Sharing your story as a mother can not only seem hugely therapeutic but it can also support others who are looking for people that they can relate too. I have grown friendships with social media followers who have seen my honesty and be impelled to dm me to say thank you and share their experiences too. It is one of my favourite things about platforms like Instagram. But what happens when you can’t find that those people, in the case of Chaneen Saliee she saw the lack of black mothers who were breastfeeding so decided to share her journey and as a result was voted Number 1 spot on Mother & Baby’s The Mum List 2020.
Hi Charleen, Welcome to No Mum Is An Island. I am a great believer that no mum or dad should have to do everything themselves, we can’t possibly know it all, and we need all the support we can get, there is a wealth of information out there to help us upgrade our parenting experience, to make our lives easier and this website is a hub for just that! We love that you took that feeling of being alone as a new mother and turned it into a way of connecting and inspiring others.
You are a real advocate for breastfeeding can you tell me what inspired you to share your journey?
What inspired me most to show my breastfeeding journey it was just the fact that I don’t really see many people breastfeeding many black women breastfeeding and I feel that so I myself to become the representation of that.
Why do you think it is that so few black mothers share their breastfeeding images and stories?
I think many black mothers choose to not to share their breastfeeding journeys because it is uncomfortable. There’s a whole stigma around the idea of breasts and therefore breastfeeding. If women’s bodies weren’t sexualised then there would be no problem with breastfeeding. The black woman’s body is the most sexualised of all. So there is no wonder why so few black women chose not to share this intimate act.
We would love to know more about your line of affordable breastfeeding clothes Chic and Discreet how did that evolve?
I started Chic and Discreet breastfeeding wear because breastfeeding can be tricky and a little bit scary for new mums. New mothers often want extra support and privacy as they develop their confidence to breastfeed freely. I really struggled with breastfeeding in the early days, I felt awkward with positioning, not showing my belly and finding something breastfeeding friendly that didn’t expose my whole boob. It was a real difficult time and so I took to learning how to sew and then making my own clothes. Other women saw my designs and realised that there was nothing like them, with their built in nursing covers, and so asked me to make them some too. I love it!
Your book Solidarity is a collection of poetry and prose for women to know they are not alone in the emotions and experiences they face after becoming a mother – can you tell us more?
Solidarity: poetry and prose; a collection of 42 poems and prose which I believe closely explores the invisible realities of motherhood. The parts of motherhood that women don’t (know how to) talk about. It also shines a light on the simplicity of motherhood and how absolute joy could be had in those moments of normalcy.
Solidarity follows suit with my approach to supporting and empowering other women and mothers with a dose of audacious reality. It encourages new mothers to open up difficult conversations, about how they are feeling, with loved ones. Solidarity resets perspectives on society’s norms, smashes it up with beauty and motivates women to explore their own ideas about parenting.
With it I hope to help raise awareness about the normality of fluctuating emotions and the diversity of experiences that mothers may face – thus, making women everywhere feel more confident and empowered to talk about how they are feeling and potentially, save lives.
What advice would you give to other mothers who want to share their personal journeys on blogs or social media platforms like Instagram?
Just do it! Honestly, it’s the most liberating thing to just be you and to have people connect with that.
There’s a whole host of support you will find and it is just an incredible experience.
And the best part is, you will be helping to shine the light on what real, authentic motherhood really looks like. That will inspire so much change and growth.
Read more from Chaneen at her website HERE follow her on follow on Instagram HERE and fall in love with Chic and Discreet collection HERE ( I just bought a dress and my child is 7 so not just for breast feeding mothers) and follow on Instagram HERE