Black Breastfeeding Week Guest Post

Hi! My name is Emerald Rice and I am a Breastfeeding Peer Counselor/Lactation Educator for Lincoln Community Health Center in Durham, NC. I am a mother of 3 and currently expecting. I received my Bachelors degree in Social Work and Masters degree in Counseling, but after facing many challenges breastfeeding my first, I decided to dedicate independent research and my future career path to breastfeeding and helping other moms. I exclusively pumped for one year for my first baby and although it had its challenges, the knowledge and empathy I gained for other mothers was worth it. My second nursed for over 2 years and my third weaned when he was 3 years old. I was the first in my family to breastfeed in 3 generations, so the concept was foreign to me and my support people had a difficult time as well. I knew that I wanted to give my baby the best, and that intrinsic motivation helped me to reach my goal. Through my breastfeeding journey, I realized that my lack of family and community support left me with a deflated feeling of self-confidence. Most of the time we're doing everything right, we just aren't receiving confirmation. My goal is to not only empower mothers, but to also extend knowledge to their support people in order to help them feel more confident and alleviate the stresses of motherhood. Being a Breastfeeding Peer Counselor for nearly three years, I have encountered mothers that never saw breastfeeding as an option for feeding their babies. Those mothers, through support and encouragement, are now my moms that are exclusively breastfeeding for well over one year! I am seeing a shift in the way breastfeeding is viewed by our community and for our community,and it's all because of education and normalizing breastfeeding. I am slated to become an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) in 2018 and I am so eager to show women that look like me that we are present in the lactation community and that we nurse our babies!