare profession, but specifically OB-GYN nurses, found the art of breastfeeding mystifying. When the change in mindset came, and help started to emerge for woman who wanted to breastfeed, it didn’t trickle down to the African American community so easily. Let’s be honest: when many had little or subpar health care for themselves, they’d be hard pressed to find someone, anyone, that could help them demystify breastfeeding. My mother was one of women lost in the shroud. She tried and failed, with no support, to breastfeed. She didn’t even know there was support available.

Diaper Swapers

A Lesson Learned The Hard Way

Posted 09-17-2013 at 11:50 AM by yoliyoda

I learned the hard way that feeding or pumping on a regular basis is important.

My husband is a hard working DJ and entertainer. At times when he is traveling out of town I will accompany him; and now that we have a son, sometimes his gigs become family road trips–especially when he will be staying overnight.

On the very first trip we did like this as a family I was able to feed and pump once every 1.5-3 hours, which is usually my maximum–except on the day we came home. We were in a rush, so I let son gobble down some nutrition from bottles for a few feedings and thought that letting the pumping or feeding sessions go “a bit longer” inbetween wouldn’t be a big deal.


By the time I got home my breast were getting hard and achey, and there was a small white spot on the tip of one of my nipples, and it was a bit sensitive. My little boy was a bit off his schedule from all the excitement of the day and didn’t eat from both breasts as heartily as I would have expected. I ended up pumping; and while I was able to get one breast back to normal, the one with the white spot didn’t quite drain all the way no matter how long I pumped.

The next day the spot had gotten bigger and more painful. I tried to allow my son to nurse from it, but it was too painful. I was feeling sluggish, though I had no fever. I was starting to think the worse–mastitis.

The Color(s) of Breastmilk

Posted 09-16-2013 at 03:45 PM by angelaw

A few days before heading back to work after my maternity leave, I decided I should start pumping to build up a stash for my son to eat while I was away from him. I pumped for about 10-15 minutes and got about 2-3 ounces. It wasn’t bad, but I wanted a little more before putting in a freezer bag. So, I put what I had expressed in a storage bottle in the fridge. After pumping a second time later that day, I went to place the new bottle in the fridge. I was shocked at what I saw. My milk had divided into two parts. A thicker, creamy ivory colored substance at the top, and a thinner clearer substance at the bottom. It looked nothing like cow’s milk. This was my first baby and I was still young and naïve. I didn’t have a clue about homogenization and didn’t know that if left alone, milk straight from the cow would do the same thing.

Later that month, after returning to work I had another surprise. I had missed my regular pumping break time, and had to wait about an hour and a half longer than usual to get away to pump. When I finally was able to get away, the bottle of milk looked so strange. The milk had a bluish tint to it, and I considered dumping it down the drain for fear that something was wrong. What I didn’t realize what that because I had waited longer to pump, my breasts had become slightly engorged. Since I pumped for the same amount of time as always, I wasn’t able to obtain much more than foremilk this time. On the same note, when I pumped more often than normal, I would notice thicker, creamier milk because it was then mostly hind milk.

A few years later, I was a surrogate and delivered two beautiful babies. I began pumping milk for

Sex and the Breastfeeding Mom

Posted 09-16-2013 at 10:30 AM by angelaw

After the birth of my first child, my husband patiently waited the recommended six weeks before even bringing up sex in conversation.  I was glad. I had my hands full with a newborn and as a new mom my whole world revolved around my baby, I just wasn’t even thinking about sex.  However, after I reached six weeks postpartum, I didn’t magically become interested in sex again.

This wasn’t like me. During my pregnancy, it seemed like I couldn’t get enough. Hubby had trouble keeping up with me. I had never felt sexier than I did while pregnant, why the sudden change just because I had given birth? I talked to my doctor at my check-up only to learn that my lack of sex drive could be blamed mostly on breastfeeding.

