Let me tell you a bit more about our guest author, Te-Anna Souffrant she is the founder of Gem2Gen Doula Serivces, a mutli-faceted organization, which offers labor, birth and post partum doula services, counseling and more recently a milk donation delivery service, she is also a wife and mother of 2. Te-Ana is currently a Certified Labor & Birth Doula, as well as a Post Partum Doula. Most recently, Te-Ana began her milk donation pickup & delivery service. The main goal of this delivery service is to connect families in need to those who are willing to offer their support, in such a meaningful and extraordinary way.
Guest Post: Breastfeeding, a true commitment…
My first experience with breastfeeding was 17 years prior to the birth of my first son, it was with the birth of my cousin. I remember vividly my aunt’s struggles with breastfeeding and remember her dissatisfaction with burning, sore nipples, engorged breasts and leaking. The hospital that she delivered at, although there were signs that promoted breastfeeding aligning the hallways and the rooms, the hospital staff did very little to actually encourage it.
You have to remember this was 20 years ago and still a bit of a taboo for some women, especially black women. She received little support from other women in our family or her spouse and needless to say, she quit breastfeeding within months of giving birth. I realize now that being a witness to those experiences helped to shape my decision, later in life, to be a breastfeeding mother.
…A commitment of love
There are no two ways about it. You either do it or you don’t.
My first son was born 7 weeks early, at 33 weeks, weighing only 4 pounds at birth, I didn’t get to hold him for almost 2 weeks. He stayed in the NICU for 29 days, before I could bring him home.
I never really gave much thought to the idea of breastfeeding before then, but recall that when asked early on in my pregnancy, my response was “sure, I’d be willing to try.” I didn’t know what to expect, hadn’t yet taken a childbirth education class or had any prep into the world of pregnancy and birth except from what I knew from family who had given birth and from the books that I read that helped guide me.
A few hours after my son’s birth, the lactation consultant came to my room, and in those first few minutes, she taught me everything that I needed to know, and provided me with the tools and the resources that I’ve carried with me to this day and continue to share with clients and friends.
This was all new to me, becoming a mother, and more importantly, because of my son’s health, a breastfeeding mother. Pumping, sustaining his health and giving him the best source of nourishment became my main priority.
My first time seeing milk come out of my breasts, I was in awe and couldn’t believe what this body could do. Over the next 4 days, my milk continued to come in, and I pumped feverishly and brought the milk to the NICU in the hopes of “nursing” my baby boy back to health, both literally and figuratively.
“You can’t do what you didn’t see…”
It is so true!. I didn’t see positive examples of breastfeeding growing up, especially of women that looked like me. However, I do credit those early encounters that prepared me for my own successes with breastfeeding my 1st son for 3 months (before I developed mastitis twice and the supply depleted), my 2nd son for more than 2 years and my Godson, in his early days of life.
Those experiences showed me the very raw, real and not so glamorous side of making the commitment to breastfeed, or at least to try. I also learned that support means everything. If you do not have people supporting or encouraging you to continue, when times get tough, you may not have the strength to get through.
I am thankful for the women who chose to share images of themselves breastfeeding and for the encouragement of my friends, family and other moms I have met along my journey who continue to support me and each other through their own experiences.
It is because of you that WE succeed, that we find the strength within ourselves to keep going!
Black Women DO Breastfeed and I am proud to say that!
Be sure to join us in our social media accounts to be up to date with the progress of our project!
And… Don’t forget to share your brelfies using our HT #BreastfeedingWorld
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