Recently, I came across a photo on Facebook of a mom breastfeeding her baby at a wedding. It immediately caught my eye. The mom in the photo looks strong, proud, glowing, and absolutely beautiful in her wedding dress, with her sweet baby happily nursing in her arms.
And I wasn’t the only one who was touched by it.
The photo, shared by the Facebook page Black Women Do Breastfeed, has been shared over 4K times since it was first posted on January 8, gained thousands of comments, and earned over 27K likes. And it’s easy to see why. There have been lots of breastfeeding photos that have made the rounds over the past few months — each special in their own way — but the particular words and story that accompany this photo are what make it stand out from the rest.
“I would like to share my photo on your page of me breastfeeding my son on my wedding day,” wrote Anecia Wright, mom of 4-month-old Jayce, “This picture is very important to me because at the age of 22 so many people doubted me and said I would give up on breastfeeding and here I am 4 months later and still going strong.”
The dedicated nursing mom goes on to explain that she chose the specific wedding dress she wore just so she’d be able to nurse her boy whenever he needed throughout her wedding night. She then expressed the pride she has in breastfeeding her son, hoping to encourage other mothers to breastfeed, whatever challenges they might face.
“I just want to share with women that no matter who doubts you or who turns their noses up to breastfeeding that it can be done,” she continued, “No one should make them feel embarrassed about feeding their child in the most natural way. #bwdbf #wedothis”
The hashtags at the end of her post refer to the mission of the Black Women Do Breastfeed page, which seeks to normalize breastfeeding among black women by sharing their real-life photos and stories.
Although the numbers are on the rise, historically, breastfeeding rates among black women have significantly lagged behind other minority groups in America, and the aim of Black Women Do Breastfeed is to change that by posting inspiring photos just like Wright’s.
“Our breastfeeding stories and images are not easy to find online,” the Black Women Do Breastfeed website explains, “In fact, it would seem as if the story of modern black American women breastfeeding is limited. This blog seeks to highlight the many black mothers in the United States (and beyond) who do indeed breastfeed their children. Despite the statistics that show a despairing picture of breastfeeding among black mothers in the United States, there are many of us who have breastfed, are breastfeeding, and will breastfeed our children.”
Babble caught up Anecia Wright to find out more about what sharing her photos has meant to her. Wright shares that she had a very difficult time breastfeeding her son in the early days of his life, and that is exactly why she takes so much pride is getting this far with breastfeeding.
Wright broke her foot when she was 27 weeks pregnant, which required surgery. She was forced to use crutches and a scooter to get around for the rest of her pregnancy. Then, Jayce was born via emergency C-section because his umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck twice.
Although baby Jayce latched on immediately at birth, Wright’s milk was slow to come in, and her baby lost a significant amount of weight.
“They told me my son had to be hospitalized because my milk didn’t fully come in,” Wright shares, “Those words crushed my whole entire world. My heart shattered. I had been starving my son this whole time!”
For the next two days, Wright had to supplement with formula and “power pump” to increase her supply. All the hard work paid off, though, and she and Jayce have been going strong ever since.
“This is why breastfeeding is SO important to me,” Wright tells Babble, “Because my whole pregnancy was a struggle and my dream of breastfeeding was almost ruined.”
Wright also expressed to Babble what breastfeeding means to her as a black woman, and the significance of spreading positive stories like hers within the black community:
“Breastfeeding as a black woman is a huge deal,” Wright explained, “In the old days, black women were forced to nurse their master’s children. So because of this reason a lot of older black women consider breastfeeding a disgrace! So many black women are stuck in this idea and this concept!”
Although Wright has unfortunately received some judgmental comments on the post, she says she’s floored by the reassuring reaction her photo has been getting, and is thrilled that it seems to be having an impact on others.
“I love reading the positive comments or mothers who said I inspired them to keep nursing or moms who said that I am inspiration,” she says. “That to me, makes me feel like it was worth me sharing my photo. My goal was to inspire other moms and to simply get the message out that breastfeeding is normal.”