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

The Realities of Breastfeeding

Gina Brocker is a documentary photographer based in Boston. Her photo essay, Latched On, depicts the realities of breastfeeding in our modern culture. It has just been published in Time and Globe and Mail.

Gina Brocker writes, “With my ten-month-old son strapped onto my front and camera in hand, I squeezed into Monica’s SUV. I began to document her feeding her sixteen-month-old daughter following the regular afternoon pick up of her older daughter. Marlin was snug in her lap nursing, while three-year-old Simona climbed to the front of the car to see what other entertainment she could find. Kids songs played on the speakers and the cracked windows let just enough breeze in. They were parked outside the Arnold Arboretum, in Boston, hoping to take advantage of the spring weather.” 
Gine Brocker Lacthed On
“As I sit here multi tasking at afternoon pick up with the older sister occupied and Marlin happily suckling in my lap I realize that breastfeeding isn’t always “beautiful”in the aesthetic sense. What I love about it is the raw immediacy. A procrastinator and unplanner by nature, breastfeeding fits my lifestyle perfectly. Nothing to remember, nothing to clean just my ladies and my baby. It’s not uncommon for me to have Marlin in the wrap or sling feeding while playing with big Sister Simona at a playground or while running errands. Breastfeeding provides me with that sort of freedom and also empowerment. I don’t think it was by mistake that God designed our bodies to be sufficient. When all is stripped away I am still enough for my babies and that is powerful. That feeling of empowerment is what continues to propel me through the unknowns & trials of parenthood with confidence.”
– Monica, Canton, Massachusetts
Gina Brocker Lacthed On
Gina Brocker Lacthed On
Gina Brocker Lacthed On
 
Breastfeeding is a choice and commitment. With its many rewards, comes challenges and sacrifices. Physical pain, being constantly on call and the unbalanced caregiving between you and your partner to name a few. Battling outside criticism and judgment is often another hurdle families have to face. Often mothers feel pressured from their own families to stop breastfeeding once their baby gets to a certain age. Partners have suggested that it’s inappropriate to nurse in certain public settings. One mother had laughing teenage boys photograph her while breastfeeding on public transportation. 
Gina Brocker Lacthed On
Gina Brocker Latched On
Gina Brocker Latched On
 
According to the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, in the US, 81.1% percent of babies are breastfeed and 51.8% of them make it to six months. Of this 51.8%, roughly one-fourth are exclusively breastfed, meaning no formula was used. Throughout the rest of the world, an average of 43% of babies are exclusively breasted until sixth months of age. This past Spring, the US opposed a resolution to encourage breastfeeding in Geneva for the United Nations-affiliated World Health Assembly. A stark contrast to the Obama administration which supported the World Health Organization’s longstanding policy of encouraging breastfeeding. A 2016 study in The Lancet found that universal breastfeeding would prevent 800,000 child deaths a year globally, save $300 billion in health care cost and improve economic outcomes for those raised on breast milk.  
Gina Brocker Latch On
Gina Brocker Latched On
Gina Brocker Latched On
After personally navigating uncomfortable and challenging situations, the need to share the realities of breastfeeding led me to begin this project. Usually worn in a wrap, and often nursing, my son, and later, daughter, and I ventured into over 50 Boston-based families’ homes and lives to document their typical breastfeeding routines. Hearing from the various caregivers reaffirmed how crucial sharing their experience is. Knowing the realities of breastfeeding empowers families and normalizes this very natural and beneficial part of life. You can follow Gina Brocker’s entire project at her website

5 Breastfeeding Tips to Help You Get Through the Night

Nothing prepares you for being a parent. While the first few weeks and months are unforgettable they are also incredibly exhausting.

Amongst all the excitement and the attention given to the newborn, something often gets forgotten, that’s the health of one very important person, you – the mom. And as you have a little one to care for now, nothing is as essential as sustaining your own physical and mental health. [Read more…]

#OrlandoStrong

Exley reaching up to the LGBTQ flag

We stand with everyone in the LGBTQ community, your family and friends. We mourn the lost lives with you and feel your power in the aftermath of this hate crime. We think of you every time we look in or out our window. I am dedicated to teaching my sons love, peace, acceptance and that they can love whoever they want. #OrlandoStrong

This is Life

Every night at 8pm I come out of our bedroom after nursing Jack to sleep. I meet my husband in the dark hallway who has just come up from rocking Exley to sleep. I pull my left breast out of the top of my shirt. I place my left hand on Exley’s back and my right hand under his bottom. My husband places his right hand on Exley’s lower back and his left hand on Exley’s arm. I scoop Exley to my breast. I carry him into our room and lie down next to Jack while Exley nurses for a few minutes. I slip my nipple out of his mouth. I stand up and look back at my 2 little boys sleeping next to each other as I quietly leave the room. [Read more…]

Breastfeeding Is Not Private

Breastfeeding isn’t private for me. At all. It’s no more private for me than eating, sipping water, holding my husband’s hand or hugging friends. It’s private for some people and that’s totally cool. That’s just not my personal story. No one would ever interrupt my husband and I holding hands while eating dinner to tell us we were being inappropriate. I don’t see any reason to do this to a breastfeeding mother. Ever. There is never a reason to treat a breastfeeding mother any different than anyone else on the street. Unless she is about to wander into traffic just let her be.

Abby Theuring, The Badass Breastfeeder, breastfeeding in public

My Ugly Belly Bulge

This past weekend I was getting dressed for Easter Sunday brunch. When I put on my dress I realized I had forgotten my shaper, which is really just high-as-hell underwear to cover up that little bugle I have that sticks out over regular underwear or pants. I stood in the mirror scolding this belly bulge and myself for forgetting the most important piece of my wardrobe; the one that covers up my true body shape. [Read more…]

Weaning: Your Story. You Own It.

By Wendy Wisner

Wendy Wisner breastfeeding son

We need to come up with new language for long-term breastfeeding.

Here’s the thing: I’ve used all the terms myself. I have said I’m doing “child-led weaning.” I’ve called it “natural weaning.” I say often that I am nursing my children “until they are done.” I have called myself an “extended breastfeeder” and I have said I am nursing my kids “long-term.” [Read more…]

How to Get the Perfect Family Photo

IMG_3663

Any parent can look at this photo and instantly tell why it’s the perfect family photo. When have you ever seen an entire family that includes a 3.5-year-old and a 6-month-old all looking at the camera? We were all shocked. Let me tell you how it happened!

I have a camera that can be set to continuous shot while on a timer. I set the continuous shot for 10, pushed the button and ran into the picture. The camera then flashed 10 times. By the 10th time even the baby was looking over to see what all the noise and light was. Viola!

Abby Theuring, MSW

“You’re Making Me Feel Guilty”

Sharing information is not an attack on you. It is not designed to make you feel guilty. In fact, NOT sharing information is a direct attack on our authority as parents. Not having information is directly related to many of our regretful parenting decisions (certainly for me). [Read more…]