community

  • How do I find my breastfeeding bestie?

    It’s no secret. Life as a new mom can be lonely. And that loneliness is terrible for new moms and can impact their postpartum experience.

    It really helps in the early days to find at least one or two moms you connect with that “get it.” Its great if you have family or friends who also have young children. But it’s even better if you their child is close in age to your child, you have a similar feeding goal, you live in close proximity, you share a religious background or even a cultural background. Sometimes having someone “like you,”- in which ever way empowers you- in your corner can make a huge difference.

    Especially when it comes to your feeding goals. Whether you choose to breastfeed, formula feed, pump and bottle feed or your own unique combo, support is critical to your success.

    But life as a new mom is lonely. Especially in the first days and weeks when your life is mostly baby care, feeding, mom care and resting at home and the occasional appointment or outing.

    And if you’ve chosen to breastfeed, it can definitely get boring (yes. i said it. pumping too). Especially in the newborn stage when nursing sessions can last anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes (or longer! I’m looking at you clusterfeeding).

    Day to day challenges may arise that may have you questioning your choices, no matter how strong your will. Having a friend/cheerleader in your corner who really gets what you’re going will help you keep your goals in the focus. They can also affirm things that are normal or not and also suggest solutions, tools or resources you maybe hadn’t thought of. They can also keep you flexible in your expectations and help bring light and laughter when things start to get rough.

    Once you feel up for it, getting out of the
    house and into your community is a great way to build your mom skills and find
    that breastfeeding bestie you need to get you through the toughest times.

    Storytime/ Playgroups

    Your local library or bookstore may have a
    storytime or playgroup for young children. In Prince George’s County, MD, the
    public library system hosts story time based on your child’s age. This can be a
    great place to meet moms of babies the same age as your baby and to get some
    much needed adult socialization.

    Local Lactation Resources

    Check with your local birth center and lactation resources for classes, support groups and events in your community.

    In Maryland, Special Beginnings Womens and Birth Center is a great start. In addition to on staff Lactation Consultants, they also have a breastfeeding boutique, teach a Breastfeeding Basics Class and host a Mamas Group for new moms on the first Friday of each month.

    Lactation Consultants and Counselors

    Some private lactation consultants host
    their own support groups for the breastfeeding moms they are working with.
    Crowned and Cradled hosts a monthly support group in the Bowie, MD area.

    Awareness Events

    Events during awareness weeks like World Breastfeeding Week and Black Breastfeeding Week are a great place to find like-minded parents when it comes to your feeding goals. You can also practice feeding your baby in public with the support of other moms who know how it feels right by your side.

    So I encourage you to get out in your
    community and connect with the new moms you are meeting. I know it’s hard
    making friends as an adult but I also know that you are going to be a mom and
    through that process you will find so much strength.

  • Try Focusing on Postpartum|Black Maternal Health Week 2019

    If you are a black woman like me, you might be scared as hell to have a baby in the United States. If you haven’t read the statistics, yet, let these paint a picture for you:

    Black women are three to four times more likely to experience a pregnancy-related death than white women (Creanga, Syverson, Seek, Callaghan,2017).

    Black women are more likely to experience preventable maternal death compared with white women.

    Black women’s heightened risk of pregnancy-related death spans income and education levels.

    Yeah. Not looking so great for black women, regardless of how wealthy or educated we might be.

    These stats are definitely scary, but I also want to assure you that while the statistics surrounding black maternal deaths are very real, they are not the norm.

    But something has to change. And fast. We cannot risk losing one more mother. We can not risk one more black mother dying during or after childbirth. #notonmywatch

    The Black Mamas Matter Alliance created Black Maternal Health Week to bring together those working to raise awareness and change to the current situation of birthing for black women in the United States.

    This year they are calling for us to decolonize the research and data and push for policies that are meaningful to Black maternal health. They are making space for deeper conversations on how to make actual change on a higher level. And pushing for more support of black voices in research surrounding maternal health.

    But what can you do as a black mother in the thick of your pregnancy or postpartum. Here are three ways you an hold space for yourself (and any others mothers you know and love) today and everyday.

    RESPECT THE ENTIRE JOURNEY

    We’ve seen an increased focus on prenatal care and improving birth outcomes. But maternal health does not start or end with birth. Maternal related health issues can start during pregnancy and last well into the first year postpartum (and even beyond!)

    You had a gender reveal, pregnancy photography and a lovely baby shower. Keep that same energy after baby is born. Rally your family and friends for support after giving birth. Be intentional and prioritize your physical recovery, emotional adjustments and caring for yourself and baby. And also celebrate this transformative journey you are on!

    HOLD YOUR CARE PROVIDER ACCOUNTABLE

    As I said before there is a lot of focus on improving prenatal care and birth experiences. But what about after your baby is born? Is one check-up, 6 or 8 weeks later going to be enough for you?

    The current state of medical postpartum care is pretty minimal. But changes are coming. The ACOG recently put out new guidelines redefining postpartum care, however many are slow to embrace and implement the changes. Know what kind of postpartum care that you deserve and demand it.

    Listen to your intuition and get a second opinion if you feel unsatisfied with the first. You are not at the mercy of your care provider, they are here to serve you.

    KNOW THAT YOU DON’T ALWAYS HAVE TO BE STRONG

    Black women are revered for their strength, perseverance and ability to somehow get it all done, even when we’re doing it on our own. I want you take that “strong black woman” cape off for a moment and really understand these three things:

    It is ok to be scared or feel vulnerable with all of the new things you are experiencing

    it is ok to take the time you need to rest and recover after birth. You deserve it.

    it is ok to ask for and accept help from family, friends, professionals and your community…

    …especially during pregnancy and postpartum when you are literally pushed to your limits.

    You have the strength of your ancestors who endured so much behind you. They lived through hell in hopes of changing the future for future generations. They suffered so that you wouldn’t have to.

    Honor their journey and your own journey but doing things they couldn’t do while pregnant or postpartum.

    Rest.

    Be vulnerable.

    Be selective with your care provider.

    Call on community.

    Because the truth is, even though we did not create this system or situation, we cannot afford to wait for someone to come save us. We must save our selves.

    Reference

    Creanga, A.A., Syverson, C., Seek, K., & Callaghan, W.M. (2017). Pregnancy-Related Mortality in the United States, 2011-2013. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 130(2), 366-373. Retrieved 4 April 2018