Thursday, July 28, 2011

Black Women As Breastfeeding Advocates in Washington State

I took my nephew to a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese over the weekend and met some other mothers while I was there -- mothers of children who were friends of the birthday boy. I ended up getting into a very interesting conversation with two of them. We started talking about breastfeeding (I don't even remember how the subject came up). One lady, a sistah, shared her breastfeeding story, and how she successfully nursed five of her six children, and the other lady, a white woman, told me about the breastfeeding culture she was exposed to. I started telling then that I was venturing into the lactation area and how WA is really the place where I want to plant myself while focusing on this. The second woman asked me why is it that I feel I need to be in Washington for my breastfeeding career. When I told her that there is a lack of Black women in breastfeeding advocacy and representation, she just looked at me and shook her head, and I almost got the feeling she and my sistah didn't really get it, and I got the feeling that they may have wanted to ask, but didn't.

I recently spoke to someone from the Breastfeeding Coalition of Washington, when I sent an email inquiring about ways to get involved and help out. One of the things she mentioned when she returned my email is that she didn't know of any Black IBCLCs in the entire state, and said she hopes this was just an oversight, but I wouldn't be very surprised if wasn't. That is such a heartbreaking thing to hear, even though the majority of Washington State is white. But People Of Color are out there, and I just know with more Black women, Black men, and People Of Color as advocates -- more racial diversity, it is inevitable that we can encourage more breast milk and breastfeeding, which will give us the advantage we need to help end health disparities.

A this point I feel I need to continue to place myself in this area, plus I love it here anyway! My plans may change in the future. Who knows? But for now this is where I feel I need to be.

A Woman's Choice: Feminism, and Empowerment Through Bottlefeeding

I am not an extreme breastfeeding advocate or a fundamentalist. What I mean by this is, even though I support breastfeeding as part of the natural reproductive cycle directly after pregnancy and would love if all babies were breastfed, that thought is idealistic at best. I won't ever accuse someone of not wanting the best for a baby if they do not breastfeed -- remind you of a recent post on Why Black Women Who Bottlefeed Matter. 

Not too long ago, I got into a conversation with a friend about breastfeeding. It was actually a conversation through email, when I first told her I had decided to become a Lactation Consultant in order to play a part in encouraging more Black women to breastfeed, and told her about our numbers and how they are the lowest of any group. Her response was that Black women, whether breastfeeding or not, should do whichever makes her feel empowered. 

Last week, The Crunk Feminist Collective posted an article on choice, using the new breastfeeding doll to introduce the subject. The article, Tough Titty: On Feminist Mothering and the Breastfeeding Doll, raised some very important points from a feminist perspective, and raised some other topics that had me scratching my head (such as breastfeeding as uncompensated body labor, but I won't go into that right now). It also asked a few questions at the end that really had me thinking. The last two are the ones that really stood out, and I was reminded of the conversation with my friend on empowerment, and thought these two were related. Here is a chance for me to expand a bit on how I feel about this especially among those of us who are considered to be out of the mainstream and in the margins.
  1. What are your thoughts on breastfeeding?
  2. Would you give your daughter this doll?
  3. Can you be a good mother and admit you may not want to breastfeed?
  4. And more to the point, though I never thought I’d have to ask this question, can you be a good feminist and admit you may not want to breastfeed?

Even with my very limited knowledge and research of infant feeding thus far, if there's one thing I've learned is this: infant feeding is not simply infant feeding. Instead, infant feeding is a highly charged ritual that is infused with politics and debate, where various and extreme points of view can be found inside and out. It is also an area that is reflective of so many other areas of society, which is part of the reasons I felt so strongly about the article from the Crunk Feminist Collective. Information on breastfeeding and access to information on infant feeding, are most often skewed, and who you are and where you are, usually determines your outlook, how you practice infant feeding, and inevitably how you feed your baby -- you know, your choice. When feminist ideas intersect with these it is necessary to look at what other factors play a part in this -- complicating the situation.   

Mainstream society and mainstream feminist ideas continue to play a large role in the way it portrays feminism and breastfeeding ideas, where poor, Women, and People Of Color are continuously excluded. Feminist Barbara Smith says that the 'invisibility of Black women [in society and in the feminist world] has meant our ways for creative expression are infinite' -- meaning  our ways of defining ourselves are varied. For example, I once did a presentation titled What Is Black Feminism, where my point was to not only show my audience why Black feminism erupted (from exclusion from white women, and Black men), but to also show those creative ways Black women practiced feminism in a society where ignoring us was the norm, and where resistance was often met with death. One of my examples was Angela Davis' story of enslaved mothers who would fake her illness in order to avoid being separated from her children during human selling and trading. Other women who call themselves feminists may not breastfeed or may not want to breastfeed because it is not part of their culture. The possibilities are endless. 

Other areas deal with access -- to education, to information that is able to empower and provide information where someone can make a informed decision on whether to breastfeed or not. Formula companies strategically target our communities through unethical marketing practices, and in many areas access to education is low, which means lower literacy rates that play a tremendous role in the way we obtain and process information and how we try to integrate into society, to opportunities in our employment or lack of, and the way our culture views breasts, and breastfeeding. I have a hard time believing when someone doesn't want to breastfeed it is simply because they don't want to breastfeed. 

Questions like those from the Crunk Feminist Collective assume everyone has experienced the same kind of ideas on mothering, on breastfeeding, on feminism. It also paints a picture that our society is one where equality looms large, and everyone has access to the same resources, and neither racism, capitalism, sexism, or any other isms or systems of inequality play a part in shaping our outlook. This is not the case. Infant feeding and feminist ideas are complex, which is why we need to go below the surface in order to understand the ideas and the debates surrounding breastmilk, breastfeeding and infant formula, and how they are infused with implications, complications, and politics that determine who does and does not breastfeed and why. 

So my friend and the ladies at the CFC are right when it comes to having a choice on how a woman feeds her baby, being empowered, and feminism. Black women, and all women should do whatever makes her feel empowered, of course! The only catch is, truly being empowered means having access to information, access to education, equality, employment and ability where every women can breastfeed if she wanted to, which leads to the ability to make truly informed decisions -- not ones based on misinformation -- that is just too rampant in our society. Also, instead of believing that all feminist ideas are linear, perhaps we need to remind ourselves "why feminism?" And replace the questions with a good starter -- maybe one such as "What does a feminist look like?"  

Breastfeeding Funnies

This video is from a television show that I believe is from the U.K., that ended up making its way to YouTube, of course, and shows a mother standing on her head while the baby crawls in and nurses. I have to emphasize this was on a television show -- with an actual audience. Do you think this would make it on any show in your neck of the woods?

I keep wondering if this was staged or not, but either way, it's really cute and pretty hilarious. 

What are some funny breastfeeding stories that you can think of? 

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Indiana Black Breastfeeding Coalition: My First Breastfeeding Coalition

Last Thursday, I was made a member of the Indiana Black Breastfeeding Coalition, and I am ecstatic! This is the first breastfeeding coalition for me. Actually, this is the first coalition I've ever been a part of  in any area, so it makes it all the more exciting! The Indiana Black Breastfeeding Coalition is the only Black breastfeeding coalition in the state of Indiana and was founded in 2007 to "Encourage the African American community to support women in their breastfeeding choice and efforts."

The founder, Terry Jo Curtis, has phenomenal and extensive breastfeeding knowledge, history, education and personal experience, including being an International Board of Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). She is also a Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC), Pasteurize Technician for the Indiana Milk Bank -- making banked milk safe for babies, is a Lactation Teacher, is Certified to teach lactation in the workplace, teaches breastfeeding at A.M.E. Zion Church, teaches breastfeeding at health clinics, studied mammals and breastfeeding at Sea World, works as an associate in a pregnant woman's store, speaks on breastfeeding at churches, schools, events, and health fairs, founded the first [Black] Fathers Supporting Breastfeeding group in the state of Indiana, is a recipient of the "2009 Indiana Perinatal Network Most Valuable Player Award for her work in the breastfeeding community," and has two children of her own with two very different breastfeeding stories. She also has a very interesting story of how she became interested in breastfeeding -- through her grandmother's job as a wet nurse. So I hope you understand my high level of excitement.

This is such a great step towards working with breastfeeding among Black women, Women Of Color, and all women. And even though I have no idea exactly what I'm doing just yet, I know I will soon begin learning information to help assist mothers in various ways with infant feeding, and this is just the beginning. Building bridges and raising awareness -- paving the way to more success and empowerment in the fight against disparities. I am honored to be a part of this. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Free Breastfeeding Books

My Your Guide to Breastfeeding for African American Women shipment just showed up today – and I completely forgot I placed the order until UPS dropped them at my door. They are 47 pages long each, and have information geared towards Black mothers on why it's important to breastfeed, ways to gauge how much milk your baby is receiving, how many diapers your baby should be using per day, nutrition for both mom and baby, along with many other topics. They are also available in Chinese, and Spanish as well as for American Indian and Alaska Native Families. I also ordered a few of the white women's issue – the 'race-less' one – meaning even though it doesn't explicitly state 'For White Women,' there's a white baby on the cover and the text is centered around white culture. Looking at how this issue is positioned on the website  – it's the largest image and is positioned at the top of all of the others, I'm guessing this is assumed to be the 'overarching' and 'dominant' one –  that's meant for everyone – even in the absence of any other specific 'ethnic' title.

I have to say that although I'm happy to come across these, everything in me wants to tear into each like you wouldn’t believe to see if they actually highlight the different cultural aspects of infant feeding and race politics, or have they been made to mimic a dominant structure and that particular view on breastfeeding. I'll be  exploring that.

If you'd like copies, you are allowed up to 25 of each per month for free by ordering online or calling the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health at their number: 800-994-9662 (TDD: 888-220-5446). If you visit their website you can print as many as you'd like.

Here's some of what's inside.





Trade Books for Free - PaperBack Swap.

Becoming A Breastfeeding Counselor? Apparently Not! UPDATE.

I just opened my email a few minutes ago -- about three hours after my post this morning on not hearing from Breastfeeding USA regarding becoming a breastfeeding counselor. This is the response I received:

Thank you for sharing your story, and linking us to your blog. What a fantastic resource!

It is wonderful to hear that you are interested in supporting mothers, and are
in fact, doing so. Best wishes on your current path to becoming an IBCLC.
Mothers need more women like you on their side.

Thank you for your input about our Breastfeeding Counselor program. We
appreciate that there are many ways to help mothers breastfeed, and the more
people who are educated about breastfeeding management and are actively serving
mothers, the better. This we know is especially true in populations that are
currently under served. Breastfeeding USA Breastfeeding Counselors, peer counselors, and other mother to mother volunteers have a unique role in breastfeeding support. Research has shown that “mother to mother” is an especially effective way of providing information and support to breastfeeding mothers. Seeing or simply talking to other breastfeeding mothers increases self esteem and self reliance, assisting mothers in reaching their breastfeeding goals. While we understand the importance of more people having the skills to offer general breastfeeding support, our current focus is providing evidence-based information and support, mother to mother.

Breastfeeding USA offers a wide variety of ways to volunteer, and new
opportunities continue to emerge as we expand our programs. While you would not
currently qualify to become a Breastfeeding Counselor, we certainly would
welcome your experience and expertise if you wished to volunteer in another
capacity. Please respond to this email if you are interested in learning more.

Thank you again for writing us and I hope to hear from you soon.

Warmest Regards,

Jolie Black Bear
for Breastfeeding USA

So in a nutshell this is what I hear. The only reason you cannot qualify as a breastfeeding counselor is because you don't have children. Period. We're gonna ignore your a passion and commitment to help ending a long list of health disparities that can be thwarted through no other way than breastfeeding, and we will also be ignoring the fact that a large population has unfair marketing tactics thrown their way and an actual physical person who can be a great representative is beneficial and necessary. And even though research has shown that people are not breastfeeding their children in any substantial amount and are dying, we don't really care because if we did then we would work at getting more people to pitch in regardless of their child status. 

One of the reasons I love the field of anthropology is that it has given me an complete and utter understanding that we are not as different as we have made ourselves out to be (not that this is exclusive of anthropology, but it's something we highly emphasize)! This can be said in most areas of humankind and in our various cultural practices and cultural traditions. And even within the differences that do exist, they should be used as a way to examine and recognize that we can all come together, learn from and understand each other and work towards the common good, and rituals such as breastfeeding can be shared among different members of various cultures. Our society constantly want to place distinctions to organize and categorize each other so we are more comfortable at labeling those who are different and place them where we feel they do not belong -- I remind you of the way racial difference was categorized so long ago, and how it continues to be categorized today. This is also seen in the way we have categorized sexuality and various other characteristics and groups. We love segregation. In this case, we receive the message that only nursing mothers need concern themselves with nursing mothers, without recognizing more people can and should help out -- especially since the circumstances are dire. 

I still stand by my initial argument -- It is through the implementation of these types of discriminatory and divisive tactics where organizations like Breastfeeding USA claim to want to help end social and health disparities, yet instead show how they are directly compliant with their perpetuation!

I have not responded to the email.

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Becoming A Breastfeeding Counselor: Still Waiting. . .

