Saturday, September 18, 2010

Black Woman Breastfeeding

I had written a post prior to giving birth about whether or not breastfeeding hurts. Now that I'm a month into my breastfeeding relationship with Nia I wanted to post an update:

In the hospital and prior to giving birth as well as after I received conflicting information about how to breastfeed: Do/don't push the baby's head towards the breast, tickle the nose with your nipple/tickle her upper lip, let her feed as long as she wants/only let her feed for 15 minutes per side etc. You get the drift!

This was very confusing. 

When Nia was born after I was stitched up from my 4th degree tear, she was finally placed on my chest, and she latched right on and ate. The nurse showed me how to latch her own and it didn't hurt, but it was hard for me to latch her on in the same way from there on out, and I quickly became sore, raw even. 

I knew that I had to get just not the nipple, but the aerola into Nia's mouth but even one of the nurses told me that Nia didn't seem to open her mouth very wide, but assured me that would change as she grew. Well, still Nia doesn't open her mouth very wide, and her opening has become even smaller! She looks like a baby bird when she's ready to eat. 

Two weeks ago Nia gummed me hard, and I started to bleed. I took her off the breast for three days while I healed while using Lansinoh. During this time I pumped and fed her from the syringe which she hated (we waited until she was one month old to introduce the bottle as to avoid nipple confusion). I also fervently read online, especially Kelly Mom, so I would know how better to latch her on. That site really helped and while I was so scared of the possible pain when I finally decided to re-latch her, it actually worked and was painless (I practiced on the opposite breast first).  

How Nia holds her hands while breastfeeding 

Now that it's finally painless for me, I've noticed Nia has become fussy at the breast, spits up, has frequent hiccups and pulls away a lot. I've read online that this is most likely due to my oversupply and quick let down which overwhelms her. At first I thought it was reflux but a friend in a forum let me know it wasn't if Nia's been taking to the bottle fine which was the case. 

I've decided to switch positions when feeding Nia and laying side-by-side, which my mom suggested as worked best for night-time feedings when her fussiness tends to increase. Only issue is that she ends up laying in the bed with me, I fall asleep then wake up alarmed that I've crushed her (I haven't!). It's just too scary for me, but for now it's working so we'll see. Most times she's just laying there wide-eyed waving her arms and kicking her legs looking very content; it's kinda cute!

Well, getting back to the title of this post, my parents were in town this past weekend and saw the ad campaign encouraging breastfeeding. The blog Blacktating mentioned it as well and had this previous article about images of black women breastfeeding. 

Coming from an advertising background, in general I'm used to not seeing many mainstream images of black women, but lack of breastfeeding really is an epidemic in the black community. The more images we see the better. My parents took issue with the ad campaign showing breastfeeding in public. While I personally cover up in public, I don't think breastfeeding in public is something to be ashamed of. I decide to cover up (or use a "breast burqa," as some call it) because I don't want to give the perverts of NYC a free show. Lord knows I get enough lewd comments while fully clothed and even when I was pregnant, let alone exposing my breast. That is just my decision, and I'm happy with it. 

So that is my update on my breastfeeding experience. I'll be posting others as it continues . . .


  1. Good for you! keep up the good work, it is hard. but your doing a great job! ps - love the way she holds her hands. Olivia likes to hold on real tight to my shirt, as if she thinks i'm doing to drop her or something. its cute to see/hear about how different each baby is when it comes to their eating habits! : )

  2. Keep up the good work! I hope to BF whenever we have kids, and hearing stories like yours makes me realize it won't be all puppies & rainbows, but it's normal and done everyday around the world... quite literally. I find your story inspirational!

  3. Quiana I'm so proud of you for keeping on with the breastfeeding even after all that pain of the raw and bleeding nipples. You are an incredible mother. I'm glad the feedings are going better for you and Nia. I love the way she holds her hands too when she's eating... so cute!

    I don't mind either the breastfeeding in public and I always liked to cover up too but I think it's just a choice each woman has to make with her comfort level of breastfeeding in public.

  4. Beautiful, my Sol had spit up issues as well as frequent hiccups. I too have an oversupply. Other things that worked for us was pumping to empty the breast a lil before feedings, otherwise Sol would be so frustrated with the fast flow she would fuss, fuss, fuss. I also reclined when feeding her so she pretty much laid chest to chest while eating. I also would block feed. WIth these changes she stopped spitting up at about 4 months old. Initially we thought it was reflux, but she was gaining weight and not in any discomfort when spitting up. It did get worse around 2 months, but now at 8 months she never spits up. I am so grateful I did a bit of research before giving her the medicine that was presecribed to her for reflux.

    Nia is adorable, good luck with breastfeeding and thanks so much for your visits to my blog. I'm glad we found each others.

  5. I'm glad you were able to work through any issues. It really sounds like BF can be a continually evolving process.

    I hope my experience will be different if we have another baby. I was happy to find out all the rawness and soreness went away after I took a break and exclusively pumped for a while. Once things healed up, we tried again and I was finally able to see how it might be a pleasurable experience. Me crying in the nursery chair in pain while he happily nursed was not the business.

  6. When I breast fed my son for the first time, it hurt so bad and it startled me to the point where my reaction was to push his little head off my boob. But I stuck with and eventually got it. I just had to bear through the pain.

  7. Thank you ladies for sharing your feedback! I think it's so powerful that we all keep sharing our experiences. There's so much confusing information out there and it's easy to feel like you're doing things all wrong sometimes when honestly we each have to do what works best for us. I'm excited to see how my BF relationship with Nia will evolve over the coming year.