black breastfeeding week
Kenniqua Mon'a

While history books will see 2020 as the year of a global pandemic, there is one guiding light that may have a long-term positive effect on our society. This year, from state to state, Black people and allies from all backgrounds came together to fight for racial equality, march against inequality and raise our voices against police brutality.

The effect of this inequality stems from 400 years of oppression and systemic racism, which contributes to the Black maternal health crisis, poor infant health outcomes and lower breastfeeding rates within the Black community.

When it comes to breastfeeding, common struggles such as securing a proper latch, nipple soreness and low milk supply occur for all races. But for Black breastfeeding mothers, there is an additional set of struggles that are often overlooked.


While it's only a start, Black Breastfeeding Week can be an equalizer, bringing attention to the challenges Black women face while promoting the fact that Black women do, in fact, breastfeed.

These are breastfeeding challenges Black mothers face and what we can start doing today to initiate a positive change:

1. Lack of prenatal support

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black mothers are four times more likely to die during and after pregnancy. In fact, a study from the University of Tennessee College of Medicine proved that healthcare providers often assume that Black patients are overreacting when raising issues regarding pain, discomfort and other difficulties.

The nonchalant outlook regarding the health concerns of Black women can lead to the common assumption that Black mothers do not breastfeed. As a result, the breastfeeding education that expectant Black mothers should receive is often left out of the prenatal care plan.

How Black Breastfeeding Week helps: It encourages increased integration of prenatal breastfeeding education. By raising awareness of the racial disparities experienced by the Black community, this week can motivate healthcare workers to place a greater emphasis on promoting and encouraging breastfeeding to their Black expectant mothers.

2. Lack of postpartum breastfeeding support

After giving birth it is common for new mothers to receive assistance with latching, education regarding the benefits of breastfeeding, and a visit from a lactation consultant. But for Black mothers, this experience may be very different. In fact, a study indicated that hospitals located in areas with a higher percentage of Black residents were less likely to provide adequate breastfeeding support. Additionally, Black infants are more likely to be formula fed in the hospital than other races.

Compared to white mothers, researchers at Northshore University reported that Black mothers were significantly more likely to be encouraged to formula feed. Early initiation of formula feeding without necessity can reduce the likelihood of long-term breastfeeding success.

How Black Breastfeeding Week helps: This week draws attention to this discrepancy, thus reminding birth workers that Black mothers DO breastfeed and that, with proper education and support, the breastfeeding rates among the Black community will improve.

3. Lack of support within the Black community

In addition to the uncomfortable stares nursing mothers may get while breastfeeding in public, Black breastfeeding women also have to deal with stigmas within their own community. These stigmas stem from the historical trauma of being forced to wet nurse babies of their slave owners, which often led to the neglect and inability to nurse their own children. Because of this, breastfeeding is not normalized within Black families or the Black community.

How Black Breastfeeding Week helps: With a focus on normalizing and celebrating breastfeeding in public, this awareness can help to eliminate the stigma of breastfeeding within the Black community. When more of the Black community see their peers proudly nursing their babies in public, it will break the generational belief that "breastfeeding is only for white women."

4. Lack of support within the breastfeeding community

Of the 32,553 International Board Certified Lactation Consultants worldwide, very few of them are African American. Black mothers often find it easier to discuss their breastfeeding struggles with someone that understands the disparities and cultural issues they may face. Additionally, the majority of advertisements depicting breastfeeding mothers do not feature Black women. Without role models and supporters that look like them, it is unlikely that Black mothers will strive to breastfeed since it is not promoted within their community.

How Black Breastfeeding Week helps: While this is an unfortunate truth, Black Breastfeeding Week seeks to encourage Black women to become lactation consultants by pointing out the lack of diversity within the lactation community. It also highlights the amazing Black lactation consultants available that act as role models for aspiring Black breastfeeding supporters.

Here's how you can make a difference:

These struggles have led to a lower percentage of breastfeeding Black mothers when compared to other races, however, with raised awareness by the CDC and campaigns like Black Breastfeeding Week, the statistics are improving. In 2015, only 64.3% of black infants were breastfed. The most recent CDC breastfeeding statistic report shows that there was a 10% increase in breastfeeding of Black infants.

