Breastfeeding Journey: Chalice Ebow
We are very excited to be showing support for black mothers, fathers, parents and infants during Black Breastfeeding Week. A recent CDC study regarding breastfeeding statistics which found that interventions are needed to address barriers experienced disproportionately by black mothers in their feeding journeys. Today, we bring you Chalice’s story of the learning how much energy is needed on your feeding journey.
How would you describe your own feeding (nursing or otherwise) journey?
I’m blessed to say that my breastfeeding journey has been a breeze. From the moment Jax was first placed on my belly, he scooted his way up to my left breast and immediately began to nurse. Then, as I’m embracing this precious moment and wondering if this little person had been here before, he pops his head up, takes a glimpse around the room, then proceeds. Lol! Minutes. After. Being. Born! Seriously, I birthed somebody’s grandpa. I also had to nurse him every hour that first couple nights because he had jaundice. It was draining, but it was preparation for what was to come with those frequent nightly feedings.
What, if any, misconceptions of nursing did you encounter?
I think myself, like many others, think that nursing comes natural and that it’s less work because your tools are “built-in.” It’s definitely still work. I didn’t expect the frequency for sure. That can be draining. There were times that I would struggle to find time or energy to eat and not doing so just makes you weak. I’m [not] embarrassed to say that I was a huge foodie before pregnancy, but with breastfeeding, my appetite is on a new level! Now I just have an excuse to eat. Hey, at least I’m burning calories every time my baby eats! #Winning
Did you have any complications or challenges on your feeding journey?
Knock on wood, none thus far and we’re going 10+ months strong! I would say that sitting still and dedicating time to pumping has been tough for me. I have a nervous energy and don’t really do a good job of sitting still. Some may refer to it as a short attention span… Whatever! Lol! I do have quite a stash built up, but haven’t had to use much since I’m at home with Jax. Once I build up the courage to leave him overnight to get to a beach (wishful thinking), I’m sure that stash will come in handy! Oh, he’s getting teeth now which means I may need to add to this answer in the near future.
What resources or support helped you on your journey?
Having a supportive team around you in itself is a blessing. Even though my mom, mother-in-law, or bonus mom didn’t breastfeed, they still supported and encouraged it. My sisterfriend, Liz, also had a baby a little over a year prior to Jax’s birth, and she was my breastfeeding guru. She was my go-to and her dedication to it was an inspiration for sure. Last but not least, m y honey (Jaxon’s father) was a pure BEAST (in a good way, that is). Although he had to wake up for work, be on his feet and attentive on a daily basis, there wasn’t a nighttime feeding or diaper change that he’d miss . We’ve burned the midnight oil many-a-nights. Good times and memories which I’m ever so grateful for.
Why do you think it’s important to have Black Breastfeeding Week?
I’ll be completely honest here and keep it 100% REAL. BLACK WOMEN RARELY BREASTFEED! That’s the bottom line. I don’t know why and I’ve had this conversation time and time again with my mom and friends. I’m not sure if it’s because we aren’t informed/aware or that we haven’t really seen it in our families. Maybe it’s the negative association with our history that makes it frowned upon or maybe we simply aren’t willing or able to put forth the extra effort. I really do not know. Granted, there are times when our health or even our schedules may not allow for this type of commitment, so I understand. I have, however, noticed an increase in our involvement though, so that makes me proud. Whatever the reason or preference may be, I do believe that we should at least educate ourselves and be willing to try. It is a sacrifice and one of the most selfless acts you’ll ever experience. Women are just phenomenal! Look at what God created our bodies to do — grow a child in our womb, deliver it, and produce the nutrients needed for that child to grow and sustain. Go us! I’m very thankful for efforts such as Black Breastfeeding Week and World Breastfeeding Week as a whole that aim to spread awareness and celebrate our sacrifice.
Do you have any specific advice to share with anyone looking to nurse?
Be persistent. I’ve helped a girlfriend of mine and my cousin to get their babies to latch on properly. My friend would get frustrated because her baby’s latch was uncomfortable for her and he’d get fussy as she’d try to correct it. All it took was patience. It’s super hard when your baby is wailing because he’s starving, but dedicating the effort to getting it right that one time can result in pure bliss on your journey.
Do your research. Reading and preparing for this can give you an idea of what’s to come so you aren’t completely caught off guard. There are also resources such as The Baby Cafe, WIC offices, local coalitions, etc. that offer FREE support in just about every community. Many people aren’t aware of this. Lastly, you can always take to the internet to forums to get others’ real life experiences.
Reach out! If you know of someone who has breastfed or is breastfeeding, reach out to them. The worst you can get is a “No!” Also recognize and accept that everyone’s journey is different. Life may throw us a curve ball and guess what we can do about it? NOTHING! We adjust, learn as we go, and keep it moving. Though I’m no expert, I’m always volunteering advice or help when it comes to breastfeeding. I’ve offered my support in the wee hours of the night to loved ones and I’d do the same for a stranger. Leave me a comment on social media @SimplyChalPal, direct message me, contact me on my blog SimplyChalPal.com, stop me in the mall, or whatever! Helping others along this journey called life is truly satisfying for me. We’re in this together mama!