Join 3,494 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Black breastfeeding. From the 'stuff you don't think about' dept.
November 12, 2007 1:03 PM   Subscribe

"I am on a near-daily treasure hunt of sorts. I scour our American past to help understand modern breastfeeding..." The Black Breastfeeding Blog, with photographs and history.
posted by kmennie (43 comments total)

 
Uh, is this safe for work?
posted by chinese_fashion at 1:08 PM on November 12, 2007


Uh, is this safe for work?

Are you serious?
posted by kmennie at 1:09 PM on November 12, 2007


panies tried hard (mostly successfully) to get women to use their formulas instead of their own milk. There is a need to get over our discomfort with it. This is a good start. I've also noticed PSAs aimed at Latino families encouraging mothers to breastfeed. Happily, I do think times are changing.

The interview with a former slave about breastfeeding (post at the bottom of the page) is fascinating.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:14 PM on November 12, 2007


Whoops. That was supposed to be something like, 'There is no need for women to stop breastfeeding. Formula companies tried hard (mostly successfully) to get women to use their formulas instead of their own milk. ...'
posted by krinklyfig at 1:16 PM on November 12, 2007


In order to spare their feeble, little feelings.

Ok, I got that far into reading the lactivist's (her term) blog. That pretty much sucked.
posted by wafaa at 1:21 PM on November 12, 2007


It seems to mostly be about generic breastfeeding, not specifically black breastfeeding?

If the author really wants "a way to reach black mothers who are currently breastfeeding or who want to breastfeed in the future," she should probably find a better outlet than blogging.

This site is most useful for that subset of women who creepily work breastfeeding into every conversation with the reverence most people reserve for discussion of things like the Resurrection, the Battle of Britain or the 1984 Boston Celtics.

But I'll bet most of her hits come from really fucked-up fetishists.
posted by Mayor Curley at 1:21 PM on November 12, 2007


From the 'stuff you don't think about' dept?

You've lost me. Who is this posting addressed to?
posted by RockCorpse at 1:27 PM on November 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


Why is it specific to blacks?
posted by four panels at 1:35 PM on November 12, 2007


I noticed banthebags.org in the site's tags and assumed it was an organization opposed to breastfeeding. It appears they're on the same team.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 1:35 PM on November 12, 2007


The '86 Celtics were better.
posted by Flunkie at 1:43 PM on November 12, 2007


Does Mayor Curley hafta choke a bitch?
posted by Mayor Curley at 1:49 PM on November 12, 2007


Why is it specific to blacks?

You ever notice that white women breastfeed like this, but black women breastfeed like this?
posted by rocket88 at 1:51 PM on November 12, 2007 [4 favorites]


Get your t-shirts here!
posted by flarbuse at 1:54 PM on November 12, 2007


Like a nursing baby, this blog sucks.
posted by brain_drain at 1:55 PM on November 12, 2007


"Yo' mama is SO...."
posted by wafaa at 2:05 PM on November 12, 2007


I will never understand why people who are so heavily invested in getting the world to breast feed their children have to be so sanctimonious about it that it turns off just the people they are trying to reach.
In order to spare their feeble, little feelings.
Screw you lady. I blame a big chunk of my post partum depression on the guilt and anxiety I had around not being able to adequately feed by own baby. I was hysterical about giving her formula because of this black and white "breast is best" message that says you're horrible if you aren't 100% breastfeeding. Breastmilk is great for babies - but you know what, formula isn't poison. And if you give breastfeeding a try, hire a lacation consultant, wake yourself up in the middle of the night just to pump, take crazy pills that make you smell like maple syrup and still find yourself with a baby who isn't gaining weight fast enough and/or bleeding nipples that won't heal - you're not a bad person for adding some formula to your baby's diet - or switching to formula all together. The bad person is anyone who makes you feel like less of a mother because you did.
posted by Wolfie at 2:10 PM on November 12, 2007 [15 favorites]


Why is it specific to blacks?