With increased prenatal and postpartum support (regardless of your race), more access to resources, and added representation of both Black breastfeeding mothers and Black lactation professionals, these statistics will continue to improve, resulting in healthier communities everywhere.

Here are three actionable ways you can support Black Breastfeeding Week right now:

  1. Write to your government officials and tell them why they should celebrate and promote Black Breastfeeding Week in your city/state.
  2. Share articles like this on social media to help your friends, family and the rest of the world learn about why this week is necessary.
  3. Like and share images of Black breastfeeding women on your social media channels. Black representation matters and your support just might encourage a mother to breastfeed.

In This Article

    These challenges from Nike PLAYlist are exactly what my child needs to stay active

    Plus a fall family bucket list to keep everyone moving all season long.

    While it's hard to name anything that the pandemic hasn't affected, one thing that is constantly on my mind is how to keep my family active despite spending more time indoors. Normally, this time of year would be spent at dance and gymnastics lessons, meeting up with friends for games and field trips, and long afternoon playdates where we can all let off a little steam. Instead, we find ourselves inside more often than ever before—and facing down a long winter of a lot more of the same.

    I started to search for an outlet that would get my girls moving safely while we social distance, but at first I didn't find a lot of solutions. Online videos either weren't terribly engaging for my active kids, or the messaging wasn't as positive around the power of movement as I would like. Then I found the Nike PLAYlist.

    I always knew that Nike could get me moving, but I was so impressed to discover this simple resource for parents. PLAYlist is an episodic sports show on YouTube that's made for kids and designed to teach them the power of expressing themselves through movement. The enthusiastic kid hosts immediately captured my daughter's attention, and I love how the physical activity is organically incorporated in fun activities without ever being specifically called out as anything other than play. For example, this segment where the kids turn yoga into a game of Paper Scissors Rock? Totally genius. The challenges from #TheReplays even get my husband and me moving more when our daughter turns it into a friendly family competition. (Plus, I love the play-inspired sportswear made just for kids!)

    My daughter loves the simple Shake Ups at the beginning of the episode and is usually hopping off the couch to jump, dance and play within seconds. One of her favorites is this Sock Flinger Shake Up activity from the Nike PLAYlist that's easy for me to get in on too. Even after we've put away the tablet, the show inspires her to create her own challenges throughout the day.

    The best part? The episodes are all under 5 minutes, so they're easy to sprinkle throughout the day whenever we need to work out some wiggles (without adding a lot of screen time to our schedule).

    Whether you're looking for simple alternatives to P.E. and sports or simply need fun ways to help your child burn off energy after a day of socially distanced school, Nike's PLAYlist is a fun, kid-friendly way to get everyone moving.

    Need more movement inspiration for fall? Here are 5 ways my family is getting up and getting active this season:

    1. Go apple picking.

    Truly, it doesn't really feel like fall until we've picked our first apple. (Or had our first bite of apple cider donut!) Need to burn off that extra cinnamon-sugar energy? Declare a quick relay race up the orchard aisle—winner gets first to pick of apples at home.

    To wear: These Printed Training Tights are perfect for when even a casual walk turns into a race (and they help my daughter scurry up a branch for the big apples).

    2. Visit a pumpkin patch.

    We love to pick up a few locally grown pumpkins to decorate or cook with each year. Challenge your child to a "strongman" contest and see who can lift the heaviest pumpkin while you're there.

    To wear: Suit up your little one in comfort with this Baby Full Zip Coverall so you're ready for whatever adventures the day brings.

    3. Have a nature scavenger hunt.

    Scavenger hunts are one of my favorite ways to keep my daughter preoccupied all year long. We love to get outside and search for acorns, leaves and pinecones as part of our homeschool, but it's also just a great way to get her exercising those gross motor skills whenever the wiggles start to build up.

    To wear: It's not truly fall until you break out a hoodie. This cozy Therma Elite Kids Hoodie features a mesh overlay to release heat while your child plays.

