August is National Breastfeeding Month, a month dedicated to working toward improving the nation’s health by protecting, promoting, and supporting breastfeeding. How awesome is that? You probably saw various blog posts and campaigns on your social media feed during World Breastfeeding Week (August 1-7). And as August comes to a close, Black Breastfeeding Week (August 25-31) will bring attention to unique challenges Black women face when they breastfeed.
There are many reasons why Black Breastfeeding Week is important.
But the most significant reason is the high black infant mortality rate. Did you know that Black babies are dying at twice–and sometimes three times–the rate of White babies? There’s a reason you may not know. That heartbreaking racial disparity, though very real, has been kept hidden for over 40 years.
The good news is that it is coming to light–at least as far as mainstream media is concerned. People are talking about it and Black women are being empowered and resourced to breastfeed… because, sadly, there is a direct correlation between poor breastfeeding outcomes and infant mortality rates. Some of the challenges Black mothers face include a lack of diversity in the lactation field and other unique cultural barriers. Kimberly Seals Allers wrote an impactful and informative piece that expands on some of these challenges and concerns that I highly recommend reading.
There are also various resources and local groups that provide ongoing support. Here are a few:
Chocolate Milk: The Documentary Series
Black Women Do Breastfeed
National Association of Professional and Peer Lactation Supporters of Color
Black Mothers’ Breastfeeding Association
La Leche League of Miami-Dade County
Healthy Start Coalition of Miami-Dade
Florida Breastfeeding Coalition
- La Leche League meetings are virtual, free of charge, and take place on Wednesday evenings
- The Breastfeeding Helpline offers support from trained counselors in both English and Spanish
- Miami-Dade WIC Breastfeeding Programs & Services provides breastfeeding support to WIC clients at no cost
- The Gathering Place provides support groups, classes, workshops, and breast pump rental
- Support groups at local hospitals
Accessibility to breastfeeding education and support makes a world of difference for moms and babies everywhere. When I look back at my own breastfeeding journeys, I am incredibly grateful for the support and resources that were afforded to me. The support of my husband and family members enabled me to meet my goals. And the examples I saw of my doula and other mom friends set me up to succeed. Motherhood is a sisterhood. Let’s encourage and advocate for one another, and for all of our children.
Did you breastfeed your baby? What made the difference in your journey? Tell us about your experience below. And if you have information about any local Black Breastfeeding Week events, resources, support, etc. please let us know that as well!