Boobies Go Bye-Bye | Cyana Riley & Nikki Osei-Barrett
Hey, everyone, thanks for tuning into this episode of MomTalks with Christa. I'm your host, Christa. I'm so happy you're here and joining me for this episode and today I have a very special episode it actually started as an Instagram Live. We do this from time to time and there's so much fun. There's definitely a lot more pressure with it being live and having a live audience but I really enjoy it. It's great to connect and have seen live comments coming through so that's always a lot of fun. So today, I'm going to replay one from August of this year, it was actually during Black breastfeeding week and I spoke with Sienna and Nikki who are co-authors of a book boobies go bye bye and if you are thinking about weaning soon, or just kind of have it on your mind in the near future, this is the episode for you. They share tips that they use with their own kids on how to wean and talk all about. They're awesome and it's so cute. You guys have to check out their book movies go bye bye. It's all about the story of Nikki and her daughter Faye and basically, just going through the process of telling her daughter that we're no longer going to be breastfeeding and she shares some really awesome tips for anyone that is in that point. And then it being black breastfeeding week, when this initially came out, we talked all about the importance of black breastfeeding week and they shared some important statistics and how you can be involved in helping spread awareness. So, without further ado, I want to share this episode but wait really quick. Don't go anywhere yet. We are introducing our new segment Mom Tales of the Week. I'm so excited for this every single week, we're gonna be posting questions on Instagram in our Facebook group, having you guys share some of your funny, interesting, awesome, cool stories that happened to you with some different prompts. So, we got some really good ones for you today so hang around for the end of the episode and we'll be sharing some of your mom tales can't wait. So, without further ado, here's my interview with Cyana and Nikki.
Christa: Thanks for coming, guys. I'm so excited to talk to you guys about your book and of course about the importance of black breastfeeding week because it just started yesterday and I'm just so excited. So just to get started, can you guys just tell us a little bit about each of you and we'll kind of go from there.
Nikki: Yeah. Well, thank you for having me. Thank you for having us. My name is Nikki I live in the DMV area. That's DC, Maryland and Virginia. I'm a wife. I'm a mom of three. Married to my high school sweetheart. I am a publicist, I own a PR agency. I'll say PR but I also co-founded district motherhood which is the DMVs premier 501 C three for moms of color. I'm also the co-founder of the monoprints which is a full-scale conference for moms of color and moms flying from all over the nation to come to DC for a full day of black mom magic is lit. It's amazing. And I most recently co-author booties go bye bye with Cyana so, in a nutshell.
Cyana: Hi, my name is Cyana Riley. I'm born and raised in Washington, DC currently living in Maryland. I'm a wife, I'm a mom to my son hunters, five and Tegan, just turned two. I am a children's book author. So, I published my first children's book NASA different in June of 2020 and now, Nikki and I have written this book together so yeah.
Christa: Awesome. I'm so excited for this. So yes, you guys just wrote the book Ruby's Go, Bye Bye and we're going to talk all about the details and where everyone can get the book very shortly. But first, as a way to spread awareness and education, for those that don't know, let's talk about some important statistics when it comes to breastfeeding in the black community. Some just to make others aware and how we can help basically.
Nikki: Yeah, so black breastfeeding week kicked off yesterday. It was founded by three amazing women Kimberly Sellars, Alors Kidada Green, and Annika a yoga and they launched it in 2012. To raise awareness about black breastfeeding statistic, according to the CDC, 85% of white women breastfeed in comparison to 69% of black mothers and that could possibly be because of a lack of visibility, a lack of representation. So, during Black breastfeeding week, it's encouraged for black moms that are breastfeeding to be visible, to take pictures, to talk about their journeys as a way to encourage other moms to breastfeed. I shared this yesterday that NPR, they say that 66% of black infant are breastfed in comparison to 82% of white enlightened infants. And that gap tends to widen as the kids get older because black moms typically don't. They're not extended breastfeeding. So those are just a few of the things that are highlighted this week. Another part of black breastfeeding week that's important is to encourage them to be more black lactation consultants, more ibclcs. And I just found out this statistic, the most common ethnicity in lactation consultants is white and they account for white woman to converse 70.5% of all lactation consultants, comparatively, there are 10.8, Black or African American, and lactation consultant consultants and 8.6, Hispanic, or Latino, and lactation consultants. So it's really important for us to increase the amount of LCSW that we have in the industry too and that's not to say that white lactation consultants don't encourage black mothers to breastfeed, but there are statistics that show that black women are given a formula or told to use formula far more than, you know, white women. So, if there are more black lactation consultants, we feel like those statistics will also decrease.