Last week on Wednesday I sent a short letter to Breastfeeding USA about becoming a breastfeeding counselor. It was an unusual letter, I'm sure, since I was asking about becoming a breastfeeding counselor in spite of the personal experience requirement of having and breastfeeding children.

Well, I can only imagine the reasons I have yet to hear back from them after eight days, which is like an eternity in cyber world, and I'm not that suspicious, but can only think of a few reasons why I have been in a virtual waiting room for so long -- online companies usually respond in 24-48 hours, no? Well, in case for some odd reason they did not receive my initial letter, I inserted the link into the second inquiry that I sent just today: 


Last week I sent a letter inquiring about becoming a breastfeeding counselor through Breastfeeding USA. My initial request can be viewed here.

It has been eight days since that initial letter and I still have not received a response from someone from this organization. I am interested in becoming an accredited breastfeeding counselor in the meantime while I work towards my ultimate goal of Certified Lactation Consultant, and believe in spite of the fact that I do not have children, this should not be a hindrance, since this would be such a great move in the right direction -- raising more breastfeeding awareness and to getting more people to join in. Please consider this and my initial request while I continue awaiting a reply.

Thanks again

Continue to keep an eye out for the update. When I know what they say, you'll know.

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the Milk truck: A Mobile Breastfeeding Unit. . Forward-moving or Moving Backwards?

the Milk truck 
The Seattle Breastfeeding Examiner recently published an article titled Would You Like A Mobile Breastfeeding Vehicle On Call In Seattle? -- a write-up about a breastfeeding truck that will soon be rolling around the streets of Pittsburgh, PA. The truck's founder, Jill Miller, explains it as a "Mobile breastfeeding unit that enables women to feed their babies anywhere and anytime." It is a fancy decorated ice-cream truck, with "cozy chairs and shaded canopy" that is also complete with a giant boob on top!

How does this work, you ask? Well, let's say a nursing mother is inside of a restaurant or other establishment and has baby along and baby gets hungry. Let's say baby starts to fuss, or whatever babies do to signal they want to eat and mother says "Hey, my baby  is hungry. . . better feed it!" Then, let's say mother initiates breastfeeding in the establishment and the owner or other worker sees someone with the gall to feed a hungry baby and decides it is unacceptable and begins to harass mother, saying something along the lines of  "Hey, put that away. Shape up or ship out!" Well, then mother says something along the lines of "I don't have to take this. I'm calling the Milk truck!" So mother sends a  text message, which summons the Milk truck and a group of supporters who rush to the distressed two (or more) who reconvene feeding, bonding, and living happily ever after. Sounds like a dream; a heroic act, right? Who needs Superman. . . or, Superwoman, right? What's the problem? Well, I wouldn't necessarily call it a problem, per se. And to say this is a bad idea may be just a bit harsh. Perhaps though, maybe I am a bit concerned with exactly how forward-moving this is, and I'm going tell you why.

The most recent nurse-in in Michigan took place after a mother was harassed by a bus driver while feeding her two-week-old son. The bus driver's attitude, to say the least, was atrocious, as she demanded the woman stop breastfeeding or exit the bus. The nursing mother refused (thankfully), and informed the driver what she was doing was completely natural and that she had the laws of the state of Michigan on her side. But the bus driver decided this was still unacceptable and that hungry babies should not be fed on command, but instead go hungry and called the authorities. The rest is nurse-in history.

While I am in no way advocating  confrontation, I am advocating consciousness. I don't see how waiting. . . and waiting. . . and waiting to resume feeding a hungry infant while a truck fights traffic in a major city is a reasonable approach -- and that's just the first of my concerns among several, which also include placing favor on those who have cell phones (rare these days, not impossible). Advocating for human rights must recognize those in various circumstances. Can we really expect people to take breastfeeding seriously if don't stand for what we know is right and just? Will owners and workers really feel guilty for ousting a nursing mother who could potentially become rescued by a truck, or does it reinforce the 'Out of sight. Out of mind' idea? The Milk truck seems more sensational than practical, and appears as if instead of challenging the stigma surrounding public breastfeeding it almost encourages its intolerance.

What would have happened if the protagonist of this most recent nurse in, Afrykhan Moon (who BMBFA has recently called a modern day Rosa Parks), would have summoned a mobile breastfeeding unit instead of using the information she knows to defend infant feeding? Would we have had such a conscious-raising event where many have suggested breastfeeding education and sensitivity training of all SMART bus drivers -- something that has no doubt influenced other individuals and businesses that we don't know of? More than likely the mobile breastfeeding unit would have arrived, encouraging the nursing mother to acquiesce to the ordeal, and the attitude of the bus driver would burgeon, causing rifts and providing free passes to others to continue practicing this type of discrimination. 

The National Conference of State Legislature (NCSL), says this about breastfeeding in Pennsylvania: Pa. Cons. Stat. tit. 35 § 636.1 et seq. (2007) allows mothers to breastfeed in public without penalty. Breastfeeding may not be considered a nuisance, obscenity or indecent exposure under this law. Pennsylvania Senate Bill #34  (SB 34) states: A mother SHALL BE PERMITTED TO breastfeed her child in any location public or private, where mother or child are otherwise authorized to be present irrespective of whether or not the mother's breast is covered during or incidental to the breastfeeding.  This means breastfeeding is allowed anywhere and it does not matter if you are covered or not -- wherever you are you can nurse your baby. It is not indecent! You can find out about more breastfeeding laws by each state here

I understand that just because a law is in place it does not guarantee an outing free of harassment, since this has clearly not been the case in many instances involving breastfeeding and many other areas. Businesses refuse service to those they feel are in violation of their business code (No Shoes. No Shirt. No Service), and unfortunately breastfeeding is too often categorized as one of these. 

I am also not writing to try and place a negative view on something many believe is filled with good intentions since the opposite is true. I understand we all need allies and people and organizations in our corner, and the few examples provided above are the reasons why I believe if we don't look at these types of situations through a more thorough lens the outcome may be one we feel is progressive, but instead may potentially be regressive -- stepping backwards, as we readily and easily give up our rights.

The Milk truck and its team's belief is that "Hungry babies should be able to eat anywhere, at anytime!" A statement I completely agree with -- so much so that I believe this should happen within the boundaries of any establishment. I believe instead of making it too easy to harass and potentially oust a nursing mother, we use our collective voices and means to work towards more cultural and critical awareness of breastfeeding, on de-stigmatizing public breastfeeding, and on utilizing our rights in this matter. In this way, not only will we be able to remain aware of  our personal authority and speak truth to power, just like Afrykhan Moon, but we will also be able to make it so that no one need fear being removed from any establishment, we won't need to hide in a bathroom, and most importantly, we can make it so that hungry babies can and will be able to eat anytime, and anywhere.

What do you think of the Milk truck's idea? What are your concerns? What are the benefits? Would the Milk truck be more effective implementing additional techniques? Please share your thoughts.

Sign the petition to ask SMART to add "Breastfeeding Welcome Here" signs to all buses.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Consultant Courses: Medical Terminology and Abbreviations = Done! + Winner

I took the Medical Terminology and Abbreviations course online on Sunday. Go me! So  that means one general education course is completed! Yeah! The course is offered online by the University of North Carolina Center for Public Health and it's free!

I have to be honest that hearing all of the medical terms and the descriptions of some of the ailments kinda grossed me out. My stomach is so weak and I tend to get woozy now that I'm older, but nevertheless I traversed!

There's a pre-test on the site, and I thought I was doing something wrong thinking of this test before the lesson began (I know, dork). I guess they want to gauge how well you did before and then when you take another short test after they will know if you actually sat through the presentation (something like that, I'm sure). 

Five more Continuing Ed courses to go, and of course, the regular courses, which I'm already so excited about. I can't wait until school starts!

The winner of 

 Terry Jo Curtis!


Your name was selected at random via Please respond within three days or another winner will be selected. Click on the wibiya information bar on the bottom of the screen and select 'Contact Us' to send your shipping information.Thank you all for participating!

UPDATE July 16
New winner: Robynthemama

Your name was selected at random since I received no response from
the initial winner within the specified time frame!


I Asked Her If She Was Going To Breastfeed

And she said yes!

This may not be a big deal to you and you may not think it calls for a whole blog post of its own, but I beg to differ since this is a first. I asked a young sista who is six months pregnant if she plans to breastfeed. Exhale. . . from nervousness and excitement. Nevermind the fact that it was a youtube video and it was through a comment, but hey, she's a real person, so I asked. Actually, my exact question was: 

Hey, sis, have you thought about how you are going to feed your baby yet? As in breastfeed or formula? 

Her response was 

I plan on breastfeeding. And I will continue to do it, it all depends on how it goes because I hear its very painful and sometimes the baby dont take to it."

Then I said

So awesome!! I'm really happy about that! I have heard it can be challenging in the beginning, and it's definitely not something that people can automatically -- breastfeeding takes practice, but with patience and confidence you can!

There is support around u (not that you asked, I'm just excited when I find videos like these) that are supportive and now you have my username, too. I'm working on becoming a lactation consultant and if you have any questions ever, ask away! :O).

I had to know. I couldn't get past the fact that there was a pregnant sista right there talking about having a baby and here I am a Lactation Consultant endeavor (ee), if that makes sense, who had a clear opportunity to ask. So I did.

It also was a video where she talked about being 21, single, and pregnant, and that made me concerned for her overall, which added to the nervousness. I have also never asked anyone before that I didn't know, and didn't want it to seem as if I was imposing on her life, making her feel as if she doesn't know what she's doing, or that I portray myself as someone who would not be supportive of a Black woman and her decision to nurture her child the best way she knows -- even when it involvs infant formula, and of course there's more bulleted items on list. So that all ran through my head. But I somehow get the feeling that people like when they are asked and like to talk about the baby. So now I will keep my eyes peeled for more. I feel like a big sister looking out for my little sisters. Yep. Big Sister is watching!

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Becoming A Breastfeeding Counselor

A post came through my facebook feed from the Black Mother's Breastfeeding Association (BMBFA) yesterday about becoming a breastfeeding counselor through Breastfeeding USA's accredited program. I went to the site, since I had been thinking about doing something like this and think it would be a great idea while I work on my IBCLC, so I can have more information to pass on to nursing mothers, and not to mention a great opportunity to show my commitment to this area when I'm looking for places to volunteer. I can't. Well, I can. I mean, I'm fully capable but they won't let me. The reason? Long-story-short. Well, everything was just fine and dandy until that pesky personal experience category came up. I have no children. And according to Breastfeeding USA's requirements you must have kid (s) and have breastfed said kid (s) for at least one year, but other than that I'm good and meet all of the other requirements -- I could become a member of the organization, support their mission and policies, am interested in learning more about breastfeeding and breastfeeding support, can communicate effectively and respectfully -- and I really think I excel, especially in that valuing diversity area. Yep. But no kids.

Of course I could have omitted that wee bit of information, since I'm sure they're not asking for children's socials, birth certificates -- a blood sample, but that of course, is completely against my personal and professional code of ethics -- not to mention it absolutely counters part of my entire basis for being here; we need more people without children to join in! Remember?! It also does not raise awareness on the topic of inclusion, plus I'm not all that interested in being a down low student or an undercover volunteer. So instead, I decided to do what I know how to do. Speak up! I took a few minutes and crafted  a short letter to Breastfeeding USA expressing my concern for not being able to participate, and this is what it said: 

   I am very interested in becoming a breastfeeding counselor. I am in the initial stages of becoming a IBCLC and am hoping with the requirements for the exam, I will be able to sit in 2013. I came across this site on the Black Mother's Breastfeeding association facebook feed.

I currently am owner of the blog Lactation Journey [there was a link to this site, which I changed when I published this blog post, since I felt this not necessary here]

If you take a look at that, then you will see my reasons for venturing into this field, and the reason why I am here. 

I am very interested in becoming a breastfeeding counselor since I believe it will help work with the specific populations I am focused on while I work towards the IBCLC certifications, yet your website says it only allows those who have children and who have breastfed do this. I understand this on some level, but am bothered at others.

If you refer to a post I recently wrote titled People Who Don't Have Children Can Breastfeed!  then you will understand my concern. Breastfeeding a child, in some cases, is a matter of life and death -- literally. Illness is rampant and other health disparities are high. Some of these can be thwarted through no other way than breastfeeding, and I firmly believe when we have these types of barriers for people like myself, those problems and areas of disparities that we are trying to alleviate only increase. 

We need more people who are interested in breastfeeding. The goal is to provide information and support to those women who need it, and it is very disheartening to see that those of us without children are banned from certain practices and certain areas. Please take into consideration that in order to help end these disparities, we must must be wiling to recognize the role we play in keeping them active. 

Thank You

See -- nothing too fancy and right to the point!

I'm not trying to be a trouble-maker at all. But I do think consideration should be given to those of us who want to make a difference and involve ourselves. Breastfeeding is an area where everyone needs to pitch in, and I see no reason why I shouldn't be allowed since after all their mission is to "provide evidence-based breastfeeding information and support, and to promote breastfeeding as the biological and cultural norm." And I know I can do that!

Keep an eye out --  I'll update you on a response.