Did you know that Beyonce and I have something in common? I mean something other than an amazing body, phenomenal singing voice, and an eye for great looks. Both of us nurse our babies in public!
Me and Bey*
Yes, that’s right: Ms. Beyonce was spotted nursing Blue Ivy while having brunch at a New York City restaurant on Saturday! This sighting confirms the rumors that Bey is breastfeeding. No one took a photo of the actual act (thank goodness), but it’s surprising in a good way that someone as private as Beyonce nurses in public. She didn’t confirm her marriage to Jay-Z for seven months after it happened!
I imagine a few people reading this are thinking, “Okay, so what? Another celebrity mom breastfeeding.” There’s a little bit more to it than just that. You see, the number of African American mothers that breastfeed is significantly lower than other races. A 2010 CDC phone survey showed that 54.4% of African American mothers attempted to breastfeed, compared to 74.3% of white mothers, and 80.4% of Hispanic mothers (source).
Why such a disparity? We could speculate all day about the reasons why it is so low. I imagine that not having adequate support during those first few days plays a role in it. California hospitals reported breastfeeding initiation rates for African American women to be about 78%, and the exclusive breastfeeding rate for was 40%. WHO Baby Friendly hospitals in CA report their exclusive breastfeeding rate for African American women to be 60% (source)!
African American women also go back to work sooner than Caucasian women, and may work in places that do not support breastfeeding (source). The Break Time for Nursing Mothers Act under the FLSA was signed into law less than 2 years ago. It may be too soon to see if this has made a difference in overall breastfeeding rates. As a working pumping mom, I can say that having an employer that supports your decision to breastfeed makes a huge difference. Sadly there is no real enforcement of this law, and until there is we will probably hear more stories like Donnicia Venters’.
My first time nursing E in a restaurant was during an off peak time for a very late lunch. I could never imagine my first time being during a busy Saturday brunch! Way to go Beyonce! Covered, uncovered, somewhere in between… who cares? You may have just given confidence to a mom who was unsure about breastfeeding her baby in public. Keep nursing your baby girl, paparazzi be damned. Oh, and call me – I still need to see the baby!