The Need for Black Breastfeeding Week

August 26, 2017

The Need for Black Breastfeeding Week

The Need for Black Breastfeeding Week

Author: Diamond Redden

This is the start of Black Breastfeeding Week 2017! Live, Love, Latch! is a National Breastfeeding Month celebration presented by La Leche League USA and hosted by LLL Groups throughout the country. The last week of August is traditionally Black Breastfeeding Week. It is a week to raise awareness and provide a positive social media image to black caregivers who historically have a lower percentage of breastfeeding. It's also an entire week to celebrate all the unique obstacles black caregivers over come, all the unique hardships black caregivers fight through to feed their baby!

 

Why the Need for Black Breastfeeding Week?

A study published by the National Instuites of Health and the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2016 says, Black caregivers were 17% percent less likely to breastfeed than white caregivers and the gap grows depending on duration of breastfeeding relationship. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), "Black infants consistently had the lowest rates of breastfeeding initiation and duration across all study years. Black mothers need more, targeted support to start and continue breastfeeding." 

Black Breastfeeding Week 

In a study published by the National Institute of Health in 2015, one of the highest rated suggestions to improve breastfeeding rates among Black caregivers was, "a social marketing campaign that depicts positive images of African American mothers breastfeeding". Thus, Black Breastfeeding Week was created to fight the racial disparities in breastfeeding statistics, and increase the rate of breastfeeding among Black caregivers. 

According to a 2017 article published by the American Public Health Association there has been progress made in reducing the Black-White infant mortality gap, but the most important take away is: Black babies are STILL dying at TWICE the rate of White babies. According to the CDC, if black caregivers were to breastfeed more that statistic would decrease by 50%. 

 

What Barriers Do Black Caregivers Face?

Black caregivers are at a higher rate of getting diet related illness due to food deserts. In most predominantly black areas there are food deserts. A food desert is a community in which healthy food options are scarce. There is a McDonalds on every corner but 1 store in a 20 mile radius that sells decent fruit and vegetables.

There is a lack of diversity in the lactation field due to the astronomical costs and time investment invovled in acquiring certifications and training. Scholarships and grants are extremely rare, and very hard to come by. 

Another barrier is the stigma of wet nursing during slavery. During slavery Black caregivers were made to feed their slave masters baby and feed their own baby scraps. The pain and generational trauma caused decreased amounts of parents who wished to breastfeed.

 Black Breastfeeding Week is a Success!

With my oldest daughter I struggled with breastfeeding. I knew it was what I wanted, and my mom and my grandmother assured me it could be done. However, I didn't know people my age could successfully breastfeed. It was painful. All anyone would say would me was to try harder. I went to a La Leche meeting, but I felt out of place. I was young, black and inexperienced. They were all telling me the same thing; just keep going. I suffered through it, and ended up stopping at 5 months.

With my 2nd daughter I was determined to try, and keep going. Very randomly, a lady (like me young and black) told me my latch was wrong. LIFE SAVER!!! No more pain, and my entire outlook changed. I breastfed my daughter for 5 years.

In 2008, I was told about black breastfeeding week, and was very excited to attend my first event. When I went I wanted to cry. There were women JUST LIKE ME, and who even looked like me! BREASTFEEDING! Openly! Covered! Everything! It was the first time I didn't cower in a corner to breastfeed.

Thanks to the support I received and my amazing support system, I am still tandem nursing my 4 year old and my 7 month old. I am very proud to say, I have breastfed 4 babies. Two of them to at least 3 years old. I am now working to be that same support system for my own community through World on My shoulders and Carry On. While not a lactation consultant, I can inspire, and encourage my fellow Black caregivers to breastfeed. We can do this! I have helped 10+ families and I am PROUD to be apart of changing dynamic of black breastfeeding.

 

ACTION PLAN Here's How You Can Support Black Breastfeeding Week:

BLACK PERSON: 

Attend a Black Breastfeeding Week event. Please click here to find an event near you!

This week there will be NUMEROUS amounts of black and brown caregivers breastfeeding and being celebrated through out your social media feed. Please take a moment to encourage, empower and celebrate them. Let them know they are beautiful and they HAVE this!

NON-BLACK PERSON:

Donate an educational scholarship, travel expenses, book fees, etc that will directly benefit a soon-to-be birth worker of color. Here is a great option we found: The Grand Challenge

NON-BLACK BIRTH WORKER:

Offer to mentor an up and coming birth worker of color. Your connection could be their very first stepping stone to a career devoted to Black caregivers. 

Offer a free or reduced price and or scholarship for birthing, breastfeeding, babywearing, etc classes that you or your store may offer to expectant or breastfeeding caregivers of color. 

 

Smitten with Wovens Blog Diamond Redden

Diamond is amazing asset to the natural parenting community by not only creating The Babywearers Of Newark but also by assisting with World on My Shoulders and Attached. Diamond is a writer, crafter, and planner. Her days are filled with taking silly images of her daughter, scrolling Facebook and browsing target. She can be found on instagram @blackmagicalmermaid