Name: Elita Kalma
Children & Ages: Miles, 4 & Aminah, 4 months
How long did/are you breastfeed(ing)? Miles was breastfed for 3 years and Aminah is still happily nursing.
How did you know to breastfeed? My mom breastfed me until I was about 18 months old so I always knew if I had children that I would breastfeed them.
Please explain to us your overall breastfeeding experience. Both of my kids were tongue-tied so breastfeeding was very tough in the beginning. With Miles, my pediatrician said his frenulum looked “a little tight” but that it was “no big deal.” I suffered through sore nipples, poor milk transfer and slow weight gain and no one ever told me the “slightly tight frenulum” might be to blame. Somehow we managed but Miles had to nurse every hour on the hour in order to get enough milk and keep my supply up. I tried to wean him as gently and slowly as possible but when I knew I wanted to try for another baby I just weaned him cold turkey on his 3rd birthday (we were down to about once a week at that point anyway) and I got pregnant with Aminah a few weeks later. Her tongue tie was noticed and clipped right away and we’ve enjoyed a very easy breastfeeding relationship since, with plenty of milk and steady weight gain!
How are you inspired by your breastfeeding experience? I would not be a blogger or activist today if I had not breastfed. It is no exaggeration to say breastfeeding has been life changing for me. It has made me a more patient, better mother and a crusader to get every woman to be open to the idea of breastfeeding and to support her throughout her journey.
Are there any obstacles you have to overcome during your breastfeeding experience? Besides the two tongue ties, the toughest thing for me has been working. I’m one of those women who just doesn’t let down easily for a pump and I have found it incredibly difficult to maintain a supply while working out of the home full-time.
How do you think being a Mother of Color effects your breastfeeding experience? Definitely some health care workers I’ve encountered have been surprised that I was breastfeeding because I am a black woman. I’ve also gotten the benefit of being able to be a role model of sorts for other women of color who breastfeed. I get a lot of emails from women who have no support for breastfeeding in their real, day-to-day lives and are so grateful to know there is another mother out there who does things the way they do.
What are some of the ways you inspire other mothers to breastfeed and get the word of encouragement out in the community? Between my blog and Twitter feed (@Blacktating) I try to encourage and support women in our community to breastfeed. In addition I make myself available to friends and family members and their friends and family members. People have come to think of me as someone with breastfeeding knowledge and will contact me if they have questions, which is very cool!
Feel free to share anything else about your breastfeeding experience and maternal story of growth.
I wish every woman could experience breastfeeding as total bliss, bonding and love. Yes, it can be tough at the beginning, but everything you’ve been through in your pregnancy, labor and delivery to get that baby wasn't easy either. The idea that you can build and grow a perfect little person with your body and then feed and nurture her with your breasts is absolutely awesome and amazing.
Elita Kalma is the mom to Miles, a preschooler, and newborn baby girl Aminah. She is a librarian by day and a lactivist all of the time. She started her blog, Blacktating, in 2008 as a side project while on maternity leave and it is now her third baby. When she's not reading, writing and tweeting about breastfeeding, Elita enjoys celebrity gossip, cooking, wine and traveling.