Black women have the lowest breastfeeding rates & black babies have the highest mortality rates.
A friend & a Black Breastfeeding Week RVA Planning Team Member, Tasha Dee, reached out earlier this year proposing an idea for a group photo session for the sole purpose of sharing during Black Breastfeeding Week. We chose Richmond, Virginia as our vibrant backdrop & offered the session free of charge to encourage as many women to join.
“Black Breastfeeding Week is so important to me because as a black breastfeeding mom, recognizing the disparities in my community & bringing awareness to them is so important. I want breastfeeding to be normalized & encouraged. I want to be a part of sparking a conversation about how breastfeeding impacts moms & babies postpartum & beyond.” – Tasha Dee
We shot this in June close to sunset in Carytown & I decided that instead of coordinating outfits, I encouraged everyone to come dressed showing off their individuality with vibrant colors. Make a statement.
They killed it.
I didn’t have time to location scout prior to the shoot being that I don’t reside in Richmond, so I had to take a quick tour around day-of to decide on where to shoot. Carytown is a bustling artsy fartsy kind a place. There were people everywhere. I kept eyeing this greenery growing wildly in an alley behind a restaurant. Yep, we drove out to Richmond to take photos in some random city alley. And we knocked it out of the park!
“I’m a community partner/CLC/wife and mom of 2. I have a 5 year old girl and a 15 month old son. I’m so excited to do this shoot because breastfeeding has been a passion of mine since 2012” -Keya
“I’m a wife to my dream man, mama to two crazy babies (30m & 9m), and just recently opening up a private practice as a lactation specialist, postpartum mood disorder counselor, and doula. Women and babies are my passion, especially those of marginalized groups so I’m so excited to be apart of this project. Despite all the odds, I breastfed/ currently feed both babies. My toddler steals milk every now and again, but I weaned her at 25 months.” -Kaylani
“I am a Social Worker/Wife/Mom of 6 (5 boys and 1 girl). I breastfed each one of my kids however I supplemented with formula while nursing my older 5 boys! Now that my husband and I have been blessed with a baby girl I am determined to exclusively breastfeed. I have found so much support this go around and is stoked to be apart of a project that will encourage other mothers to consider breastfeeding!” – Shanta
“I’m a married mom of 4 girls (7, 4, 3, and 9m) currently studying to be an RN. I breastfed them all and currently nursing our youngest.” – Maurnie
Jessica. She doesn’t do social media, but was willing to partake & have her image shared to raise awareness. Look how stunning she & her son are. She was my very first paritcipant & with so much confidence, whipped her breast out & started to feed her son. I knew then that this was something so special & I was so grateful to have been a part of it.
A qoute I found on RVA Breastfeeding Week’s Facebook page of one of our very own participant’s partner. “Black Breastfeeding Week is important to me because as a man, it’s up to me to help educate misinformed men on the facts that so many of us just aren’t educated on. I want to be one of the faces that help stop what appears to be a negative stigma concerning the sexualiztion of women breastfeeding.” – Rashad Lewis
A huge thank you to everyone who participated & to all of the groups & programs for sharing. These images were up for grabs to whomever needed them to help promote their Black Breastfeeding Week events and/or to simply raise awareness. Black Breastfeeding Week, RVA Breastfeeds, & La Le Leche League Hampton Roads, were just a few of the many who shared the images with pride.
One last qoute I found to be profound through RVA Black Breastfeeding Week, ” Women need more than their actual physical breasts to breastfeed. They need support. They need the infrastructure there to help them do so, and so many communities lack this basic infrastructure.” – Kimberly Seals Allers