Breastfeeding: you may struggle, but don’t give up!

Photographer: Jonathan Fitch,

When we decided to start a family, I really wanted to breastfeed. The research on breastfeeding being the best option for babies, speaks for itself. As a young black mother, I was surprised by the look shock from my OBGYN when I shared my desire for wanting to nurse my babies. Although she appeared surprised because my choice wasn’t popular, the look on her face showed her approval. As I began my own personal research about breastfeeding, I came across people and articles that stated that black mothers are not breastfeeding their babies as much as other ethnic groups.  Regardless of the various reasons among mothers in the black community for not breastfeeding, if the mother can safely breastfeed that I encourage her to do so. Breasfeeding isn’t easy, but with love and support you can be successful. I also wanted to share my personal breastfeeding journey and say, “Moms if you want your child to have the best, don’t give up, YOU CAN DO IT! Breastfeed your children to give them the jump-start in life they need.”

  1. Breastfeeding is time consuming, but the joy and great sense of accomplishment makes it worth all of your time and effort. At first, kids eat every two hours or sooner, like clock work. Enjoy this time with your baby,  before you know it they will be up and about, no longer wanting to snuggle and feed with mom, but wanting to play and do other things. Breastfeeding is great bonding time.
  2. Put the baby to your breast immediately, or soon after he or she is born. I was overwhelmed at first when the nurse gave me both babies and asked me to start breastfeeding.  I tried, but I wasn’t use to holding two babies at once, let alone breastfeeding two babies at the same time.  If I could have those moments back, I would ask for a lactation consultant’s help immediately.  I would be firm about asking the nurse to hold one child while I help the other get a good latch and then try to feed the other baby. Unfortunately, my husband and family were able to be there during my delivery so I was alone and had to figure things out on my own.
  3. Get rest and feed your baby at the same times each day. Having a child is physically exhausting, at least it was for me after I had my twins. Those first few days are critical and it is very important for your baby to receive the colostrum that your body has created. It is especially formulated for his or her needs. There are many comfortable ways to relax and feed your baby while breastfeeding so explore all of the different positions and see which ones are most comfortable for you and your baby. If you are not successful during the first few weeks, you can still successfully breastfeed if you want to, just be persistent and get additional help if you need to.
  4. Don’t miss a feeding. Going out in public, I felt uncomfortable breastfeeding. When you are first start breastfeeding you need to stay consistent and feed on demand. Your body is building a production rhythm so don’t skip a feeding just because you are away from home. In my daughter’s first few months, I chose to stay close to home but a good nursing cover will be fine and should help ease your anxiety.
  5. Be determined. Unfortunately, although breastfeeding is both positive and natural some people’s response to it, is not. Arm your mind with positive thoughts and positive friends. Find people that support you and your decision. Breastfeeding is less time consuming than making bottles.  It’s also cheaper.
  6. Use your resources. There are blogs, support groups, nurse lines, etc that will help if you are having difficulty. Talk to your child’s pediatrician when you are go to their doctor’s appointments. Do not give up, seek help!
  7. Eat and drink. During the first few weeks I wished I had prepared meals and froze them because I wasn’t eating like I should. Tell your friends and loved ones to bring a meal by, or order delivery.  Just remember you must eat. Also don’t neglect to drink plenty of fluids.
  8. Resources to help are available. Before you have your baby, watch a breastfeeding DVD, take a breastfeeding class, and/or read all about breastfeeding and its benefits. Make sure your delivery hospital supports and encourages mothers who breastfeed; if not, find one that does and has staff on sight to help.
  9. Hold off on giving your babies artificial nipples. For one of my daughters, her first 6 days of life were spent in the NICU where she was given both a pacifier and bottles of formula. When she came home, I struggled with breastfeeding because I thought that she was experiencing nipple confusion. Whatever the case, I kept trying. Anytime she cried and all of her other needs were met, I breastfed her. She got the hang of it and I am glad that I did not let go of my determination. She also seemed delighted to have the breast milk over the formula.
  10. You can be successful! I successfully breastfed my twins for 24 months, if I can, you can too. I was alone with my babies while my husband worked long hours, but we managed and now share a close bond. Don’t Give up because you can do it.

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