All around the U.S., black women are creating a space for themselves, in the breastfeeding landscape, and challenging the old narrative that black women don't breastfeed their children. This year's Black Breastfeeding Week celebration, has been about celebrating the joy of breastfeeding, all while bringing awareness and visibility, to the rarely discussed topic.
We at My Darling Doula, realize how imperative it is to promote breastfeeding in communities of color, so that nursing parents and babies can share in the many short and long term health benefits, of this nurturing act. This conversation is not about excluding white women or women of other races, it is about intentionally including black women.
Name: Kelley Carboni-Woods
Gender expression (preferred pronouns)? Woman, she, her, etc.
Occupation: Natural hair stylist, yoga teacher, writer
Age of child? 6 months old
What made you choose to breastfeed? Growing up I did not know that some babies weren't breastfed. When I had my first son I feel like I was following the traditions that I grew up with. I enjoyed the process so with my second son it was just natural to do it again.
How long have you been breastfeeding? I feel like I have been nursing for three years, honestly. I had a small three month break between weening my oldest and becoming pregnant with my second son.
What do you like most about breastfeeding your child? The peace it creates. Throughout the day we are required to take a pause for that time. When he is hurting or needing comfort, it immediately creates calm. When I have had a long or overwhelming day, looking down at his sweet face reminds me of the love and peace in my own life.
What challenges have you faced during your breastfeeding journey and how have you overcome them? My first son was admitted to the NICU 16 hours after he was born. For two days we could not even touch him, so pumping was the only "way" I felt I could be his mother in those first few days. Because he was getting the milk from bottles we had a very tiring process of getting him to accept the breast. I reached out to a lactation consultant who gave me some tools and I was patient and committed. We went on to nurse for 15 months.
Do you feel like you have a supportive community around you? I definitely have a supportive community around me, including my husband, mother, and friends. It has made all the difference to know my decision is honored.
What has breastfeeding taught you about yourself? That I am capable. Giving birth and subsequently caring for a baby can make you second guess yourself. At first you are learning them and at every stage there are new things to learn, which can be overwhelming. I work full time, running a business, was in an intense training with my first son and have a lot going on daily, that too can be overwhelming. Through it all though, I am able to make the food that for a time exclusively sustains my baby's life. That leaves me feeling like there isn't anything I can't do.
My hope is that this project, will one day encourage others to come out of the shadows, and declare their own stake in beauty of breastfeeding.
If you are a woman of color, we'd love to hear and share your breastfeeding story and photos ALL year round, please email us if you'd like to participate in this project.