Breastfeeding, the original food, has been gaining in popularity over the past decade with science continuing to support the benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and child. Breast-fed infants have decreased rates of some common childhood infections and decreased rates of childhood obesity. Moms who breast-feed have decreased rates of high blood pressure, diabetes and breast and ovarian cancers.
But for many women, it is not as easy as simply choosing to breastfeed. Breastfeeding can be a difficult journey for mothers of all backgrounds. Learning how to successfully latch your baby takes practice, and maintaining milk supply is a challenge for many mothers. Breastfeeding moms also have to deal with breastfeeding through their children’s teething, their own bodily changes and navigating family and outside work responsibilities. Breastfeeding takes patience and dedication, even at the best of times.
Breastfeeding may seem like a no-brainer for some, but the breastfeeding playing field is not a level one. It’s challenging for many women. In some communities of color, especially Black communities, breastfeeding is much less common. About 69.4% of Black women attempt breastfeeding after giving birth, compared to 83.2% of women overall. Black women also have the shortest breastfeeding duration of all women (about 6.5 weeks). At 6 months, about 44% of Black women are still breastfeeding compared to 57% of women overall.
This week, August 25-31 marks Black Breastfeeding Week dedicated to celebrate and support moms in their nursing journey.
So, what resources can Black women turn to?
-Talk with your doctor during your pregnancy about your desire to breastfeed. Ask what resources are provided by your hospital, insurer and employer to help you start and maintain lactation.
-Does your hospital have lactation consultants trained to help mothers successfully breastfeed. They walk you through latching your baby correctly and how to know if your baby is getting enough to eat during feedings.
-Support groups are a great resource for breastfeeding mothers, as having a supportive community is extremely beneficial to successful breastfeeding. A simple google search can supply support groups online and in your area.
–blackmothersbreastfeeding.org provides virtual information sessions, support groups, tips for increasing milk supply, and other resources for Black breastfeeding mothers.
-Most insurance companies offer low or no cost breast pumps. Some hospitals and governmental assistance programs like WIC, may rent pumps.
-Your healthcare provider can provide breastfeeding advice and resources. We at Westside OB/GYN are always happy to answer questions about breastfeeding and lactation. Call 954-473-2011 to request an appointment.
For more information on breastfeeding, check out my Breastfeeding FAQs!