    4. Have a touch-football game.

    Tip for parents with very little kids: It doesn't have to last as long as a real football game. 😂 In fact, staging our own mini-games is one of our favorite ways to get everyone up and moving in between quarters during Sunday football, and I promise we all sleep better that night.

    To wear: From impromptu games of tag to running through our favorite trails, these kids' Nike Air Zoom Speed running shoes are made to cover ground all season long.

    5. Create an indoor obstacle course.

    Pretending the floor is lava was just the beginning. See how elaborate your personal course can get, from jumping on the couch to rolling under the coffee table to hopping down the hallway on one foot.

    To wear: These ready-for-any-activity Dri-FIT Tempo Shorts are perfect for crawling, hopping and racing—and cuddling up when it's time to rest.

    This article was sponsored by Nike. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

    Our Partners

    This post is brought to you by Staples. While this was a sponsored opportunity, all content and opinions expressed here are my own.

    One of the biggest changes in my household once my daughter started homeschooling was that, suddenly, everything and everyone in our home had to start pulling double duty. While I was used to wearing a lot of hats (mom, wife and WFH employee, to name a few), suddenly our dining room was also pulling shifts as a classroom. My laptop was also a virtual teacher. Our living room hutch was also a school supply closet.

    If I didn't want my home to be overrun with an abundance of clutter, I had to find products that could multitask. Here are 10 products that are saving this WFH + homeschooling mama right now.

    Stylish storage cabinet

    Whether I need a place to keep the printer or just want to keep crayons and colored pencils organized, this pretty cabinet provides a mixture of exposed and hidden storage without clashing with my living room decor.

    White board calendar + bulletin board

    With so much on our plates these days, I need a visual reminder of our daily schedule or I'll forget everything. This dry erase version makes it easy to keep track of Zoom meetings and virtual classes—and I also love using the corkboard to display my daughter's latest work from art class.

    Natural Recycled 3-Ring Binder

    From tracking our curriculum progress to organizing my family's paperwork, I can never have enough binders. Even better, this neutral version is pretty enough that I can display them on the bookshelf.

    Bamboo storage drawers

    The instant you start homeschooling, it can feel like you're suddenly drowning in papers, craft supplies and more. Fortunately, these simple bamboo drawers can be tucked into the cabinet or even displayed on top (seriously, they're that cute!) to keep what we need organized and close at hand.

    Laminated world map

    I love this dry-erase map for our geography lessons, but the real secret? It also makes a cute piece of wall decor for my work space.

    Rolling 7-drawer cabinet

    When you're doing it all from home, you sometimes have to roll with the punches—I strongly recommend getting an organizational system that rolls with you. On days when both my husband and I are working from home and I need to move my daughter's classes to another room, this 7-drawer cabinet makes it easy to bring the classroom with us.


    From our first day of school photo to displaying favorite quotes to keep myself motivated, this 12"x18" letterboard is my favorite thing to display in our home.

    Expandable tablet stand

    Word to the wise: Get a pretty tablet stand you won't mind seeing out every day. (Because between virtual playdates, my daughter's screen time and my own personal use, this thing never gets put away.)

    Neutral pocket chart

    Between organizing my daughter's chore chart, displaying our weekly sight words and providing a fits-anywhere place to keep supplies on hand, this handy little pocket chart is a must-have for homeschooling families.

    Totable fabric bins

    My ultimate hack for getting my family to clean up after themselves? These fabric bins. I can use them to organize my desk, store my oldest's books and even keep a bin of toys on hand for the baby to play with while we do school. And when playtime is over, it's easy for everyone to simply put everything back in the bin and pop it in the cabinet.

    Looking for study solutions for older children? Hop over to Grown & Flown for their top picks for Back to School.

    Work + Money

    100 unusual + surprising baby name ideas

    From Adelia to Ziggy.

    Our list of 100 baby names that should be on everyone's list this year includes more choices than in the past of names that are obscure and surprising. That's because there are so many more unusual baby names coming into widespread use and baby namers have become a lot more adventurous.

    Expectant parents do not need to be told to move beyond Jennifer and Jason. Their thinking about names has evolved to the point that the most useful thing we can do is offer a large menu of intriguing choices.

    Here are our picks for the 100 best surprising + unusual baby names now.

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