by Nicole Sandiford, Founder
I don’t remember making a conscious decision to breastfeed. I grew up in Barbados, a small Caribbean nation, where seeing a woman breastfeed her baby in public was not considered an odd occurrence. For me, breastfeeding has always gone hand in hand with motherhood. In fact, I remember being ten years old, looking at my brand new baby sister and thinking that I couldn’t wait until I was old enough to breastfeed my own children.
As a teenager, I immigrated to the United States but I did not become fully aware of the state of breastfeeding here until I became pregnant in late 2008. As I gathered information in preparation for breastfeeding, I found story after story that backed the statistics showing low breastfeeding rates in the United States. On top of that, Black women in the US had the lowest breastfeeding rates when compared to other women in the US. In fact, whenever I did an online search for information specific to Black women and breastfeeding, most of the information I found had to do with the lack of breastfeeding amongst Black women. I found very few images of Black women breastfeeding and very few stories celebrating those Black women who were breastfeeding. I knew that there were Black women who were interested in breastfeeding. Once I had my son and started trading stories with other mothers, it soon became apparent that I was right. So, why did it seem like this community of breastfeeding mothers was so invisible?
That led to an idea — I could not wait for someone else to recognize our presence and realized that I would have to make that happen myself. That’s how the blog Black Women Do Breastfeed was born. The blog served to highlight the stories and images of Black mothers who had breastfed or were currently breastfeeding their children. Those stories and images were important, not only because they added visibility to Black breastfeeders, but also because those stories educated, encouraged and inspired those who wanted to breastfeed in the future. I figured, perhaps in this small way, we could begin to reverse those dismal breastfeeding statistics.
Since then, the Facebook page associated with the Black Women Do Breastfeed blog, has carried out the original vision of making Black women breastfeeding visible in our communities through sharing breastfeeding photos and stories. With the help of an awesome team of women, the page has become a vibrant online community that is a judgment-free zone for Black mothers to receive the help, advice, and support they need to begin and continue their breastfeeding journey.