This week is Black Breastfeeding Week and here at Pumpables we are celebrating by spreading awareness of the importance of Black Breastfeeding Week. Black Breastfeeding Week was founded in 2013 for several very important reasons contributing to low breastfeeding rates among people of African descent.

In honour of Black Breastfeeding Week, we’ve asked Tinuke, who lives in London, UK, to share her breastfeeding experience. Here’s what she has to say…

Hi Tinuke! Can you tell us how breastfeeding is going for you?

I’ve been breastfeeding my daughter for 4 months now and have loved every moment, even the 2am night feeds. There’s something magical about knowing my body is sustaining her body. I’m so thankful that my breastfeeding journey has had no hiccups.

Tinuke breastfeeding her daughter.
Tinuke breastfeeding her daughter.

When you started breastfeeding, what type of support did you receive, if any?

I was lucky enough to have my baby in a hospital with fantastic support including a lactation consultant, as well as easy to access community support. I know that isn’t the case for many of my peers who have had babies in the city and other parts of the country. I only know of one person my age who breastfeed her baby. The support just doesn’t seem there and it has left many of my friends feeling frustrated.

Have you encountered any barriers or discouragement within your community in regards to breastfeeding?

I haven’t received and discouragement from family or members of the public. But this is my second baby and I’m more confident and older than the last time. I’m happy to feed at the swimming pool whilst the eldest has lessons or in the middle of a shopping centre, sat on a bench. The first time around, I was conscious and felt the public were judging me. I’d feed in the car, afraid of being tutted at. Can you believe it?!

Tinuke and her daughter sharing a meal at a restaurant.
Tinuke and her daughter sharing a meal at a restaurant.

We noticed you purchased a Milk Genie breast pump! Can you tell us how that has worked out for you?

I started pumping at about 4 weeks and it’s been a Godsend. I’ve been able to go out in the evening and socialise, or just have a couple hours of me time, knowing that my partner could feed our child with my expressed milk whilst I wasn’t there. I’m going back to work next month, full time, and I’ll be able to continue my breastfeeding journey because of expressing. It’s been really great using the Milk Genie from Pumpables. I have G cup breasts and the largest breast shield fits like a glove.

How can I support the Black Breastfeeding Week movement?

You might be wondering how you can support the Black Breastfeeding Week.  Here’s how you can help:

Participate in a Black Breastfeeding Week event

Black Breastfeeding Week lists events on their homepage. If you don’t find one near you, they also list virtual events in which you can participate, such as an Instagram takeover.

Share your experience

If you’re a black breastfeeding mama, be sure to share your experience! The Black Breastfeeding Week organisation identifies one of the main causes for low breastfeeding rates among black women as being lack of presence in the community. By bringing your breastfeeding experience into public conversation, it gains momentum in your community. On social media, try using the tag #blackwomendobreastfeed with your breastfeeding story or photo.

 The most recent CDC data show that 75% of white women have ever breastfed versus 58.9% of black women. The fact that racial disparity in initiation and even bigger one for duration has lingered for so long is reason enough to take 7 days to focus on the issue

Be supportive

And last but not least, be supportive!  Let’s encourage other mamas to breastfeed, or to pursue dreams of entering the lactation or maternal care field, and let’s share each other’s stories. Tell your breastfeeding friends they’re doing a great job – no matter what background we’re from, we need to hear it!  Community is hugely important for breastfeeding mamas, so it’s very important to keep the momentum going by encouraging others especially if the support just doesn’t seem to be there.

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