A version of this story was originally published on October 2, 2020. It has been updated.
Breastfeeding is beautiful, but it can be tough, too. Clogged ducts, low milk supply, mastitis and latching difficulties can all make the journey of a breastfeeding mother a hugely challenging one. Nursing a baby is such a monumental, long-term experience and nursing moms need all the support they can find. And that support is greatly needed—according to our 2022 State of Motherhood survey, 39% of respondents say more support would improve their positive feelings around motherhood.
For Black breastfeeding mothers, though, there are additional challenges that they may experience. These challenges are primarily due to racial discrimination, lack of support from both healthcare providers and the community, and generations of trauma that have contributed to lower breastfeeding rates, higher infant mortality rates, and higher rates of chronic illnesses in the Black community.
Breastfeeding support and education for Black mothers is vital in order to improve outcomes for Black mothers who choose to nurse, and to improve breastfeeding and health statistics in the community.
Here a few resources that promote, educate and empower Black breastfeeding mothers throughout their journey.
1. African American Breastfeeding Network
The African American Breastfeeding Network is committed to improving breastfeeding rates and infant and maternal health in the Black community by providing breastfeeding support and education in the form of Community Peer Counselors, advocacy, and birth support. They also offer free doula support to birthing parents in southeastern Wisconsin.
2. Black Mothers' Breastfeeding Association
Black Mothers' Breastfeeding Association is a Detroit-based organization that's committed to eliminating the racial disparities experienced by Black breastfeeding families through advocacy, education and support for parents throughout their pregnancy and breastfeeding journey. They aim to build foundational networks of support, and strengthen systems to overcome historical, societal and social barriers to breastfeeding success.
3. Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere (ROSE) Inc.
Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere (ROSE) Inc. was founded to address breastfeeding disparities for communities of color. ROSE works to normalize breastfeeding by providing resources and networking opportunities for individuals and communities. As a national expert, and in partnership with communities, they build equity in maternal and child health through culturally competent training, education, advocacy, and support.
4. Black Women Do Breastfeed
Black Women Do Breastfeed is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to eliminate stigma against breastfeeding in Black communities, educate Black communities about the importance of breastfeeding, educate Black families on the elements of breastfeeding, support Black breastfeeding families on their breastfeeding journeys, increase the visibility of Black breastfeeding families in our communities and improve the rates of breastfeeding in Black communities. Their Facebook page and blog share photos and stories of Black parents breastfeeding to help end the cultural stigma and show that Black women do breastfeed!
5. Black Breastfeeding Week
Each year for the past decade, Black Breastfeeding Week has used 7 days at the end of August to highlight, empower and uplift the Black breastfeeding community. Black Breastfeeding Week was created because for over 40 years there has been a gaping racial disparity in breastfeeding rates. The most recent CDC data show that 75% of white women have ever breastfed versus 58.9% of black women. Through education, support, and advocacy, they hope to diminish the racial disparities experienced by Black breastfeeding parents.
6. Soul Food for Your Baby
Soul Food for Your Baby (SFYB) is a south Los Angeles-based organization aims to increase breastfeeding rates in the African American community, starting in south Los Angeles. They currently offer an online breastfeeding support group and hope to offer breastfeeding classes, support groups and in-home support along with dynamic community outreach activities in the near future.
7. Breastfeeding Support Group for Black Moms
With over 114,000 members, the Breastfeeding Support Group for Black Moms Facebook group is a great resource for Black breastfeeding parents. The Breastfeeding Support Group for Black Moms offers peer-to-peer, evidence-based breastfeeding support to its members to help encourage and educate them to meet their breastfeeding goals.
Motherly designed and administered this survey through Motherly’s subscribers list, social media and partner channels, resulting in more than 17,000 responses creating a clean, unweighted base of 10,001 responses. This report focuses on the Gen X cohort of 1197 respondents, Millennial cohort of 8,558 respondents, and a Gen Z cohort of 246 respondents. Edge Research weighted the data to reflect the racial and ethnic composition of the US female millennial cohort based on US Census data.