Happy Black Breastfeeding Week! This very important week of awareness was created not only to celebrate Black motherhood but also to correct the racial disparities that hinder Black women from given their babies the most important kind of nourishment.
Studies have shown that Black infants had a significantly lower rate of breastfeeding at age 3 months (58 percent) than that of White infants (72.7 percent). According to the CDC, increased breastfeeding among Black women could decrease infant mortality rates by as much as 50 percent. Breastfeeding has also been proved to reduce the likelihood of children developing future health conditions like asthma, obesity and type 2 diabetes.
There are a number of reasons for that gap. Black mothers disproportionately experience a number of barriers to initiating and continuing their breastfeeding journey. This includes lack of knowledge about breastfeeding, lack of support from family and friends, lack of support from the health care industry, and work demands. Not to mention there’s also the social stigma of women made to feel ashamed for breastfeeding their children in public settings. This is why the social media hashtag #normalizebreastfeeding has been picking up steam over the past few years.
In honor of Black Breastfeeding Week, which seeks to improve these statistics and give Black women the tools and encouragement they need to continue their breastfeeding journey, we’ve rounded up a beautiful gallery of Black moms normalizing breastfeeding.
*Editor’s note: All of the women pictured in this article haven given ESSENCE permission to use their photographs for this purpose.
“Because All Breastfeeding Journeys are Not the Same”
Know Your Rights-Lactation/Paid Family Leave:
Breastfeeding After Reduction:
State Breastfeeding Coalition Links: