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Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Lactation Journey Blog Is Now (On) Acquanda Stanford

Tips-to-Restore-Your-Dream-Home
If you’ve been redirected to this site, or if you clicked on a link from the Lactation Journey Blog on blogger and it brought you here, then you should know that was no error.
Welcome to my new home.
After much thought I decided to transfer my domain and my ‘brand’ over here to this self-hosted wordpress site. I feel I am  expanding in the ways I practice and participate. I had been wanting to rename the Lactation Journey Blog for some time, but since I’m pretty horrible at naming (good thing I don’t have any children, eh?!), I couldn’t think of anything that would really fit perfectly along the trajectory of what I wanted and that encompassed my multi-faceted ways of being — Black feminist, cultural anthropology, doula, CLE — until I thought what could possibly work better at explaining all of those than me? I encompass all of those things, right?! This area is still titled ‘Lactation Journey Blog’, because it has become a familiar name and can still be referenced as such when discussing, linking and talking about my articles, but writing the blog is a section of  the work I do in this crucial area. I wanted to ensure it acted as part of the whole instead of acting as the whole.
I hope you share your thoughts on this new site. I am still working on setting up each page, so please be patient and bear with me. Yes, I’m supposed to still be on a hiatus practicing self-care, and building my reservoir of inspirations in the meantime, but you know I love what I do and I’m hooked on this work. Honestly, though, I’ll resume that once I’ve finished unpacking and organizing things around here. Maybe. There’s a lot of work to do. But for now, click around a bit and tell me what you think. Don’t forget to make sure you get each new post delivered to your inbox by inserting your email in the right column under the ‘Subscribe to posts via email’ link. Also, if you have linked the former site to your blog or other project, you’ll need to update that to this new url:
If you were redirected in the middle of reading an article, you can navigate to the table of contents or use the search bar on the right side of this page under ‘translate’ to get you back to where you were.
Finally, I am raising funds in order to purchase a digital camera to raise a more much-needed critical approach in breastfeeding and bring this important viewpoint to more public spaces. I want to draw from the perspective of everything I’ve been writing about here over the past 2+ years that deals with the racial, gender, sociopolitical aspects of breastfeeding and others, and continue this with the use of digital video. Of course I will still write this blog, but I think adding this medium will allow me to engage community members at an additional level. This is something I have been wanting to do for a while, but a greater sense of urgency came more recently. All material will be uploaded to the internet and published under a creative commons license, for others to use as well.
It is extremely difficult to fundraise using the framework of critical breastfeeding awareness for Black women; many folks don’t know the significance, and others just don’t care. That is why it is extra important for anyone who can help out to do so. Please visit my gofundme page by clicking the icon at the beginning of the paragraph above, in order to support this effort because your help is both greatly needed and appreciated. And after you do make sure you spread the word — about the fundraiser as well as my move. I can’t do this work without your help.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Lactation Journey Blog Is Now (On) Acquanda Stanford


Tips-to-Restore-Your-Dream-HomeIf you've been redirected to this site, or if you clicked on a link from the Lactation Journey Blog on blogger and it brought you here, then you should know that was no mistake.
After much thought I decided to transfer my domain and my 'brand' over here to this self-hosted wordpress site. I feel I am  expanding in the ways I practice and participate. I had been wanting to rename the Lactation Journey Blog for some time, but since I'm pretty horrible at naming (good thing I don't have any children, right?!), I couldn't think of anything that would really fit perfectly along the trajectory of what I wanted and that encompassed my multi-faceted ways of being -- Black feminist, cultural anthropology, doula, CLE -- until I thought what could possibly work better at explaining all of those than me? I encompass all of those things, right! I decided to make Lactation Journey Blog a part of the whole, instead of it being the whole.

Welcome to this new site. I hope you share your thoughts on this new site. I am still working on setting up each page, so please bear with me and be patient while I'm still setting up around here. Yes, I'm still supposed to be on a hiatus practicing self-care, and building my reservoir of inspirations, but you know I"m hooked on this work. Honestly, though, I'll resume once I've finished setting up around here. Maybe. But for now, click around a bit and tell me what you think. And don't forget to subscribe to the blog posts by inserting your email in the right column under the 'Subscribe to posts via email' link. If you have linked me to your blog or other project, you'll also need to update that site to the new url.


Finally, I have just launched a fundraising campaign in order to raise a more much-needed critical approach in breastfeeding and bring this important viewpoint to more public spaces. This will be done through the use of digital video, and all material will be uploaded the the internet and published under a creative commons license. It is extremely difficult to fundraise using the framework of critical breastfeeding awareness for Black women; many folks don't know the significance of promoting brestfeeding, and many just don't care. That is why it is extra important for anyone who can to help out to do so. Please visit the gofundme page by clicking the icon in this post, in order to support this effort. Your help is greatly needed and greatly appreciated. And after you do make sure you spread the word.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Another '✔' For #DoulaProgression, Celebrating My Blogaversary, and Taking Time Off!

Yesterday I signed up for awesome online childbirth education classes, through Community Birth Companion. They are a series of birth courses, instructed by Divine IzEarth. The first class on labor starts Tuesday night, and the others focusing on nutrition, stages of labor, signs of labor and postpartum all run through the month of July. I marked off the requirement 'audit a childbirth preparation series' on my Doula Progression checklist below!

But that's not entirely what I'm here to talk about.

Today I'm writing to let everyone know that I am taking a break from writing this blog -- though my actual plan is to take a break from my work in this area overall.


Over the past while, I have written non-stop on issues I feel are important in Black breastfeeding and how they are connected to the overall society at large,  -- my two year blogaversary was last month. I never stop looking for ways to provide critical insight from my lens, and learn ways I can get people excited about this area, and join in. Know that I have been doing anti-racist and social justice type of work long before starting the Lactation Journey Blog. I really do love what I do. And I appreciate all of you who have ever visited my work.

But lately there have been more times than not where I have found myself not being as happy or as excited as I once was. These thoughts and behavior forced me to question the root of these feelings, and question where this came from. I realized that doing this work has taken an incredible amount of myself -- my time, my energy and my efforts. And I give a lot. I do not mind giving, or expending my energy towards something that has become so important to me -- it's just that these days I feel depleted and recognize that I need to hold off and keep some of my energy for myself. Even more, over the past while, I have had a number of things in my personal life that feel as if they have left me emotionally drained -- one of them being my 7.5 year old nephew getting electrocuted by a powerline while he was climbing a tree a few weeks back (he is OK!, but you can imagine how scary that was for my family), and I also need to tend to other areas and concentrate on relationships with people in my life. Also, I am still working on finding funding for school, and have just three months left to do so. This has me somewhat nerve-racked, so I need to dedicate much time to this. I do figure, though, that the universe drew me to this work, and because of that it won't let me down. I am interested in seeing how this will work itself out.

Other things that concern me is that I am not engaging my community as I should or as much as I would like to -- that I'm not taking it to the streets. I feel as if I have focused most of my attention on theoretical and academic areas, which I like, but I feel that I have not been 'in' the community as I should be -- or how I would also like to be. I will be thinking about ways to change this.

A friend, of mine, who has lent some very encouraging words at times, said to me that sometimes fighting the 'good fight' means to stop fighting. Don't talk about it. Don't challenge it. When I heard Angela Davis speak earlier this year, the question I asked her about how to continue social justice work, I know, came from a place of not only being frustrated with constantly dealing with all that anti-racist and social justice work encompasses, but it is taxing. And I realized I never heeded my friend's advice. I didn't chill. But it's not just my doing. Each time I wanted to take a break, I was sent a clear message, somehow, by the universe that it was not the time, and to hold off. Right now I am not receiving that message, which lets me know that I am OK to do this.

I think this time away will provide me with ways to build my reservoir of inspirations, revamp my energy, and gain new insight on ways to ways to challenge injustice. I'm working by not working! I will also be doing a 21 day master cleanse to help regroup and find my balance, but not before next week -- because that's my 37th birthday. And I am looking forward to red wine and birthday cake!

I did say I will write book reviews from my long list, which I still plan on, and I have a stellar Black Feminist blog carnival issue to post. Also, if I receive guest posts I will publish those on here. I just will not be writing any more material other than until the Fall. After that I will write as frequently as I can since I will be in school full time, and that will require a great deal of time, but I am absolutely looking forward to sharing this journey of Black Feminist Breastfeeding Anthropology Public Health, with everyone.

In the meantime, I wish you an awesome Summer, filled with love, light, family and friends. Or, just have an awesome season filled with whatever it is you need, whichever season it is wherever you are. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Radical BLACK #BREASTFEEDING BINGO - The Good Stuff!

I thought I'd bring you the second Bingo card -- I've got at least one more up my sleeve after this. I hope you didn't think I would just leave you with the dreary issues that was the first Radical Black Breastfeeding Bingo post I created.

If you haven't noticed by now that I don't really look at breastfeeding as solely an act between a mother and child, but believe everyone is involved in every aspect, and hopefully this provides a clearer picture of that outlook. I'm going to run into the ground that I believe breastfeeding extends far beyond mainstream ideas of infant nourishment and bonding -- even though those are, of course, important. It goes much further past the mechanical steps of attaching an infant to its mother's breast. And just the same as the first one, this card can only hold so much. Some of what is included here isn't really anything new, but to see the culmination and the community involvement under this umbrella, is almost never part of most conversations. When we all help out, the ways Black people can benefit from breastfeeding -- the empowerment runs deep. For example, you've heard talk about psychological bonding being discussed by Queen Ifama, challenging a legacy with roots in Black enslavement. That idea flows over into the inevitable increase of Black unity, which benefits the entire community, and gives us a higher self and social esteem -- and saves our lives. It also allows us to challenge capitalism, and saves us money while simultaneously helping to preserve the environment (of course Communities of Color feel the most detrimental effects of pollutants).

Do you see where I'm going?

Do you have BINGO yet?

But that's not all. And even with all of this being said I am still somewhat reluctant to post this card, without writing explicitly on the 'what', 'why', 'how' 'so what' and 'now what' of it all. I want to explain my perspective and where I come up with this -- which I plan on doing in great detail in a future post. But for now I want to at least begin a conversation and see what you think. I'm fishing for dialogue, and want to also hear your ideas. Let's talk about it!

Keepin' It REAL: There's Power (and life) In The (un)Romanticized Breastfeeding Tradition + #DoulaProgression

At the end of May I traveled up north to Xwlil'xhwm, to help a friend with her baby. Xwlil'xhwm is the pre-colonial name for Bowen Island, British Columbia, a city just outside of Vancouver, in Canada. Even though the reasons I was there weren't the greatest (my friend has ruptured discs in her back and literally could not lift her daughter for diaper changes, baths, or for anything else), I really enjoyed being there and being able to help out.

Being at the home of a radical Black Feminist queer human rights lawyer, for two weeks, as you could probably guess, had its amazing moments -- I'm sure you can imagine some of the discussions we had. Aside from being in the company of someone with congenial worldviews, and having those conversations Black women have in each other's presence that affirm our very existence, something I was so impressed with in is her outlook on Black breastfeeding -- her progression, where she went from being adamantly against the tradition to where she now 'cannot imagine not being able to have breastfed' her now one-year-old daughter. It really made me think about the way we discuss the tradition and also the power of 'keeping it real'.

Let me explain what I mean.

*I asked my friend for permission to share some of her story on this blog*

Even though she lives in an environment where breastfeeding is promoted much more than here in the U.S. (even though she says this is just a surface level idea, since actual support is greatly lacking), when I first mentioned breastfeeding to her when she was just entering her second trimester -- about the importance of breastfeeding for Black woman, she, like so many others in our culture, was not buying it. The messages about our bodies being reserves for others, along with other areas of concern about gender identity, was at the forefront of her thoughts. After that seed was planted, and with some encouragement to examine her biases and trust herself, she began looking into the tradition more.

She will be the first to tell you that she did not want to breastfeed. That initially she did so begrudgingly, even after she began learning of the benefits. That she wanted her daughter to have the best health possible, was still met with reluctance. Some people may view this as 'selfish' but I view this as a very powerful and something that can allow us to draw more people in and examine the deeper issues of breastfeeding for Black women and Black people, who feel this way but never truly discuss it. I think it humanizes our experiences. And it humanizes breastfeeding, and can help start new conversations on what it means to our community.

I can't help but think about breastfeeding and the way it is always romanticized -- how most only discuss how much they are in love with it. I'm not saying that many women who breastfeed do not have feelings of overwhelming joy when it comes to being close to their child in this way -- I've heard many of those. But I don't think I've ever heard of another woman who said they just did not want to breastfeed because of the reasons stated above, and only did so because of the benefits. Usually I find that aside from a few stories about how to decrease pain or hearing about other issues with practical matters -- engorgement, for example, often times these conversations about deeper issues and how this truly affects our desire or even ability to breastfeed, are lacking.

Am I making myself clear?

Another friend of mine talks about issues within the Black community -- about how our 'secrets' have been and are continuing to kill us. She says in order to continue to live, we must talk about things that are not easy to talk about, and that telling her story keeps her alive. I know some pretty awesome people. And I'm sure you can see where this is going in the context of breastfeeding.

Today my friend is even impressed at how far she has come. She says she cannot imagine not having breastfed, and recognizes that even though it took a long time to get to the point where she is now (and she has exclusively breastfed her daughter since birth), instead of viewing her milk as only nourishment, she recognizes breastfeeding for Black women as a site of empowerment, where issues that have been steeped deep in racism, gender normative identity, white-centric views and separation of Black women and our children, can be deconstructed. Nursing is her baby's 'home'. There was so much other good stuff we talked about in this area and I will definitely get into that eventually.

I think visiting was more than just about washing dishes and laundry, running errands and carrying a precious baby girl around. Aside from my love of Black women, and actually putting into practice that when I better care for other Black women I am better caring for myself, I truly believe being there opened an avenue towards a new set of ideas on ways to challenge issues that run deep in our community that have been situated for generations and viewed through this lens. I don't agree with mainstream perspectives on how breasts, bodies and even gender identity and others are exploited, and are big issues situated between an infant and its mother (and many others), but while we work towards dismantling those notions, how do you think the idea of 'keeping it real' -- hearing more stories of 'breastfeeding begrudingly' would work towards our cause?

#DoulaProgression

I thought I'd give you a quick progress report on my journey towards doula certification. The great news is I talked to Shafia Monroe the founder of ICTC, and she told me that my Certified Lactation Educator certificate will count as 'auditing a breastfeeding class', so that's such a plus. Also, I'm just an inch from being signed-up for child CPR and will be taking this course soon. Next, I plan to audit a childbirth class, read and write a review/report on the last two books on the list -- and oh ya, help some women give birth. I reckon that would help.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Mama Midwife: A Birth Adventure :: Book Review (Update) + Giveaway! (Closed)


Can you think of many other awesome things happening than an author revising a book, based on feedback from readers (besides a collective effort of humankind to improve the global conditions by dismantling institutional racism, patriarchy, ending war, abolishing the death penalty, and all other systems of injustice, -- a lengthy list of other things I can think of, that is)? But in this context, I'm talking about Christy Tyner, who wrote Mama Midwife: A Birth Adventure.

I reviewed this children's book a few months back, and thought it was almost perfect. My only critique was the absence of breastfeeding the new addition, even as the mama bear drank milk herself after the delivery. With that suggestion and another, the extra scene below was added, after Mama Grizzly birthed her new cub in a warm birthing tub with the assistance of Mama Midwife, young Miso, and the other Grizzly family.

"Miso's mama quickly placed the cub on his mommy's warm, safe chest, where he had his very first drink of sweet milk from his mommy's breast."


