For over 40 years, there has been a racial disparity in breastfeeding rates. The most recent CDC study shows that 80 percent of Hispanic women and 75 percent of white women breastfeed their children. The data shows that only 58.9 percent of black women initiate breastfeeding.
To address the low breastfeeding rates among black mothers, Anayah Sangodele-Ayoka, Kimberley Seals Allers, and Kiddada Green created Black Breastfeeding Week. Now in its fourth year, held August 25-31st, Black Breastfeeding Week has helped to create a community and shed light on the fact that black women, contrary to data and stereotypes, do breastfeed. “We noticed that as breastfeeding promotion increased, the face of it was still very white and every year we’re still having more research come out showing that there’s a disparity in support for breastfeeding for black women,” Anayah Sangodele-Ayoka commented to The Huffington Post in a recent article.
Additional reasons that the women decided to create Black Breastfeeding Week include the desire to address, lessen and even eradicate the following problems that face the black community: high black infant mortality rate, high rates of dietary-related disease, lack of lactation field diversity, unique cultural barriers among black women, and community food deserts.
Black Breastfeeding Week encourages women to start breastfeeding, connect with other moms and become a part of breastfeeding social networks. “What we really found was that for black women, in particular, peer support models tend to be a lot more effective when there’s a sort of affinity culturally, racially between people there tends to be better support for breastfeeding,” explained Sangodele-Ayoka.
Ultimately, Black Breastfeeding Week is about celebrating breastfeeding and letting black moms know that they are not alone.
The Black Breastfeeding Week movement is continually growing. For more information about Black Breastfeeding Week or to become a part of the mission, visit their website at http://blackbreastfeedingWeek.org/.