During pregnancy, estrogen levels are extremely high. This is why I felt so feminine and sensual. After the birth of the placenta, estrogen levels plummet and prolactin surges so that your milk can ‘come in.’ This change in hormones as well as the major body changes going on after the birth tends to leave the nursing mom feeling not quite so sexy.

Another tricky situation that comes with low estrogen levels is the vaginal dryness. Just because the psychological desire returns, doesn’t mean the hormone levels required for lubrication do as well. This can present a painful problem that can easily be remedied with some lubricant. If you suddenly find yourself

Breastfeeding Success or Failure in the Hands of Your Significant Other?

Posted 09-12-2013 at 01:30 PM by angelaw

I’ve always been a strong believer in the idea that the nursing relationship between mother and baby is strengthened or weakened by the support she receives or the lack thereof. And that even if she is receiving wonderful support through local support groups, women in her family, and health care providers, all of that can be derailed by the lack of support at home from her significant other.

I have heard so many moms talk about how their spouse, boyfriend, etc. did not want them to breastfeed because her breasts were ‘theirs’. I have witnessed my own sister not able to breastfeed in public because her husband was worried someone else would see her breasts. This was a major derailment for her as she was out in public quite often. I was more than thrilled when she finally spoke with her husband about it and how it was an inconvenience to her. He was able to see that what he was asking was a bit ridiculous and she has since been able to nurse their babies whenever and wherever they needed to be fed.

I would love to think that all of these situations ended up the same way, but I know better. Often the mom chooses to

One Side Benefit of Breastfeeding

Posted 09-11-2013 at 10:15 AM by yoliyoda










Today was a beach day, and yet another reminder of I why I’m happy to keep pushing along the breastfeeding train!

My first child is less than 3 months old, and I’ve been having supply issues. We had just arrived at the beach when I realized I’d left my fenugreek at home. I can really tell the difference when I forget to take it regularly; I notice a drop in supply. For a moment I was extremely frustrated; it was the second day in a row that I was out of the house and had forgotten the pills. At times it can seem like there is so much to remember, do, or pills to take when you are fighting a supply issue. It can be a tiring battle.

When we arrived the sun was getting ready to set, but it was still warm. As we dragged coolers, umbrellas, and blankets down towards

Is Breastfeeding Boring?

Posted 09-11-2013 at 09:24 AM by angelaw

While during the first few days nursing your new little one you may have been content just adoring and caressing him (or her) while they ate. After a while, things may get a little, well… boring. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy having an excuse to sit down and do nothing (other than feed my precious little bundle of joy) for a moment here and there. I also find myself occasionally nursing while doing other things around the house or out and about. However, the majority of the time, feedings take place sitting on the couch or in a chair. And I don’t want to be sitting there with nothing to do, especially if my little one is “sleep-eating”.  I have found a few things to do to occupy my time while my baby is having a meal (or a snack).

Watching the TV is an easy one. While I don’t have the ability to TIVO shows with my cable package, I do have on-demand where I can start and stop my favorites shows (and sometimes free movies) whenever I’m sitting down to nurse. I have also subscribed to Netflix and raided the local library’s collection of movies as well. (Complete series seasons on DVD were great during the first weeks when ‘cluster feeding’ was in full force.)

I also find myself at the computer desk with the boppy in my lap and two free hands to type and catch up with my friends on Facebook. This took a little practice at first, but after a few tries, I was a master at hands-free nursing at the computer.

Unexpected Pain Nursing Baby #2

Posted 09-9-2013 at 08:40 AM by angelaw

What I didn’t expect when breastfeeding my second child was how much more it hurt…in my abdomen. I had heard and read when expecting my first that when you nurse, your uterus contracts helping it shrink back to normal size and reducing the risk of uterine bleeding. I never really noticed the after pains (or involution) at all, and figured that was typical for them to be mild because mine were. With my second, I was anticipating the same thing. Boy was I wrong! I was at first alarmed by the pain and thought maybe something was wrong this time, but the lactation consultant at the hospital reassured me everything was fine. The more I talked with other breastfeeding mamas about this, the more I realized that it is pretty common to experience more intense contractions when nursing subsequent babies.