Christy Tyner said she wants to get the message across about her support of breastfeeding: "I am a huge supporter of breastfeeding and attachment parenting, and I agree that even a small mention of it will help in our journey to normalize, promote and support breastfeeding." 

I am so thankful to see this revision, adding this crucial breastfeeding image and story to the scene. 

Author: Christy Tyner
Publisher: Self-Published @ CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Year: 2013
Paperback: 11.50
Hardcover: 15.99
Genre: Children's
Pages: 36
ISBN: 978-1480244108

Thank you, Christy Tyner, for providing an updated copy of Mama Midwife: A Birth Adventure, for this review, and TWO additional copies for giveaway. At this time, this giveaway is open only to participants in the United States due to shipping issues.  Leave a comment on this post by Wednesday, and it will count as your entry. All names will be entered with two winners selected at random via random.org, and announced in next week's blog post. Leave your email address with your comment: yourname(at)emailserver{dot}com, net, etc. Each winner must respond within 24 hours, or another will be selected. 

If you appreciate giveaways on the Lactation Journey Blog, please consider donating $1.00 USD, in order to help me offset the shipping & handling charges I incur to bring these to you. Thank you in advance for any consideration.

*Some of you expressed difficulty leaving comments on this blog during giveaways. If this is the case, and you would like to enter please just send an email to lactationjourney@hotmail.com with the subject line 'Mama Midwife Book Giveaway,' and that will be counted as your entry. Good luck!


Update: Winners are Yasmin and Darcel. Congratulations!

If you have previously purchased a copy of Mama Midwife: A Birth Adventure, and want an updated version, or if you are purchasing for the first time, for a limited time Christy Tyner is offering a discount. Follow the instructions below to receive 35% off:

2. Click the "Add to Cart" button.
3. Enter the quantity and discount code. Your 35% discount code is UK22TJLS.
4. Click the "Apply Discount" button.
5. Click the "Checkout" button and complete the checkout process. An account is required.

Trade Books for Free - PaperBack Swap.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Updates, Interesting things and other stuff

I've been busy. I'm getting ready to go out of town -- out of the country, actually -- to help a friend for a quick min, with her baby -- postpartum care. . . . sort of. I haven't met her baby yet because I haven't seen my friend in a while. I am really looking forward to hanging out with them and getting my very long overdue dose of radical Afro-Carib-Trinidadian and Hungarian feminist, queer, human rights theory, from her. I'm getting a rush now just thinking about it. I'm also gearing up to return to school this Fall, as you know (if I can find funding, that is. Thanks, Sequester), to work towards a PhD in sociocultural anthropology, which I'm anticipating to be crazy insane as far as being busy and that taking much of my time. There is also some other stuff that's been going on around here that has not lent me much time to write these days, but I did want to bring another what I call my 'newsletter-type-ish' post, that has some things that are happening around and about:
  • Black Feminist Blog Carnival is coming, really. I am truly sorry I have had to push the date back on publishing the fabulous articles I received on 'debunking the man-hating myth', and know it is so important to continue to work on this perspective in Black feminist thought. The reason I am so behind is that I have not been able to dedicate the time I need to organize and create my contribution to this carnival, which is why it's so late, because I want to give the best representation to the contributors as well as the readers as possible. Please bear with me. 
  • I withdrew from speaking at the Inequity in Breastfeeding Support Summit, that's happening in Seattle in June. I did not make this decision lightly because addressing the impact of institutional racism, power and white privilege on breastfeeding rates and maternal-infant health, is very important to me. I also clocked some valuable time helping organize this conference, and was looking forward to presenting. For now, I will not be going into much detail about my withdrawal, but since some of you were looking forward to me presenting, I will give you the gist on why I backed out:
I really felt that since people of color were not the ones who held the 'purse strings,' or any 'real' positions of power on the committee, it was inevitable that issues of racialized oppression and white supremacy were being served up as stronger dishes than an actual address of the way these systemic issues are a major force in breastfeeding inequity. I felt that far from being involved in creating ways to truly challenge injustice and engage the most affected members of the community, the venue only became a way to center the experiences of white people, and that my remaining a 'Black body on display' and 'performing' for an audience, which became geared to the least impacted -- white healthcare workers, was very problematic for me. The way I see it is while this scene may appear to enact change and be viewed at resolving critical issues, it would not. Instead, it would only fortify the cohesiveness of whiteness and the deeply entrenched racism, helping it to mutate, making it much more difficult to see because it would create more 'white saviors' and 'do-gooders', who are not interested in challenging a system they benefit from everyday. It just continues the provide power to white people, and reinforce the dynamic of race and class. It also only creates more ways for these people to 'help,' instead of providing the communities most affected with critical tools to challenge the legacy that is racism and white domination -- much of the reasons behind these issues. It would just continue to disempower them. And create more disparities. And this is everything I work against. But like I told the committee, this is the way *I* see it. You may see things differently, and I would love it if you shared your thoughts.
  • My two year blogaversary was yesterday! 
  • Interesting things around the web:
  1. Dr. Breeze Harper -- the Sistah Vegan, just published a great blog post entitled On the Myth of Being a Strong Black Woman, Decolonizing Our Taste Buds, and Self-Care, where she was part of a talk and discussed her experience of being a 'Strong Black Woman'. I am so happy that more attention discussing these issues in the work of anti-racist and social justice activists. You know that I just recently discussed something somewhat along these lines -- mine, though, was about the need to make self-care an intricate part of our work and not view it as a separate entity. I'm really glad to see Dr. Harper's article/talk, and if I find other interesting perspectives on the topic floating around, I'll make sure to tell you about those, too. 
  2. One of my favorite bloggers, Darcel of The Mahogany Way, is fundraising to become a doula through the International Center for Traditional Childbearing. This is also where I took my training, and I think the course taught, which centers the experiences of Black women, is wonderful. Transformational. I hope that you will see the importance of supporting more Black women becoming doulas and all doulas of color, and pitch in if you can.
  3. I just learned that ROSE (Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere) Breastfeeding coalition is hosting the Addressing Social Determinants of Breatfeeding Conference. I'm not a spokesperson for this organization, really, I just truly appreciate them! This particular conference here is practically giving me palpitations because it sounds so exciting. It is happening at Jacksonville State University in Alabama, on August 23, and there looks to be an interesting lineup of speakers. This conference is not too long after ROSE's annual breastfeeding summit in Atlanta, this year's theme is about organizing, and is taking place on August 8-9. So. Exciting. I really hope I am able to go.
  4. Once Sold Tales, a used bookstore, is going out of business. I'm so sad to see this awesome Seattle-based company close their doors, after all of the awesome stuff they've done within and for the community. I really don't like to see most bookstores close down, really. I read an article that they are struggling to find homes for 500,000 books, so if you are in the area, stop by. They will give you a free book if you mention the story in the link, and have implemented a 'grab bag' to try and reduce their stock so even if you're not around here then you can get them shipped to you! Please check them out. Imagine the critical theory, breastfeeding and birth readers they have available. For cheap!
  5. Infant tooth reveals Neanderthal breastfeeding habits: Chemicals in primate teeth reveal transition to solid food, is an interesting article I read today. I'm insanely fascinated with Neanderthals and, believe it or not, I often times find myself romanticizing about eras when they existed. I try and find as much info as I can to look at how things are 'supposed to be', and I think it gives me a good starting point, I think, to see how drastically we have moved away from nature. The article is interesting, though just one tooth doesn't tell us all that much, but it's definitely something. 
  • Finally, I'm going to be taking an advocate/activist and blogging break soon. I think I'm finally at the point where the universe will actually allow me to take time off and regroup from this work. This is a first because usually, the smallest inkling of a thought towards this and I could almost guarantee that something, anything, would transpire, and send me a clear message that I couldn't break just yet. But I'm feeling it's OK this time around. We'll see. I'll give you more details when it happens, next month, so don't worry -- I won't just leave you hangin'. 
But other than that, that's what's happening around here. What updates, interesting things and other stuff is going on in your world?