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When it comes to breastfeeding, there is a drastic racial disparity: Black mothers are less likely than White mothers to breastfeed their children. Why? For starters, hospitals in Black communities do not promote nursing as much as those in white communities. But it’s also about visibility. Black moms and babies aren’t portrayed in maternity advertising and marketing as often as White moms and babies. And the same is true on social media. A little more than a year ago, I noticed that most of the popular maternity and new mom Instagram accounts depicted very few women of color. Clearly, there needed to be more of an equal representation of women who breastfeed. When you don’t see yourself reflected in the mainstream media, you have to create your own platforms. So I created Black Moms Breastfeed .

Image: Sasha M of theryankid_n_thesashakid

Breastfeeding is, of course, about more than beautiful imagery; it’s about our babies’ health. The United States has a higher infant mortality rate than any of the other 27 wealthy countries, at 6.1 deaths per 1,000 live births. That number for Black infants is a staggering 11.1 . This is a socioeconomic crisis that is clearly not due to a lack of breastfeeding alone. But it is estimated that we can save 1.3 million lives worldwide by reducing stunting, treating malnutrition, and increasing breastfeeding . As a global public health recommendation, infants should be entirely breastfed for the first six months of life to achieve the best possible health, growth, and development .

Image courtesy of Natalie T. of @royalhouseofwraps Royalhouseofwraps.com, Dennis Larios Photography

In recent years, breastfeeding rates have risen without question, with some of the greatest improvements being in the Black community. According to the latest official report from the CDC the percentage of Black women who chose to breastfeed increased from 47.4% to 58.9% over an eight-year period. A more recent CDC study even shows that of infants born in 2012, 66% of Black women chose to breastfeed. But while that is a fantastic improvement, breastfeeding statistics show that compared to other races, the Black community is still lagging: 75% of White women and 80% of Hispanic women choose to breastfeed. When baby turns six months old, only 27% of Black mothers continue to breastfeed, as opposed to 44% of women overall.

Image courtesy of JoJo B., @CurlyNuGrowth, curlynugrowth.com

Researchers have been able to pinpoint several contributing factors to this racial disparity and its resulting health care crisis:
  • There is a lack of breastfeeding education provided by health care providers in urban populations. This is one of the most critical pieces because the brief time that a mother and baby spend in the hospital immediately after birth can have a long-term effect on breastfeeding success. Hospitals in zip codes with greater than 12.2% black residents are less likely to receive the support required to be designated baby-friendly or pro-breastfeeding institutions .
  • The strong marketing strategies by formula companies, combined with the lack of Black mothers depicted in breastfeeding marketing and materials, create the notion that formula should be the “normal” and first choice.
  • Within the Black community, certain social stigmas related to breastfeeding still exist. Many of these stigmas date all the way back to slavery, when Black women were forced to be “wet nurses” for their masters’ children.
  • Black women are also less likely to receive high-quality health care, breastfeeding-focus education, and community support.

Dashalay K., @dashadarling_

So why are these positive images of Black mothers and babies important? We live in an age where pictures and social media are huge pillars in our society: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, etc. Visual representation is huge: it allows us to open our minds and start the conversation; and the more we see individuals who look like us and who we can relate to, the more normal a behavior becomes. Unlike what the media often depicts, black women can be entrepreneurs. They can be business women and wives and good mothers, and they have and still do breastfeed. In an attempt to reframe the messages that we receive from the media, Black Moms Breastfeed hopes to highlight the beauty of breastfeeding across races and to serve as a platform where Black moms and babies can rest in love and community. Written by S.M.M., a Registered Nurse, Certified Lactation Consultant, and creator of the Instagram page @BlackMomsBreastfeed. She grew up in the Midwest, has traveled the country, and now lives on the East Coast. Please visit and support the community at Black Moms Breastfeed.
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Parents in New Jersey will soon get more money and more time for parental leave after welcoming a baby.

This week New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed off on legislation that extends New Jersey's paid family leave from six weeks to 12.

It also increases the benefit cap from 53% of the average weekly wage to 70%, meaning the maximum benefit for a parent on family leave will be $860 a week, up from $650.

It might not seem like a huge difference, but by raising the benefit from two-thirds of a parent's pay to 85%, lawmakers in New Jersey are hoping to encourage more parents to actually take leave, which is good for the parents, their baby and their family. "Especially for that new mom and dad, we know that more time spent bonding with a child can lead to a better long-term outcome for that child," Murphy said at a press conference this week.

The law will also make it easier for people to take time off when a family member is sick.

Because NJ's paid leave is funded through payroll deductions, workers could see an increase in those deductions, but Murphy is betting that workers and businesses will see the benefits in increasing paid leave benefits. "Morale goes up, productivity goes up, and more money goes into the system," Murphy said. "And increasingly, companies big and small realize that a happy workforce and a secure workforce is a key ingredient to their success."

The new benefits will go into effect in July 2020 (making next Halloween a good time to get pregnant in the Garden State).

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Whether you just need to stock up on diapers or you've had your eye on a specific piece of baby gear, you might want to swing by your local Walmart this Saturday, February 23rd.

