According to NPR, African American women are the least likely of all women in the nation to breastfeed. The U.S. government, nonprofit organizations and hospitals are taking measures to teach Black women the benefits of nursing.
Kathi Barber, author of “The Black Woman’s Guide to Breastfeeding,” founded the African-American Breastfeeding Alliance, a nonprofit lactation consulting organization that offers workshops and training in nursing. Barber was frustrated to find that she was “the first woman in her family for generations to nurse.”
Angela Ewing-Boyd, program manager for the Developing Families Center in Washington D.C., told NPR a lot of new mothers are disgusted by the thought of nursing.
People say, “I can’t imagine doing that to my child, and that’s just nasty,” she says. “It’s like the primary function of the breast is one-dimensional.”
Mothers can also become frustrated if their babies do not latch on to their breasts right away.
Breastfeeding programs like the one created at the Boston Medical Center ten years ago have seen a hike in the percentage of nursing mothers. The hospital’s campaign began by educating staff and patients. Practitioners also stopped giving new moms free formula.
In 1993 only 35 percent of African American mothers breastfed. In 2006 that number jumped to 65 percent. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows there’s still a lot more work to do to get more AA mothers to nurse their babies, as other ethnic groups in America show an almost 100 percent rate of breastfeeding.
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