The impetus for the Brown Mamas Breastfeed Project was a dormant one for months. Each time I got a nasty glare, surprised look, or harsh word from a stranger about breastfeeding my son in public, I knew that more regular women like myself needed to do more to increase the visibility of breastfeeding in our communities. Though I come from a breastfeeding family, I still get questions from family members about “my plan” for breastfeeding and when I’m going to stop. Today, my son turns 11 months old and I don’t have a plan for stopping. Some may pant me naive, but for as long as I can let him transition into a full-diet of solids on his own time, that’s as much of a plan as I have.
Still, my confidence in the power of breastfeeding is unshakable. This capacity to love my child through nourishment and intimacy has been a gift to me, even when it’s challenging. I wrote this about my background with breastfeeding in the initial call for photos for the Brown Mamas Breastfeed Project:
When I was pregnant, the question of whether or not to breastfeed wasn’t even a consideration. I had no clue that as a brown mama, society and even the people in my community would EXPECT me not to. I realize now that this is because breastfeeding was the norm for women who raised me, but not for a significant number of other African-American girls and women coming of age since the advent of formula. My mother had three more amazing daughters after me and breastfed them with no announcement or hesitation. It wasn’t melodramatic, just regular old breastfeeding.It wasn’t until I encountered confusion and hostility from people in public that I realized how simple and effective visibility can be in promoting breastfeeding.
I firmly believe that planting the seed early and often that breastfeeding is natural and mother’s milk is almost always best for the baby — magical even — can go a long way.