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Breastfeeding Journey: Rina Thomas

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.

During this week, we will be sharing the feeding journeys of real parents in our community. Today, we bring you Rina’s story of the importance of finding support while on your feeding journey. 

For more information, Black Breastfeeding Week shared their top 5 reasons for needing Black Breastfeeding Week here.

How would you describe your own feeding (nursing or otherwise) journey?

I sometimes get teary eyed just thinking about how incredibly empowering this journey has been for me. Looking at my girls and knowing that I nourished them for 9 months inside of me and continue to nourish them from my body for months thereafter, it’s just an amazing feeling. 

What, if any, misconceptions of nursing did you encounter?

I honestly believed that when people said “breastfeeding is natural”, that it also meant it was easy and that’s just not the case. There’s a lot of challenges that can come with breastfeeding whether it’s your 1st child or 3rd.

Did you have any complications or challenges on your feeding journey?

Absolutely!! With both of my girls I had some challenges. With my first, I wasn’t producing enough milk which really freaked me out so I took the advice of my friends and sought out a lactation consultant who really helped me get through that rough patch. With my second daughter, we discovered she had an upper lip and tongue tie pretty early on which made our nursing sessions beyond uncomfortable and painful for the both of us. I honestly didn’t think I would be able to nurse her much longer but after getting it revised, it was as if I had a brand new baby, happy and content and I actually looked forward to nursing her.

What resources or support helped you on your journey?

The village of mamas that I rely on have really helped me along the way!! I know so many moms with different experiences and resources that are always willing to help  and provide advice or sometimes just a listening ear when I need it the most. 

Why do you think it’s important to have Black Breastfeeding Week?

The truth is that while trying to prepare myself to be a mom for the first time, I quickly realized that breastfeeding advocacy is mostly led by white women–I recall very clearly being obsessed with reading every book, blog, and article that claims to get you ready for your new baby and realizing that very few (if any) of the authors and writers looked like me or “spoke to me”. I would literally have to go out of my way to find something that felt like it had me in mind. I think that the absence of black voices in this instance creates a false narrative or at the very least, perpetuates the myth that black women do not breastfeed. Black Breastfeeding Week provides the platform to initiate conversations, pass on information, and shatter that myth.  

Do you have any specific advice to share with anyone looking to nurse?

Seek support, find yourself a cheerleader or several. Even if you don’t think you need it because you’ve got the whole “breastfeeding thing” down, it’s nice to have people in your corner to cheer you on from the beginning when your nipples are cracked and bleeding all through when your toddler is pulling down your shirt in public for a refill (if you choose to nurse that long). Surround yourself with people that will lift you up and support you through your journey, no matter what path you choose and how long you decide to stay on it. 

Thank you Rina!! You can follow Rina on Instagram.

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