I thugged out exclusively breastfeeding my now three-and-a-half-year-old son for two years. Eli did not take to a bottle nor pacifier the way he did my breasts. I mentioned and referred to thugging out my exclusive breastfeeding journey because I endured the backlash from others for how I fed my baby. 

I fought postpartum depression throughout my breastfeeding journey. So many times, I questioned whether or not I made the right decision to “exclusively breastfeed.”

My mother did not breastfeed me past six weeks postpartum. She wasn’t raised to do it and made sure to use her WIC to get me formula back in 93.

I turned out just fine. My mother did the same with my younger sister and brother because she was a single mother who didn’t know little to anything about pumping, supplementing, or having a breast milk stash. My mother was surprised and also amazed by my breastfeeding journey. 

There’s a stigma in the US that has done studies showing that Black women have the lowest breastfeeding initiation and duration rates compared to any other racial/ethnic group. Moreover, Black infants have the highest mortality rate. 

Unfortunately, more Black babies are dying at twice the rate of white babies. As well as according to the CDC, increasing breastfeeding among Black women could decrease infant mortality rates by up to 50 percent. This means that increasing breastfeeding among Black women is essential to building a world without NEC.

Breastfeeding with black women dates back to during enslavement. Black women were often separated from their children, and new mothers were routinely forced to work as “wet nurses” for white children. 

This meant that many Black women’s bodies were used for the benefit and nourishment of white children. 

However, black women slaves were denied the right to nourish their own children. Therefore, the meaning of wet-nursing has varying effects on attitudes surrounding breastfeeding in the Black community. 

I was my son's human pacifier. I went through so many horrible separation anxiety episodes with my son that I felt so uncomfortable leaving him just to go out and get groceries, hang out with friends, or even to have an hour or two away from home to myself. 

Every mom deserves some time to herself, and it was a little difficult feeling worthy of “me-time” while exclusively breastfeeding.

My nights were longer than my days with breastfeeding exclusively. My husband and I needed up co-sleeping with Eli to bring him comfort for night feedings. 

My pumping journey wasn’t as successful as I compared my milk supply to other mama’s. Pumping breast milk ended up being more of a job for me that left me feeling as unfilled as my previous 9 to 5 I held down before becoming a stay-at-home mom. 

Plus, just because I was a stay-at-home mom, people would tell me that breastfeeding should be easier because I was blessed enough to be at home with my child all day. 

They were slightly right. Yes, I was blessed to be at home with my child all day. However, I still desired to be respected and to have that get-up-and-go about myself as a new mother. 

When I first started breastfeeding, I was up to the challenges that came along with latching, understanding how your diet affects your baby in many different ways, and knowing that I was capable of doing my best with providing breastmilk. 

Now almost four years later, I am breastfeeding my daughter and also supplementing from time to time. I am optimistic about my journey with breastfeeding her too.

Here’s a few valuable things I learned within those two years:

Always remember and value the reason or reason(s) as to why you started.

You are nurturing a life show yourself compassion.

Document your journey and do not compare it to others.

You don’t suck at providing milk for your baby just because your boobs do not naturally produce over 3 oz of milk every session. 

Saggy boobies from breastfeeding does not make you unattractive, and it’s okay if your boobs don’t look perky, even in a high quality pushup bra. You are still a bad mama jama! 

Make the most of it. Breastfeeding can be exhausting as much as it is rewarding. It doesn’t make you better or more inferior than the next mom. 

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