Black women have had the lowest breastfeeding initiation rates of all races. The reasons are complex and deeply rooted in slavery, the commodification of Black bodies and the historical oppression of Black birth in the United States. This page is meant to be a brief overview of the issue of low Black breastfeeding rates while providing solutions and resources that you can share with your communities and clients.
It also has life-saving benefits for mothers by increasing the production of oxytocin, the “love hormone,” which can help the mom/birthing person by:
It also helps burn extra calories for the mom. Black moms and infants who don’t breastfeed miss out on these important health benefits.
The racial gap in breastfeeding rates is shrinking thanks to tireless leaders like Kimberly Seals Allers, founder of Black Breastfeeding Week, and the work of lactation and infant feeding specialists, health professionals who specialize or are certified in human lactation and breastfeeding.
While any supportive person can increase the chances of breastfeeding initiation, Black women’s complex history warrants culturally competent lactation and infant feeding specialists.
Black women specializing in helping and supporting Black moms to breastfeed are becoming increasingly crucial to changing the narrative around breastfeeding. Meet Oakland-based lactation consultants TaNefer Camara and Brandi Gates.