I don't know but I emailed the contact on the blog asking that question with a link back to here.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:10 PM on November 12, 2007


I guess I should put it less snarkily. I actually agree with most of the substance of what she is saying, but her tone is so off-putting that she risks alienating the very people she wants to reach (i.e., moms or moms-to-be who are ignorant/apprehensive about nursing). She would also be better off avoiding topics beyond the blog's scope (e.g., venting about illegal aliens getting special treatment). The recording of the former slave was cool, though.
posted by brain_drain at 2:10 PM on November 12, 2007


Or what Wolfie said.
posted by brain_drain at 2:11 PM on November 12, 2007


I was literally propelled out of my seat when I ran into an audio recording,

She was running while sitting? INTO an audio recording - like blam! into a giant MiniDisc? Or was it as if stepping inside an audio cassette and exploring the wonderful magnetic world within? And what's with the propulsion? Is it safe to breastfeed while using a jet pack? More importantly, is it awesome to breastfeed while using a jet pack? Because I know the answer to that last question, and the answer is "yes."

That said, the interview with the ex-slave was very interesting.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:12 PM on November 12, 2007


There's a PSA billboard near my house that says in large, serif letters, "Babies were born to be breastfed."

The sign is black, so I think this is on-topic.
posted by dhartung at 2:13 PM on November 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Is this something you'd have to be a mammal to understand?

The blog blurb is promising -- "I scour our American past to help understand modern breastfeeding" -- but the content isn't as good as I'd hoped. Or maybe the good stuff is way back in the archives?
posted by pracowity at 2:40 PM on November 12, 2007


I believe that breastfeeding stats are lower amongst blacks than amongst whites, so that might be where the angle comes in.

I have to admit, I have to fight against my own sanctimony when it comes to the issue of breastfeeding. It's much easier now that my kids are older to keep it from creeping out, but when they were still nursing and I was more involved in communities where a lot of people had infants, it was not always easy to restrain myself from sharing my opinions on the matter. Feeling strongly about a subject can turn you into an asshole.
posted by padraigin at 3:01 PM on November 12, 2007



There was an insanely stupid government attempt to encourage breast-feeding by guilting women into it, comparing not breast-feeding to smoking and riding a mechanical bull while pregnant.

My colleagues and I at stats wrote about it-- and later, there was this whole to-do over the idea that the reason the campaign was stopped was due to evil formula-company intervention.

Evil formula company intervention may have occurred-- but it's a good thing it did because this campaign was unlikely to do anything other than produce guilt and shame which are not generally effective in motivating behavior change as we know from the research on drunk-driving campaigns and anti-drug campaigns.

If they want to get mothers to breast-feed, they should provide paid family leave, nursing rooms in offices and other family friendly policies. Ad campaigns aren't going to change the reality that nursing or pumping on the job is nearly impossible for most women, especially poor women and therefore, especially women of color.
posted by Maias at 3:05 PM on November 12, 2007 [6 favorites]


Also of interest (apparently):

"Breast-feeding rates were 84% among white and 49% among black women." (qv)

Breastfeeding and guilt.
posted by kmennie at 3:06 PM on November 12, 2007


Yep, Wolfie has the operative word--sanctimonious.

Feeling strongly about a subject can turn you into an asshole.

padraigin, I also have been there and done that. I breastfead all my kids. But when the lactivist declares a non-breastfeeding mom's feelings feeble and little--well, that's just um, yeah, off-putting .
posted by wafaa at 3:42 PM on November 12, 2007


Thanks for this one, kmennie, it's got lots of neat stuff for history buffs - the evolution in this post is really striking, and this discussion of wet-nursing and black mammies is well worth exploring.

maybe the good stuff is way back in the archives?

Yeah, it doesn't take much digging at all to get to some good stuff if the stuff on the front page doesn't wow you. I don't always agree with her take and her written tone isn't my fave, sure, but it's a neat site overall.
posted by mediareport at 3:42 PM on November 12, 2007


Wow. I've heard people talk about grinding an axe, but I don't think I'd fully understood what they meant until this point.
posted by tehloki at 3:43 PM on November 12, 2007


Why is it specific to blacks?

The "About the Black Breastfeeding Blog" bit explains it fine, I thought. That's who she started out wanting to reach. What's hard to understand?
posted by mediareport at 3:45 PM on November 12, 2007


What Wolfie said. My niece lost at least a pound the month after she was born because she just wouldn't take the damn milk. My sister thought she was a failure, a feeling that was reinforced by doctors, nurses, and ass't other assholes who insisted that she breastfeed.

