Black Breastfeeding Week 2022: Spotlight on Author and Lactation Consultant Nasheeda Pollard
Editor’s Note: Black Breastfeeding Week is celebrated August 25-31. This year marks the 10th anniversary of this special week of National Breastfeeding Month. The 2022 theme is “BBW2022: 10 Years, A New Foundation.” In this week’s blog post, New Beginnings spoke with Nasheeda Pollard, author, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, and public health official. Nasheeda shared her personal breastfeeding experiences, her thoughts on Black Breastfeeding Week, and her recently published children’s book, Magical Milk.
New Beginnings: What challenges did you face in your breastfeeding journey?
Nasheeda Pollard: The biggest challenge I faced when breastfeeding my first child was making enough milk after I returned back to work at six months. My milk supply decreased drastically, and I did not know what to do. By the time I had my second child, I was a Certified Lactation Counselor, so when I ran into challenges, I knew what to do. What was more challenging was dealing with the comments from family and friends who didn’t understand why I was still breastfeeding. These comments were not supportive of my feeding choices and were very judgmental.
NB: What helped you during the difficult times?
NP: I was determined the second time around to breastfeed longer, so when things got difficult remembering my “why” helped. To know that I was making milk that was so unique to my baby kept me going.
NB: What brought you joy during your nursing journey?
NP: My level of training gave me confidence and made the biggest difference with my ability to breastfeed my youngest child. The joy I felt came from feeling empowered to know that I could do it.
NB: What made you decide to become an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC)? Tell us about your work and how you help families. What do you find most rewarding?
NP: There are many reasons why I decided to become an IBCLC: my own experiences breastfeeding my children, working with families enrolled in Camden (New Jersey) Healthy Start who wanted to breastfeed and were in need of support, and the things I learned while researching for Magical Milk. My work is centered around helping families feel empowered along their journey and helping them feel confident in their ability to lactate in a way that fits their lifestyle. I’ve found being able to talk with families and encourage them has been the most rewarding.
NB: You wrote a children’s book about breastfeeding called Magical Milk that was published this year. Magical Milk is about a preschool-aged boy who just became a big brother and has many questions about breastfeeding and feeding a newborn. What prompted you to write this book? What do you want children and their families to take away after reading Magical Milk?
NP: I was inspired to write the book because of an experience I had at work. In 2018, my boss was looking to purchase breastfeeding books for our families and ordered samples of a few books that were on the market at that time. None of them reflected the families we served. I began researching breastfeeding children’s books and realized there was a huge need. There was a lack of Black families breastfeeding in children’s books. This led me on the journey to creating Magical Milk and ultimately the decision to pursue my IBCLC credentials.
I want children and families to feel inspired after reading the book. I want breast/chest feeding to be celebrated and for it to be normalized from an early age. Oftentimes, our views as adults are shaped by our environment and the things we see or don’t see as children. I believe that exposing children to diverse breastfeeding images and having conversations with them about breast/chest feeding can help it become more accepted in our society.
NB: This year marks the 10th anniversary of Black Breastfeeding Week, and the theme is “BBW22: 10 Years, A New Foundation.” What are your thoughts when you think of this theme? Why does Black Breastfeeding Week continue to be so important?
NP: When I hear a “new foundation,” to me that means rebuilding. Trying to lay a new foundation on top of an old one just doesn’t make sense. This means uprooting and tearing down old ways of thinking, policies, and systems that have not worked for Black breast/chest feeding families. This week continues to be important because there is still so much work to be done to eliminate barriers for Black families, like access to lactation care, workplace policies, and increased job opportunities for Black lactation professionals.
NB: What is the best way to support Black families to help improve breastfeeding rates and to help their lactation experiences be successful?
NP: This is not so cut and dry to me. I’m not sure if there is a “best way” because everyone does not need the same support. There is not a basic solution to a very complicated problem that we can copy and paste. I do think a start to improving breastfeeding rates would be making sure Black families have access to outpatient lactation care that is fully covered by insurance in the early postpartum period when the challenges can be at its peak and that they feel supported. (There should also be) an opportunity for someone to come to their home and help them through whatever breast/chest feeding concerns they have.
- Black Breastfeeding Week: blackbreastfeedingweek.org/
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/BlackBreastfeedingWeek
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/blkbfingweek/?hl=en
- Twitter: twitter.com/BlkBfingWeek
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