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


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?


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, 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 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.