Suck it, lactivists.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 4:34 PM on November 12, 2007


Just out of curiosity: am I the only person NAKing in this thread?
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:40 PM on November 12, 2007


Suck it, lactivists.

'Nuff said.
posted by wafaa at 4:43 PM on November 12, 2007


Corpse ITL, not anymore.
posted by pomegranate at 5:01 PM on November 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Suck it, lactivists.
'Nuff said.


A sad stance to take. Given that feeding a baby in the normal manner was instantly greeted with "Uh, is this safe for work?" here, why do you think people end up radicalized over this?
posted by kmennie at 5:02 PM on November 12, 2007 [3 favorites]


I never realized people cared about breastfeeding, aside from the whether-or-not-it's-appropriate-in-public aspect. I guess there's activists for everything.
posted by hjo3 at 5:19 PM on November 12, 2007


kmennie: People here have their own minds--I don't think that "Uh, is this safe for work?" has radicalized anyone.
posted by wafaa at 5:39 PM on November 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


To be fair, wafaa, I assume kmennie is using the "Uh, is this safe for work?" comment to illustrate how breastfeeding is still stigmatized in our society, and how the simple act of nourishing a child has become sexualized and/or marked as creepy/icky/yucky, and therefore, NSFW.

That said, you're entitled to your opinion kmennie - but the essentially fundamentalist and bullying mentality of the pro-breastfeeding crowd is a far sadder stance than my distaste for them and their tactics.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 5:54 PM on November 12, 2007


why do you think people end up radicalized over this?

It's one thing to get radicalized against the establishment and fight for better leave for nursing mothers, more education and resources, etc., but there's nothing to be gained by "radicalizing" against other women.

I've never met a mother who would argue against the benefits of breastfeeding. We're pretty much all on the same team there. Breastfeeding is good. Granted. But some women just can't do it for various reasons and many lactivists refuse to recognize any of those reasons as valid. According to the comments on that website, those of us who don't breastfeed are selfish, whiny and/or just plain stupid. Attitudes like that really undermine the "lactivist" cause and alienate those of us who generally agree with their ideals.
posted by jrossi4r at 6:54 PM on November 12, 2007


more like the stuff i can't stop thinking about dept.
posted by tremspeed at 7:03 PM on November 12, 2007


“Suck it, lactivists.”

Well, those were the faults of those doctors and nurses and others, not for those advocating lactation in general.

My mom is an RN and the nurse manager in a moderately sized pediatric practice in Kansas City. There's about 10 doctors, all female. They have two lactation nurses. And they encourage lactation. But they are very careful to monitor how the infant is doing and if the mother is having problems and they are not reluctant to advise mothers to supplement with formula or use it exclusively, if warranted.

There is a sensible middle-ground, here. Don't let the extremists dominate the terms of the discussion.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:02 PM on November 12, 2007


What EB just said. The "suck it lactivists" crowd is behaving just as badly as the supposed army of rabid breastfeeders out there who apparently dominate this oh-so-furious "movement."

Whatever. Look, putting moral pressure on all mothers to breastfeed is bad. But only a fool would deny there's been an organized profit-driven campaign to replace breastfeeding with formula, and that it has succeeded way beyond its value. Some amount of anger among breastfeeding activists is completely understandable, and some amount of "hello? you've been fed lies for decades about this shit" is absolutely necessary.
posted by mediareport at 8:58 PM on November 12, 2007


The problem with the pro-breastfeeding crowd is that they never seem to change the minds that need changing.

When I was very timidly trying to bf my first kid (sitting at the table after a large family meal was cleared - people trotting to and fro to the kitchen), my generally lovely father said very, very loudly:

"Oh dear no - we don't want any of that Third World behavior around here!".

Stupidly, I was utterly mortified. I haven't a clue where his comment came from - some odiously swampy recess of his distant past, I guess.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 9:23 AM on November 13, 2007


NSFW???
posted by Mastercheddaar at 11:11 AM on November 13, 2007


« Older NASA proposes using a Stirling cooler (essentially...  |  Elena Dorfman's photos of Real... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments