Black mothers in the U.S. currently have the lowest breastfeeding rates. However, there are many organizations and passionate individuals working to completely reverse that.
Many factors influence a woman’s decision to begin and continue her breastfeeding journey. Some known factors that seem to hinder Black women include having to go back to work too soon, the negative cultural stigma that some women experience, and a lack of support that new mothers receive during and after the pregnancy.
With the energy, resources and advocacy from breastfeeding groups, the tide of breastfeeding Black mothers is rising.
RootMama would like to acknowledge and commend these top 8 Black breastfeeding advocacy groups for the great work that they are doing to support, promote and protect Black breastfeeding.
1. Black Mothers Breastfeeding Association
The Black Mothers Breastfeeding Association’s mission is to reduce racial inequalities in breastfeeding support for Black families through direct service, education, and advocacy. BMBFA envisions positive cultural sentiments about breastfeeding, multi-generational breastfeeding support and encouragement within black families and neighborhoods.
Based in Detroit, MI, BMBFA’s objective is to provide education, valuable resources and ongoing support to black families and public/private agencies that service these families. They offer free childbirth education classes, group parenting classes, Black Mothers Breastfeeding club, a Breastfeeding Helpline that provides support for breastfeeding concerns, and a community based Doula program that connects expectant mothers with peer support throughout their pregnancy, during birth, and early postpartum period.
Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere, Inc. seeks to enhance, encourage, support, promote, and protect breastfeeding throughout the USA, by working to reduce the breastfeeding disparities among African-American women, and to strengthen the health of their babies and families through, mentoring, training, breastfeeding support groups, social support, outreach, education, legislation, health policies, and social marketing.
With a focus on increasing breastfeeding initiation and duration rates, Atlanta, GA based ROSE seeks to normalize breastfeeding by providing resources and networking opportunities for individuals and communities. ROSE offers free breastfeeding club for all moms and soon-to-be mothers; cover topics such as the advantages of breastfeeding, establishing a good milks supply, breastfeeding techniques and overcoming challenges, and introducing solids and weaning.
3. Mocha Manual
Mocha Manual is a series of books and a blog for African-Americans that cover pregnancy, breastfeeding and parenting lifestyle tips. Mocha Manual founder, Kimberly Sealis, is a committed advocate in the fight to reduce the racial disparities in breastfeeding rates and infant and maternal mortality rates.
Kimberly was named an IATP Food and Community Fellow, with a mandate to increase awareness and engagement around “the first food”—breast milk, in vulnerable communities. She was also selected by the United States Breastfeeding Committee as a lead commentator for the nationwide “Break Time for Nursing Mothers” federal campaign.
4. Normalize Breastfeeding
Normalize Breastfeeding aims to document and display diverse variations of normal breastfeeding, across cultures and delivery methods of breast milk. Participants can be an advocate for the cause by pledging to #NormalizeBFing or support mothers who choose to breastfeed.
Everyday mothers and supporters of breastfeeding use the hashtag #NormalizeBFing across various social media platforms to make breastfeeding visible and normalize its occurrence in everyday life. This movement celebrates breastfeeding through visuals.
5. Breastfeeding Support Groups for Black Moms
The Breastfeeding Support Group for Black Moms is a mom-to-mom breastfeeding support group that offers encouragement, support and evidence based information through community and friendship to help expectant and nursing moms to reach their breastfeeding goals.
The support group is hosted on Facebook and boasts over 50,000 active members and is growing daily. The groups leaders and admins include dedicated mothers Stacy Yeager-Huddleston, PhD, Certified Breastfeeding Peer Counselor, Courtney Lomax Polk, RNC-OB, CLC, IBCLC, Faye Harris, Certified Lactation Counselor and Peer Counselor, Shannon Shelton Miller, Nzinga Malika, Milliche Moss, Deidra Toran and Sharna Garrett.
6. Soul Food For Your Baby
Soul Food for Your Baby aims to revive the art of breastfeeding among African-American women through systems change and culturally competent media, educational and community outreach. Their mission is to revive the tradition of breastfeeding in the African-American community by making breast milk the first and only “soul food” of African-American babies for at least the first six months of life.
Soul Food for Your Baby offers a variety of opportunities for families to gain confidence in their choice to breastfeed. In addition to breastfeeding topics that concern families, they integrate child development and parent education information into our sessions. Soul Food for Your Baby offers breastfeeding classes and a monthly support group that allows for breastfeeding and parenting discussions and support from trained professionals.
7. African-American Breastfeeding Network Inc
The African-American Breastfeeding Network Inc’s mission is to promote breastfeeding as the natural and the best way to provide optimal nourishment to babies and young children. Their vision is to live in a world where breastfeeding is the norm within the African-American community.
The African-American Breastfeeding Network Inc. was established in 2008 to address breastfeeding disparities by increasing awareness of the benefits and value of mother’s milk, building community allies, and de-normalizing formula use. They offer monthly breastfeeding community gatherings that emphasize three P’s - prepare, plan, and pump. Father sessions are also offered and cover a wide variety of relevant topics.
8. Black Women Do Breastfeed
Black Women Do Breastfeed is a nonprofit organization focused on eliminating stigma against breastfeeding in Black communities, educating Black communities about the importance of breastfeeding, supporting Black breastfeeding families on their breastfeeding journeys, and improving the rates of breastfeeding in Black communities.
There is a cultural movement in the United States to make breastfeeding the norm in infant feeding once again. Many times, when the discussion about breastfeeding includes Black women in America, it focuses on why we don’t do it and how to encourage us to do it. Unfortunately, the discussion tends to miss the fact that there are many Black women who have breastfed and currently do breastfeed their babies. Black Women Do Breastfeed strives to make visible those Black women who do breastfeed.
Black Breastfeeding Week
Black Breastfeeding Week is an awareness campaign established in 2014 that is celebrated August 25 through August 31 of the year. Black Breastfeeding Week was created increase the rate of Black mothers breastfeeding. The 2018 theme of Black Breastfeeding week is #LoveOnTop.
The campaign is using this hashtag theme because love encompasses what parents do including breastfeeding and nurturing others. Love is also how the Black community survives grief, overcome breastfeeding and parenting challenges and why the Black community is encouraged to practice good self-care. In 2018, the Black Breastfeeding Week awareness campaign invite the community to put Love on Top of it all.
Bonus: RootMama's CocoaMos Breastfeeding Club
RootMama is committed to helping Black women reach their breastfeeding goals. We offer lactation support to our clients and recently launched a free breastfeeding support group, the CocoaMos Breastfeeding Club, which meets in our headquarters in southwest Dallas County, TX on Tuesday evenings.
We’re on the hunt to identify even more change-agents and leaders in our community that are promoting breastfeeding in the Black community. Tell us about who you know and how you plan to get involved in breastfeeding promotion. Did we miss any?