February is Black History Month, and we are celebrating by raising awareness for the breastfeeding groups that advocate and support Black moms.
African American women across the income spectrum and from all walks of life die from preventable pregnancy-related complications at two to three times the rate of non-Hispanic white women. The death rate for Black infants is twice that of infants born to non-Hispanic white mothers. Motherhood has its challenges for everyone, but Black moms face tremendous obstacles.
Breastfeeding is not only potentially life-saving for babies, but it confers significant benefits for moms. Many Black mothers are not aware of how important breastfeeding is, a shocking reality seen in data that shows African American mothers initiating and maintaining lactation at much lower levels than non-Hispanic white moms. Healthcare professionals blame a lack of access to resources on breastfeeding, coupled with inflexible work hours and shorter (if any) maternity leaves. And because Black moms may not have spent time around breastfeeding moms or had sisters/aunts who nursed their children, there can be a real lack of role models.
Breastfeeding benefits for the baby include stronger immune systems, less diarrhea, better vision, and lower rates of infant mortality. Mothers benefit from lower rates of postpartum depression, a stronger bond with the baby, faster weight loss after birth, production of stress-relieving hormones, and even lower rates of breast cancer later in life. Black breastfeeding advocacy groups aim to provide role models, information, support, and advocacy.
Here are some resources and groups advocating for Black breastfeeding:
Mocha Moms provides support for women of color throughout motherhood, and is a national advocate for breastfeeding, sisterhood, and support. Mocha Moms has chapters you can join across the country as well as online community groups.
Black Women Do Breastfeed is a blog that allows women to write and share stories about their breastfeeding experiences, letting new mothers know they are not alone. They provide a vast library of resources on all aspects of breastfeeding, from the best pumps to lists of lactation specialists.
NAPPLSC focuses on cultivating "a community of diverse professional and peer lactation supporters to transform communities of color through policy, breastfeeding, and skilled lactation care." Their executive board is composed of board-certified lactation specialists that hold conferences to help inform and raise awareness for breastfeeding and lactation care.
ROSE has a mission to strengthen and support families with mentoring, training, support, outreach, education, and change in legislation and health policies. They are working towards bringing the percentage of Black babies breastfeed after birth in America to 82 percent.
Soul Food for Your Baby is a community program that aims to improve black breastfeeding by providing new mothers with culturally competent media and educational and community outreach. This program goes beyond breastfeeding and has classes on childhood development and parent support groups.
AABN is a nonprofit focused on improving the health of mother and child, and championing breastfeeding equity by advocating for policy change. They accomplish their mission through partnering with community-centered and culturally-tailored health education and support services.
BMBFA’s goal is to have a national impact in reducing racial disparities in breastfeeding. By providing a network for Black families through service, education, and advocacy, BMBFA encourages mothers and strengthens multi-generational breastfeeding support.
This Black History month, provide the Black mothers in your life with the support, community, and resources they need for the health and happiness of mother and baby.
Eliminating racial disparities in maternal and infant mortality requires strategies that promote the overall health and well-being of families of color. The lives and health of Black mothers and infants depend on it.