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TANEFER CAMARA

Mom, Lactation and Infant Feeding Specialist, Doula

 

BREASTMILK IS YOUR BABY’S FIRST LINE OF DEFENSE FOR EVERYTHING IN THIS WORLD, EVERYTHING.

– Tanefer Camara

BLACK BREASTS FED THIS NATION

Voices, Voices for Birth Justice, VBJ, Birthing Rights, Birth Justice, preterm birth, preemie, premature birth, Doula, breastfeeding, PTBi, Preterm Birth Initiative, Oakland, Bay Area, San Francisco, Fresno, Birthworkers, birth worker, advocate, parents, mothers,

The reclamation of our history, culture and traditions is important in improving our health. We have to reclaim our traditions and look to our elders and ancestors for answers to healing. But it’s complicated, because the institution of slavery and the structural racism that continued after changed how we cared for ourselves and our community.

Today we have young moms who have never  seen breastfeeding in their families. Their mothers have not breastfed, the grandmothers may not have breastfed and so on. That is the undoing of tradition and breakdown of an integral part of human development and maternal-child bonding. So we have to go further back in our family lines to find that we did breastfeed and in fact our breast, Black breast fed this nation. 

We have an opportunity to educate the entire family. In some places, people will say things like, “Black women don’t breastfeed” and that’s absolutely not true. Black women do breastfeed. We have breastfed, but we may be a generation or two removed from it, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t start now where we are and we can educate the entire community around it. 

 

“TEACH ME HOW TO BREASTFEED”

TaNefer’s video “Teach Me How to Breastfeed” went viral and is now part of the Black Infant Health standard curriculum.

THE BENEFITS OF BREASTMILK

Breast milk is your first line of defense. It’s your baby’s immune protection, it’s your baby’s nourishment, it’s your baby’s comfort. Breast milk has tremendous benefits to the mother: cardiovascular benefits, reducing the risks of reproductive cancers and diabetes. For mothers who are diabetic if they breastfeed, it helps lower and stabilizes blood sugar, so reducing progression from gestational diabetes to type 2 diabetes. These are the benefits of breast milk that we need to talk more about in our community.

We need to not only talk about the benefits of breastfeeding but what the risk of formula feeding is especially for preterm infants. Did you know that formula feeding increases the risk for necrotizing enterocolitis (a condition causing inflammation and tissue death of intestines) in preterm infants? It is also associated with an increased risk of asthma, allergies and ear infections. However, we often think these diseases are normal because they are so prevalent in our communities.

In the Black community, we’ve normalized certain illness in children and yes there are many other contributing factors such as environmental pathogens but even with that breastmilk still makes a huge difference. So breast milk, like I said, is our first line of defense in total health, healing and thriving.

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FIGHTING BATTLES FOR MY PATIENTS

Voices, Voices for Birth Justice, VBJ, Birthing Rights, Birth Justice, preterm birth, preemie, premature birth, Doula, breastfeeding, PTBi, Preterm Birth Initiative, Oakland, Bay Area, San Francisco, Fresno, Birthworkers, birth worker, advocate, parents, mothers,

As a lactation consultant, sometimes we find ourselves in this conundrum where we have all this evidence about the benefits of breastfeeding, but when that baby is in the NICU, you literally feel powerless because they’re like, “Oh no, the baby has to have this formula because they need the extra nutrients.”It’s also difficult for the parents because even if they planned to breastfeed many hospitals may make it extremely difficult to actually do. Parents may be told, breastfeeding will cause the baby to burn too many calories.

As a lactation consultant and as an advocate for families, I’m willing to challenge that. And I can back it with evidence, receipts, research, everything! I’m going to come well-equipped and I’m willing to be that advocate and fight that battle for my patients and my clients.

T’Amentanefer Lumukanda Camara (TaNefer) was born and raised in Oakland, California. She is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and Certified Doula who works at Highland Hospital and is a member of the African American Breastfeeding Cultural Outreach Taskforce (BCOT). TaNefer also hosts a breastfeeding support group called the Midnight Milk Club. TaNefer gave birth to her fourth child, Asangu, in the summer of 2020. You can read about her home birth in the LA Times.