Cyana: I believe the stats and like nonblack women are offered formula nine times more than their counterparts and black women are the least percentage of women who breastfeed overall. So, I had the opportunity like I didn't, I had the resources, thankfully, to where I was able to, I was the first-generation breastfeeding in my family. So luckily, I had the resources where I was able to choose breastfeeding, but I know a lot of black women don't have that resource and I think that also contributes to the disparities. Think about everything that you need, like you need to have a job where you're able to nurse or you're able to pump in not all , all black women don't have that. That opportunity.
Christa: Yeah, I think like the education and definitely like last words, like especially like a new monster, see a young mom, that's gonna be like, I'm gonna listen to this nurse here, that's gonna tell me and just assume that they know. Yeah, you know, without even sometimes without knowing to even ask.
Cyana: And if you come from a family who your mom didn't breastfeed, or that's what that was my experience, if you're coming from a family, who your mom didn't breastfeed, and you're not given an option, you're automatically just gonna go with whatever the doctors say.
Nikki: Exactly. That's why representation is so important, like having black nurses, having black doulas, having black lactation consultants, and then even just having a week like black breastfeeding week where women are sharing imagery in their stories on a platform. And I'll just say, Instagram, although we are seeing this imagery everywhere, but I feel like Instagram is where I see it most frequently. This wasn't an app, this wasn't a thing 20 years ago, this really wasn't even a thing 10 years ago. So now you have younger women, you have young moms, moms to be on this platform seeing black women breastfeed freely. And it's like, okay, well, that made these see what this is all about. Do my research and make a decision as to whether I want to pursue this myself or not.
Christa: Absolutely. Yeah, I think there's definitely, there can be some downsides to social media. But that is one of the big things where there's so much education out there at our fingertips and more representation than we've seen in the past which is amazing. And there's a lot of work still to be done by I think it's cool that we have this platform where we can continue to talk about it and educate others.
Nikki: I agree. I feel like black breastfeeding week. It's so amazing. We need a black breastfeeding month, black breastfeeding year, but so much takes place this week. And I love seeing all the different demonstrations. So just kudos to the three women that founded this week.
Christa: And you guys also talk a little bit about how in the black community extended breastfeeding is considered very taboo. So, it's good to talk a little bit more about that.
Cyana: Well, I think like we say, so the status anyway, breastfeeding in general is not as popular in the black community. So, I think when you start to talk about extended breastfeeding, which is beyond most women breastfeed six months to a year when you go beyond that, I think our black community just doesn't, hasn't embraced it. It's not normal so I think that we are trying to change the narrative on that and making it normal is very much normal to breastfeed your child beyond a year.
Nikki: Mm hmm. And it's so interesting to me, like, I don't know who said 12 months was the cut off and I don't know why there is so much judgment that comes and the judgment, it doesn't come from like external forces. It doesn't come from people that you don't know it. As a couple of strangers, you might be breastfeeding at a park and a stranger sees you with a toddler on your lap and they may look at you sideways, but they're not gonna say anything to you. It's your close friends and family that will acknowledge this and say, oh, why you still mentioned that baby, that baby has teeth? That baby a cop? And it's just like, first of all, it's a personal decision. Second of all, what is it about me breastfeeding past 12 months that makes you uncomfortable? so I think having these conversations and acknowledging the fact that there's still actually nutritional benefits to breast milk past 12 months, the milk, it changes as your baby gets older, I've had someone say, the baby doesn't need the breast milk, and the milk isn't doing anything for your baby anymore at this point. Which is not true so there's some education that comes into play there and just having these conversations and just letting people know, like, oh, yeah, I'm gonna breastfeed my baby until I'm done, or until he or she is done and it's really not any of your business.
Christa: Yeah, it goes back to that, like judgment, where it's like every family is completely different. And so, from you, from the outside to look at me and tell me, I'm doing something wrong. Like, you don't know what I've been through with this journey, and what my baby needs, where my child needs.
Cyana: Body matters. Why are people so concerned with why other women continue to breastfeed their children beyond the period that the doctors say is normal? Like, I don't understand that.
Nikki: I'm not even gonna like, if my mom is watching, don't be mad at me. But so, I was, I know, stay for 22 months. And I remember my mom Face Timing me one day, and I don't know, maybe famous, like 20 months old. And literally, we hopped on FaceTime, and I was nursing Faye and she called I was like, look at Nikki, she's still breastfeeding this girl. And I'm like, mom, first of all, hello, hi. Like, you didn't even greet me, the first thing you did was acknowledge what I was doing, and then cause someone to look like as if it was a spectacle. Mind you. I'm from Ghana. So, I mean, back home, women breastfeed 234 years so I don't even know why she felt the need to acknowledge that, but that those are the kinds of things that she may deal with as a mom that isn't extended breastfeeding, and it shouldn't be that way.
Cyana: I had a very similar situation with my mother as well, mother's asking me when I was on it. So, it'd be your own family?
Christa: Yeah, I mean, I know we have like, we have a Facebook group and I feel like a lot of the posts I see the most it's close family, it's close friends that they feel the most judged by, or most of the negative comments, because I think they watch times they think like, oh, because we're family, I can say that.
Nikki: Yeah, exactly. They feel most comfortable. And I don't even think that they're doing it maliciously. But like you said, they feel the most comfortable because they are close friends, they are close family. So, they feel like they can express their opinion about how you might think your child when you can keep that to yourself.
Cyana: When it boils down to it. I think it's just a lack of knowledge. I think, ultimately, it's just a lack of knowledge. People don't understand people haven't taken the time to understand why people decide to breastfeed for longer than a year. So, they just they're not aware.
Christa: Definitely, definitely hear that a lot. It's that it's an insecurity with either themselves, or they were told by someone like, Oh, that's not good and so then they kind of push it off into someone else. Yeah. Or you talk a little bit about gentle weaning and that's another thing that's rarely discussed. So, I'm so curious to hear more about what this is and how people can use it.
Nikki: Okay, so gentle weaning is a term that I learned when I was weaning Faye, and I remember again, telling a friend and they were like girl, what is gentle weaning, and I'm pretty much it's like self-led weaning, allowing the baby to wean themselves off or finding a way to respectfully and the nursing journey. I always think, try to compare to myself as an adult, if there was something that I really loved, and I indulged in every day, I enjoyed every day. And then one day, someone just took it from me, like, why not be so hurt and so devastated and so that was my thought behind weaning Faye like, she loves her boobies, I can't just one day, like you can't have them anymore. So with gentle weaning, you find an easier way to transition them slowly from the breast, whether it's removing one feeding a day, the evening feeding or the daytime feeding, and you can work with a lactation consultant on different tips and tricks and tools that you can use, but it's slowly ending the breastfeeding journey rather than just abruptly cutting the baby off.
Cyana: Yeah, and then just to add on other and also doing things such as like, kind of not having your boobs as accessible, maybe covering up a little bit more so that works for me like not having a shirt where my daughter could just lift it up if I had wanna dress she can't get to it as easy so then she might not be as interested because she just made out to do it. So that's what, that was a part of gentle weaning that I took on what I'm waiting to.
Christa: Awesome. Yeah, that's a great explanation of it. Like, you wouldn't want something just taken away from you. So, we want to allow them to have a little bit control or when they kind of want to slowly wean on their own a little bit.
Nikki: And we'll talk about it in the book but even just preparing them for the transition. And that's kind of how movies go bye bye came to be but like talking to your baby and just letting them know, mommy's movies are broken, or mommy's movies are going bye bye just having a conversation, preparing them mentally for the transition rather than just abruptly doing so.
Cyana: Yeah, like gradually leading up to and I think it took weeks, we started talking about weaning months before we actually weaned and gradually we slowly cut down to not doing it all. So yeah.
Christa: Awesome. Yeah. So, I think that is what the perfect segue into your guys’ book movies go bye bye and it's the real-life story of your daughter Faye, and the weaning process you guys went through. So, talk a little bit tell me about the book. Tell everyone what they can expect in the book and the process and all that fun stuff.
Nikki: Yeah, yeah. So, we're so excited. It's available for pre order. Now we just go bye, bye. And the book came about because I documented my weaning journey back in December and it's funny because all of last year I said, Okay, well phase about to turn 12 months, I'm gonna win. And then I'd be on Instagram like, Oh, she's 15 months. I still haven't weaned Oh, she's 18 months, I still have the wind so that people that are like my IG friends, IG followers, they had seen me going through this process, and not actually beginning the weaning process. But being home during the pandemic. I think Cyana can attest to this, too. I wanted to wait, but then the pandemic came. So, it's like, we were stuck in the house. There's no place to go. You can't just send your kids to mom's house or you know, so it's continued nursing. And then also because there are benefits to breastfeeding, you have immunity protection, all of those things. It's like, okay, well, I'll just keep nursing my baby but towards the end of the year, I was done. I was touched out. I was tired of being abused by say anyone who breastfeed you can you know that breastfed babies are bullies, they are strong, they are aggressive, and they become more aggressive, the older they get. So, I was tired of just being manhandled by my daughter, and I just kind of wanted my body back to. So, in December, I decided, okay, we are not going into 2021 nursing, we're just going to cut this off. So, I talked to my center, my amazing center, and we came up with a plan and it was to leave Faye with her for four days. And this is one of the tips that I actually received from another mom, just asking her how did you win your daughter? And most people said, well, I dropped my daughter off. I dropped my child off for a few days and when they came back, that was it. So, we're still kind of a little rough, but that's what most people did. And I said, Okay, well, we're going to do that too. And she said, Nikki, are you sure if you are ready to win your daughter then that means when you pick her up after these four days, you cannot regress, you cannot go back to breastfeeding her. So I'm like, okay, so I made the decision and then we started to have conversations with Faye just talking to her and saying, mommy's boobies are going bye bye, mommy's boobies are broken, mommy smoke is going away, just having those simple conversations with her and my sister reinforced it, and so did my son, Nick. He's not and he also reinforced it. And then I dropped her off to her sitter and I documented the whole process me, crying me, panicking because I was really, really nervous about the entire thing and when I look back at some of the videos, they do seem a little dramatic but that's how I felt in real time. I was afraid that they would be angry.
Cyana: Yes, that is real life, like going through the stress that you don't think about the stress that you have to go through when you're nursing your child. People always think about the child but it's also very, very emotional on the mom because this is a bond that you've created.
