Black Breastfeeding Week was created because for more than 40 years there has been a gaping racial disparity in breastfeeding rates. The most recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data show that 75% of white women have ever breastfed versus 58.9% of black women. The fact that racial disparity in initiation and even bigger one for duration has lingered for so long is why Black Breastfeeding Week was created.
UofL Health is committed to understanding the roles that health care systems play in racial inequality, and our leadership has outlined steps to combat health disparities. More and more people are educating themselves on social justice issues. As many of us are examining the issues of systemic racism, we have an opportunity to discover actionable ways to support people of color (POC) who are breastfeeding.
As a Baby-Friendly facility, UofL Hospital’s Center for Women & Infants is dedicated to improving breastfeeding initiation and exclusive breastfeeding rates for our families. Here are a few ways that we plan to support Black breastfeeding in our community:
- Learn about systemic factors that play a role in low breastfeeding initiation and exclusive breastfeeding rates among POC.
- Ensure culturally competent breastfeeding support is provided to POC as a part of our lactation training.
- Gain an understanding of the historical significance that slavery plays in attitudes about breastfeeding.
- Encourage diversity in lactation education and certification: support scholarships, contribute to the cost of training, and encourage staff members of color to obtain certifications.
- Share positive images of Black breastfeeding on social media.
- Connect breastfeeding POC to organizations committed to breastfeeding: Black Mothers Breastfeeding Association, R.O.S.E, Mocha Manual, Soul Food for Your Baby, Black Women Do Breastfeed, etc.
To learn more, visit BlackBreastfeedingWeek.org.