Walmart's big "Baby Savings Day" is happening from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at participating Walmarts (but more deals can be found online at Walmart.com already and the website deals are happening for the rest of the month).

About 3,000 of the 3,570 Supercenter locations are participating in the sale (check here to see if your local Walmart is).

The deals vary, but in general you can expect up to 30% off on items like cribs, strollers, car seats, wipes, diapers and formula.

Some items, like this Graco Modes 3 Lite Travel System have been marked down by more than $100. Other hot items include this Lille Baby Complete Carrier (It's usually $119, going for $99 during the sale) and the Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat (for as low as $199).

So if you're in need of baby gear, you should check out this sale. Travel gear isn't the only category that's been marked down, there are some steep discounts on breast pumps, too.

Many of the Walmart locations will also be offering samples and expert demos of certain products on Saturday so it's worth checking out!

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Any Schumer has not had an easy pregnancy. She intended to keep working, but if you follow her on social media you know she's been very sick through each trimester.

And now in her final trimester she's had to cancel her tour due to hyperemesis gravidarum, also known as HG. It's a rare but very serious form of extreme morning sickness, and on Friday evening Schumer announced she is canceling the rest of her tour because of it.

“I vomit every time [I] ride in a car even for 5 minutes," Schumer explained in an Instagram post.

Due to the constant vomiting she's not cleared to fly and just can't continue to the tour.

This is not the first time Schumer has had to make an announcement about HG. Back in November, just weeks after announcing her pregnancy, she had to cancel shows and again broke the news via Instagram.

She posted a photo of herself in a hospital bed with her little dog Tati, and spelled out the details of her health issues in the caption. "I have hyperemesis and it blows," Schumer wrote.

Poor Amy. Hyperemesis gravidarum is really tough.

Kate Middleton, Ayesha Curry and Motherly co-founder Elizabeth Tenety are among those who, like Schumer, have suffered from this form of severe morning sickness that can be totally debilitating.

As she previously wrote for Motherly, Tenety remembers becoming desperately ill, being confined to her apartment (mostly her bed) and never being far from a trash can, "I lost 10% of my body weight. I became severely dehydrated. I couldn't work. I couldn't even get out of bed. I could barely talk on the phone to tell my doctor how sick I was—begging them to please give me something, anything—to help."

Thankfully, she found relief through a prescription for Zofran, an anti-nausea drug.


Schumer probably knows all about that drug. It looks she is getting the medical help she obviously needs, and she was totally right to cancel the tour in order to stay as healthy as possible.

We're glad to see Schumer is getting help, and totally understand why she would have to cancel her shows. Any mama who has been through HG will tell you, that wouldn't be a show you'd want front row seats for anyway.

Get well soon, Amy!

[A version of this post was published November 15, 2018. It has been updated.]

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As a military spouse, Cydney Cooper is used to doing things alone. But when she delivered her twin daughters early after complications due to Influenza A, she was missing her husband Skylar more than ever.

Recovering from the flu and an emergency C-section, and trying to parent the couple's two older boys and be with her new infant daughters in the NICU, Cydney was exhausted and scared and just wanted her husband who was deployed in Kuwait with the Army and wasn't expected home for weeks.

Alone in the NICU 12 days after giving birth, Cydney was texting an update on the twins to her husband when he walked through the door to shoulder some of the massive burden this mama was carrying.

"I was typing up their summary as best I could and trying to remember every detail to tell him when I looked up and saw him standing there. Shock, relief, and the feeling that everything was just alright hit me at once. I just finally let go," she explains in a statement to Motherly.

The moment was captured on video thanks to a family member who was in on Skylar's surprise and the reunion has now gone viral, having been viewed millions of times. It's an incredible moment for the couple who hadn't seen each other since Skylar had a three-day pass in seven months earlier.

Cydney had been caring for the couple's two boys and progressing in her pregnancy when, just over a week before the viral video was taken, she tested positive for Influenza A and went into preterm labor. "My husband was gone, my babies were early, I had the flu, and I was terrified," she tells Motherly.

"Over the next 48 hours they were able to stop my labor and I was discharged from the hospital. It only lasted two days and I went right back up and was in full on labor that was too far to stop."

Cydney needed an emergency C-section due to the babies' positioning, and her medical team could not allow anyone who had previously been around her into the operating room because anyone close to Cydney had been exposed to the flu.

"So I went in alone. The nurses and doctors were wonderful and held my hand through the entire thing but at the same time, I felt very very alone and scared. [Skylar] had been present for our first two and he was my rock and I didn't have him when I wanted him the most. But I did it! He was messaging me the second they wheeled me to recovery. Little did I know he was already working on being on his way."

When he found out his baby girls were coming early Skylar did everything he could to get home, and seeing him walk into the NICU is a moment Cydney will hold in her heart and her memory forever. "I had been having to hop back and forth from our sons to our daughters and felt guilty constantly because I couldn't be with all of them especially with their dad gone. It was one of the most amazing moments of my life and I won't be forgetting it."

It's so hard for a military spouse to do everything alone after a baby comes, and the military does recognize this. Just last month the Army doubled the amount of leave qualifying secondary caregivers (most often dads) can take after a birth or adoption, from 10 days to 21 so that moms like Cydney don't have to do it all alone.

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