Nikki: Exactly, exactly. So it's breaking the bond, it's coming to terms with me, I'm no longer going to nurse this baby. This chapter of my life is done. Especially because with Faye, she is my last I made sure of that. So, you know, accepting the fact that okay, I'm no longer going to nurse’s Fe going to be upset, how's this transition going to go? She's gonna cry for a few weeks. So, I documented all of this and I got so much feedback from the moms watching saying, I'm going through the same thing, or I'm preparing to wean or my son is four and I'm still nursing because I'm scared to win. So, I documented the entire process when she came back what happened and thankfully, she went a lot easier than I thought. So, some of the things that I did to win of course, I dropped her off for a few days, but I also put band aids over my boobies. I wore body suits. I put a CV on my nipples, you name it, I did it and so, that just to create an aversion but what worked for us was the band aids over my nipple. She came home and she saw them and she was just like, wow, mommy's boobies are broken like, but we had this conversation before so she could make that connection. And she realized that okay, I can't nurse because I don't have access to the nipples anymore because they're broken. So, I said all that to say I documented everything. I got so much feedback from mom saying thank you for sharing. These are great tips. This is amazing. And then one woman, I don't know if she's watching her name was pretty sweet cakes. I absolutely love her. She's a local vendor we worked with, she DM me and said newsflash says, boobies go, bye, bye. It's a book title. Think about it. And I was just like, Wow, it really could be a book title. So, I went to sleep that night and God came to me and was like, you know what, you should write this book document this call Cyana asked her if she wants to co-author it with you. I woke up the next day and it was just also clear everything was painted out, like from the artwork, what I wanted the story to sound like, and I called Cyana said, hey, can you talk to her? And yeah, that's really how all of this came to be. But really, once he brought it up to me, I thought to myself, it makes sense for there to be a resource to use for weaning, because we have we read our children books about everything, the potty training books, manners, shapes, colors, you know, being a little leader, all of these things. What if there was a book, what if there was a resource, a picture book that mom could read to her toddler to explain the weaning process and use it throughout the weaning transition. And so, that's how we got to boobies go bye bye. And then I caught Cyana and so on, Nicky was recording all of this, I was in the process of thinking I was in the same boat like I wanted to when Keegan, but I was afraid we were in the middle of a pandemic, I didn't know where to start, I didn't know how to start my son went himself. So, I didn't have to go through it with him. But this process with my daughter, I knew that I was going to have to initiate it. So, watching Nikki, document her winning experience gave me the courage to and I use some of the tips that she used so it gave me some of the courage to go through with it. We started using the same language we always go bye bye was really helped my daughter because she crashed it and she started saying it as well, which helped her connect the dots, and I did the same thing. We did the band aids over my nipples, and she would check to see the band aids can have access to my nipple, so she would check to see whether the band aids were still there. Because that helped her connect the dots like oh, I can't nurse anymore. There's no there's nothing for me to nurse on. So, then it definitely helped and I think that visual was important for us.
Christa: Oh, that's awesome. I love the story of like, how it just kind of came to be like you weren't necessarily intending on writing a book. But just because you helped so many moms. Like it just shows like this is something that's really needed. And so, in what ways do you think like moms that are watching that are about to the point where they might want to start weaning? How do you think it will kind of help them with the nervousness around it, the stress, maybe he misspoke will help them?
Cyana: Well, I think we hope that this book can be used as a tool to help moms and navigate the process. Not only is a simple language for children to understand where the baby name, but it also addresses how mom will feel. So, I would suggest like reading the book as a mom first to know what to expect, because it's not going to be easy. It's a lot easier than I thought it was right. I still had some pushback, and I had to just keep reiterating like Louise, go bye bye. So, I think it'll prepare you for the process and it'll be used as a tool that you can always revert back to when you need to your child can understand she can see the pictures in the book, so yeah.
Nikki: Is that exactly what Cyana said?
Cyana: Someone in the comments, what is the best age to win? And I honestly, I think you have to take that decision. But I will say that the older are the longer that she nursed the harder it is to wean.
Nikki: Absolutely agree. I again, personal decision, I would suggest doing it before 12 months, between nine and 12 bucks because I think that after 12 months, it's game on like they're toddlers, they're cognitively they're so much smarter. And it's just gonna be harder to you know, Sarah, that ties so well. That's a personal decision. We're so excited for everyone to read the story and so when we decided to write it. Of course, we did our research first just to see if there were other weaning books. I had never seen one but I think it's a really niche subject that you're not going to find unless you're looking for it. So, I've never seen a weaning book in a store like not at a Barnes and Noble attire. I've never seen a weaning book picture book. So when I went on Amazon and I searched for books there were a hand but all of them were pretty dated, or they were written from more of a technical perspective, which is fine, there wasn't a book that I thought would be approachable and relatable and really spoke to this generation of moms. And then also, we noticed that of all the weaning books that were available, none of them were written by black women. And none of them featured Black main characters. And we said, okay, well, then I guess we are supposed to do this, because we are truly, truly filling a void with the story. So I'm excited for everyone to read it, and see just how relatable and modern and fun and like there's a triumphant end of the story, but also the representation of it all.
Cyana: Yeah, which I think will help normalize breastfeeding and extended breastfeeding in our black communities.
Nikki: Exactly, because you can see in the book like, it's me and fan the book, which you can see faking bigger and bigger and bigger. And so, you can see that there's a larger baby in Mama's lap, which shows that she breastfed her baby for longer than 12 months or whatever this is. She's a toddler essentially. So, it's just like subtle ways of acknowledging extended breastfeeding and having those conversations.
Christa: I love that. And I love the artwork in the book. It looks so good.
Nikki: Thank you.
Christa: Did you guys know someone that did the artwork? Or who did the artwork looks so good.
Nikki: Thank you. So, I wanted to work with a black on publishing company. And I did my research and I found Digi publishing. They are a husband and wife duo, I believe that they are based in Texas, I'm probably wrong. They are amazing. They're a one stop shop. So, with the book publishing process, you have options. You can work with a publisher and then work with an illustrator outside of the publisher and publishing company. I chose to do everything in house. And I love that this company offers everything they offer editing with your manuscript in house illustrations, they assist with marketing, all of those things, and then can help you with the final publishing and getting the book come on different platforms like Amazon, etc. So, everything was done in house. I sent them pictures, I sent them inspiration. And honestly, they nailed it. Like it's beyond what I expected, honestly.
Christa: Yeah, it's beautiful. It's beautiful the way they do it. So, tell everyone where they can get the book where they can preorder it. And yeah, I'll just fun details where they can get it.
Cyana: The book can be purchased at the AdventuresofFancyFaYe.com will be available in September on Amazon.
Christa: I will put all the links in the in the notes when I post it to our page. And then of course, where can everyone follow you guys and see more about the journey? Ask you guys any other questions. If you have questions specifically about weaning or anything else really?
Nikki: Yeah, you can follow me at @chocl8fashnpr. And then you can follow our two mom communities. I'm the co-founder district mother here we do a lot of fun events in the DMV and also nonprofit work. And then also the mom friends we have our annual conference in May the week after Mother's Day. So, you can follow my friends district motherhood, chocolate, fashion, PR, and the adventures of fashion fancy Faye. I'm sure you'll tag all of these pages, because that's a lot for people to use at night.
Christa: Awesome. All this was so good. I think just you know, it's an awesome way to kick off black breastfeeding week and just talk about the importance of why we have this week. And how you know other people can help support and spread and educate spread the news, educate any other tips or anything you want people to go away from in regards to supporting black breastfeeding week?
Nikki: Yes, I would definitely say go to the website, the main website, black breastfeeding week.org. And find ways that you can contribute ways that you can donate ways that you can amplify their messaging because they are the reason why reason why Black breastfeeding week is a thing and they are doing such great work. And I think that we are just an extension of what they are doing. So, going to the organization, the same ways that you can assist directly is the best way to start.
Cyana: Yeah, I would just piggyback that and just say to continue to educate yourself because a lot of people I know didn't know that disparities between black women and breastfeeding. So, I think the same educated the more people get educated about it, the more people will know about it and become more normal.
Christa: Awesome, who has great advice and definitely go anyone that's just falling mommy knows best and is not familiar with Nicki or Cyana, please go follow them. Check them out. So awesome talking to you guys today. This is awesome. And definitely go preorder your copy of movie Go Bye. Bye.
Nikki: Thank you so much for having us today. This was so great.
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