When it comes to breastfeeding, everyone’s journey is different — and for Black women, the journey can be amazing, enriching, and challenging, but at times more complicated than our sisters of other races. For a long time, Black mothers have not been given the resources and support of other breastfeeding mothers, and there are serious racial disparities in breastfeeding rates — as well as negative stereotypes surrounding Black breastfeeding. That’s why there’s a need for Black Breastfeeding Week (Aug. 25-31), which closes out the month of August, recognized as National Breastfeeding Month. This year, the theme is ‘The Big Pause: Collective Rest for Collective Power.’
“We must end the dangerous conversation of breastfeeding as a ‘choice’ without a deeper discussion as to how Black women’s choices are shaped by their circumstances,” Kimberly Seals Allers, co-founder of Black Breastfeeding Week, told the Huffington Post in 2018. Its purpose is to “highlight the unique challenges and triumphs of Black breastfeeding that are often overlooked in the general conversation surrounding breastfeeding.”
While there are many ways to feed our babies — and none of them are wrong — Black women have the lowest breastfeeding initiation and duration rates, which can result in health issues including Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC), a serious gastrointestinal problem that mostly affects premature babies and disproportionately affects Black infants. The best way to help prevent NEC is with mother’s milk.
Black Breastfeeding Week also puts the spotlight on the role that breastfeeding plays in saving the lives of Black infants, so while it’s not the cure-all for this issue, it helps start and continue the conversation when Black celebrity moms share their own very personal experiences with breastfeeding. There will be challenges, yes, but we can get through the experience with the support of all of our sisters.
Whether it’s the biggest celebrity mom we can think of (Beyonce) or the everyday woman like you and me, breastfeeding can be complicated. Celebs like Serena Williams, Halle Berry, Tia Mowry, and Alicia Keys have been vocal about their breastfeeding experiences and we’re thankful for their honesty because it allows us all to see that no breastfeeding experience is perfect.
We’re thankful to every breastfeeding parent out there who shares their journey as normalizing breastfeeding not only helps create bonds with our children but also with other parents sharing the journey. Here are some of our favorite quotes from famous Black moms who’ve shared their highs and lows while breastfeeding.
For more information about Black Breastfeeding week, visit BlackBreastfeedingWeek.org.
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