A resource to inspire, inform and empower parents.

Breastfeeding All Around the Bay by Jasmine Marquez

It happened in that order: 1st I became a lactation consultant – 2nd I became a mom – 3rd I became an author.

I became an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) before having a child of my own. Wait, what!? Having a child isn’t a requirement to being an IBCLC? Nope, just like having a vagina isn’t required to be an OB/GYN or having had brain surgery isn’t required to be a Neurosurgeon. I am passionate about preventative health, became a complete milk nerd and learned everything I could about the anatomy and physiology of human milk production, and then learned the best practices associated with overcoming challenges moms have with lactation. Sure, since having my daughter I may mention a personal anecdote every now and then but believe me, most new mom’s four days post delivery with cracked nipples from a shallow latch don’t care whether or not you’ve had a child; they want to be heard, supported, and given a solution to their challenge. I absolutely love what I do! I have my own private practice, Breastfed Baybies, where I do in-home consults. I have also worked in the postpartum unit of a hospital and am presently working at my daughter’s pediatrician’s office. 

After I was done with school/getting a comical amount of initials after my name (Jasmine Marquez, MPH, IBCLC) my husband and I decided to have a baby. After a fairly easy pregnancy and SEVENTY-ONE hours of back labor + 2 hours of pushing, my sunny side up baby girl was born. We are on month 19 of breastfeeding with literally no foreseeable end in sight, which is fine by me.

Over the past 19 months, we have accumulated many board and picture books. We love reading. The Pout Pout Fish is our jam. Little Blue Truck, why yes, let’s read it for the 10th time today. However, I began to notice that not one of her books show a baby being breastfed, few have Black characters, and none show interracial families, so I decided to write and illustrate a book that has all of the above. Breastfeeding All Around The Bay is (or will be once printed) a sturdy board book. It’s filled with clever rhymes and colorful engaging illustrations, but also is a step in the right direction to adding more diversity and breastfeeding in children’s literature.

Women should feel comfortable and supported to breastfeed their baby out in public. The need for children’s books, TV shows, and movies to start showing babies breastfeeding is real. Infant feeding in media is almost always portrayed with a bottle. It’s difficult to normalize something when it’s not seen anywhere.

As a lactation consultant, I often hear that moms haven’t seen or been around breastfeeding women until they themselves got pregnant and started seeking out videos in preparation. How wonderful would it be for children to be exposed to this normal biological process not only directly from breastfeeding, but also indirectly in our books, TV shows, and movies?

From the perspective of a very hungry newborn, Breastfeeding All Around The Bay:

  • Normalizes breastfeeding in public, a right every women has with or without a breastfeeding cover
  • Features a Black women breastfeeding. Rates for initiation and duration of breastfeeding for Black women in the United States are the lowest comparatively to other races, but there are nationwide movements happening to help decrease this health disparity.
  • Highlights an interracial couple, something that is also rarely seen and reflects my family. I wanted my daughter to grow up reading stories that have families that look like ours.

I thought literary agents were going to be knocking down my door to represent this book. Well quite the opposite happened. I forgot that money is the bottom line for most things and a “niche book” about breastfeeding set in the San Francisco Bay Area didn’t have a big enough market appeal. I did promise them I am working on all US Major cities but alas, no takers. So I am moving forward with self-publishing.

Self-publishing, I very quickly found out, is a huge expensive process. Especially a self-published thick board book as the pages need special handling and drying (who knew!?).  To help offset the costs of running the first large print of books, I discovered Kickstarter. A lovely crowdfunding platform I am using for pre-orders. Funds raised from the pre-order campaign will get this book printed and out to the masses. I get down right giddy to think that I am going to have a physical book I wrote and illustrated out in the world, a literal childhood dream come true.  

Even when my book becomes a physical reality there will still be a gap in the literature and media when it comes to showing breastfeeding. I hope my book is a start to a trend of picture books, TV shows, and movies showing babies being fed at the breasts.

If you want to learn more about the pre-order campaign you can click here. There are lots of goodies you get when you pre-order the book. For those of you who are international and interested in the book, for now, the E-book, PDF printable flashcards, and a refrigerator magnet with current human milk storage guidelines are what are available. International shipping for packages is tricky and expensive but can be done much easier and less expensive through Amazon or Etsy. When the physical books are printed I will work quickly to get them on the international market.

If you know of children’s books that show a baby being breastfed please share. Let’s get a list going in the comments and support these books.

Jasmine Marquez, MPH, IBCLC can be found at BreastfedBaybies.com and on Instagram @BreastfedBaybies