In reading, I have discovered that in first time moms the uterus is pretty toned making it easier for the uterus to efficiently contract and stay contracted. However, the more children a mother gives birth to, the weaker the uterus becomes making it harder to contract and hold the contraction. Instead, the uterus is continuously contracting and then relaxing making the pain more frequent rather than the single contractions you would feel as a first time mama. This explanation pretty much makes sense to me, but if I have it wrong, please chime in with your version so I can understand it fully.

Those first few days are the worst when it comes to pain. Since I am expecting baby number three, I know that the after pains this time will be the most intense I have ever experienced. I wanted to research and see what I could do to help alleviate these pains. What I have discovered so far is that new mamas should pee often so that a full bladder isn’t in the way of the uterus contracting. Massaging the belly immediately postpartum also helps (I remember the nurses doing this after

The Breastfeeding Diet for Mom

Posted 09-6-2013 at 10:15 AM by angelaw

In my experience as a nursing mom, I have noticed that during the time I breastfeed my little ones I become ravenously hungry. I ‘needed’ to eat – All. The. Time. I have always had a healthy appetite, but it seems to vamp up during lactation. In the midst of eating everything in sight, I often worry about the quality of the food I’m inhaling.  I normally eat a balanced and healthy diet with the occasional splurges, but I won’t lie, I once ate an entire package of OREOS in one sitting during those first few weeks postpartum. (I had just found out that baby had a dairy sensitivity and OREOS were actually a vegan product – never mind all the trans-fat, I was just thinking “Hey! A cookie I can actually eat!”) Of course I immediately felt remorse. It seemed to follow anytime I had eaten something ‘unhealthy’ or over-indulged (which seemed to be a lot with baby number two).

I soon learned that I wasn’t the only breastfeeding mama that had these concerns. At my local support group for nursing moms, this topic seemed to surface a lot. Does what you eat effect the quality of your breast milk? In those first few weeks (or months) postpartum, you are so busy with your newborn and maintaining the rest of your household that you may be lucky to comb your hair and get dressed; getting a well-balanced meal on the table may be a stretch. Breakfast and lunch may have been a candy bar and a handful of cheese crackers respectively. Eating habits, while breastfeeding, are likely to affect your body more so than baby’s. Your baby has first dibs on nutrients you have stored; (similar to how it worked during pregnancy) it’s important to take prenatal vitamins while nursing so you can maintain your own health and energy.

Cold Urticaria In The Summer

Posted 07-17-2013 at 12:04 PM by whitneywalters

My three year old daughter is allergic to the cold, you may remember me writing about this in the past. Now that summer has finally rolled around, you would think things would be getting easier for her but that is not the case. I have to be just as careful with her in the summer as I do in the winter.

Things like running through the sprinkler while there is a cold breeze can set off a reaction like you would not believe. I am not just talking  hives either, Kairi gets large welts all over where she was cold. So far the sprinkler has only caused a reaction like this one time, I have learned to check her very often, if I think the breeze is getting to be to much, we have to stop and go inside.

The swimming pool is another thing that can be dangerous for my daughter. The water needs to be on the warmer side, while most people can tolerate a cold pool, it has been known to send people with this allergy into shock. We actually found out about this allergy because Kairi broke out in welts after being in a cold pool last year and I took her to the doctor. This is why I fill my kiddy pool the night before and let it sit until mid afternoon. I have even put pitchers of hot water in to be safe. My parents have a pool at their house,  we have to temp the water first and they are looking into a solar powered heater for it. When we go to public pools, we always look for heated ones. Kairi has not been to a beach yet, if we do ever take her, she will have to stay in shallow water and I will be finding out the water temp before we go.