Minority Moms & Breastfeeding : Teri's Interview

by - 1/25/2010 07:07:00 AM

How are minority moms succeeding with breastfeeding? This was my thought after attending the Bravado Breastfeeding Information Council (BBIC) launch event where research and findings based on 17 years of expertise on 80,000 moms were shared and discussed.

At this event I was one of two minority moms listening to the info on location. The other mom was American of Asian decent. The moms on the panel for this event included Kimberly Seals Allers, author of The Mocha Manual. After the event, I talked to Kimberly about the data shared and what it means for the moms within our community.

Weeks after the event I was still curious so I decided to interview some minority moms within my social network. The respond and info shared from the moms is so encouraging that each week I'll post a different interview.

This weeks interview is with Teri who considers herself African-American from multi-racial parents. Her dad is Indian (South Asian)/South American (German descent). Her mom's parents were both biracial one half hispanic the other black/white. Teri's daughter is now 9, but she nursed her from birth until she was nearly 4.

  1. If your breastfeeding, how is the support from family/community? Does your mother/mother in law support you? Does your husband/partner?
  2. Teri: I had a lot of support from my parents and Kyra's (Kare-ra) dad. My best friend (white) thought is was not something she would be doing a few months later when her son was born. Most of my friends nursed their babies. Additionally I was a member of an online AP parents group. So I guess you could say I purposefully surrounded myself with folks that felt as I did. The one exception my best friend.
  3. If your working how does your company feel about you breastfeeding? Do they give you time to pump? Is there a policy in place for nursing mothers? Is your supervisor/boss/coworkers understanding?
  4. Teri: I returned to a new job when Kyra was 7 months old. I had my own office so nursing was never an issue. My boss had also nursed her children, so there was implicit understanding. But no company policy in place to my knowledge. Having an office afforded us an opportunity that other may not have had. One month back at work, I had to take a business trip to a tv station in Minneapolis. Amazingly they had set aside a dressing room on the news set for nursing exec. I do not remember if this was available to all. I was very upfront about my needs.
  5. Do you feel there's enough information available to support you as a minority mom who wants to breastfeed?
  6. Teri: I actively sought out information on nursing, I was kind of adamant about the birth, baby raising experience that I wanted to have and I actively pursued. I don't know that the info was all that easy to find. I was inundated with coupons and info about formula but not nearly as much info was available on nursing.
  7. How did you/do you plan on breastfeeding?
  8. Teri: I nursed Kyra for the first time seconds after she was born, it was an amazing experience. I was feeding this little person as we stared at each other. She seemed to be more sure about what to do than I was. As beautiful as that experience was that is the last time it was that easy for the next few weeks. That first night I cried as I feed my daughter a little formula. Interestingly the nurse, had left it "just in case". She nursed non stop and boy was I in pain. I decided to take it one day at a time, proud of myself for each day I continued. I was worried that I produced too little milk. Ironically, my daughter had nearly doubled her birth weight at her 2 wk check up. Wow I guess my previously A cups knew what to do after all. I used Lansinoh as my nipples cracked, compresses on my breast as they swelled. But the support of my family and friends was what urged my on. Oh that and funds were limited since I stopped working and was a single mom. Her dad is a part of her life. However I have sole custody and financial support for Kyra so money was a factor in my choice as well. After the initial few months which were indeed difficult at times, the benefits were an easily soothed baby, no food expense for baby, no really smelly diapers until 6 months when I introduced food. The plan was to stop at 1, but Kyra got sick while on a business trip with me at 11 months. She could no longer keep down food, This virus lasted for about 3wks and we both lost a lot of weight. "Nursey" as she called it was all she would eat or drink. That was very scary, so I continued nursing. During the time I was nursing I knew a few other African American nursing mom's, so we became a support group for each other. The two were Mocha moms at the time.
  9. What advice do you have for a new mom with questions about breastfeeding?
  10. Teri: My advice would be to try and seek out other nursing mom. Join new moms/moms groups hopefully you won't be the only one. I met a few of my now IRL friends(who nursed) through listserv's. Read up before you give birth. I had read everything and was 100% committed to nursing and yet is was still painful and difficult in the early days and as I weened her at what felt like 22! If you chose to nurse past 12 months, know that there will be those who think you are crazy. You have to do what is right for your baby.

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