August 1-7 is World Breastfeeding Week, which is a part of Breastfeeding Awareness Month. This week is a global campaign organized by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action to raise awareness about issues related to breastfeeding.
This year’s theme is Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility. This means understanding how breastfeeding plays a role in improving the health for everyone. Having a community that supports breastfeeding in health systems, workplaces, and neighborhoods can help keep babies and families healthy.
Exclusive breastfeeding (meaning your baby is only fed with breast milk) is recommended for the first six months of your baby’s life. After six months, your baby can start slowly having other foods.. This can help your baby get the nutrients they need to grow. Babies who are breastfed have a lower risk of many health conditions such as asthma, obesity, type 1 diabetes, and ear infections. Breastfeeding also protects moms from breast cancer, ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure.
Here are some other benefits of breastfeeding:
- As your baby grows, your breastmilk changes to match the nutrients the baby needs.
- Antibodies in breast milk help your baby’s immune system (so they don’t get sick).
- You can breastfeed anytime and anywhere without worrying about packing formula.
- Breast milk is comforting for a baby if their normal routine is interrupted during a trip.
Only 63% of Black moms breastfeed, compared to 75% of white moms. There are many reasons for this disparity. One reason is that Black women often have less access to quality maternal care. There are also fewer Black people working in maternal health settings. This means Black moms might have a harder time finding care that works for them. However things are getting better. Breastfeeding among Black moms has increased in recent years.
There are many organizations that support breastfeeding for Black moms, such as the Black Mothers’ Breastfeeding Association. This Detroit-based nonprofit fights for racial equality in breastfeeding support through education and resources. They offer services such as a Community-based Doula Program, Black Mothers’ Breastfeeding Club, and Breastfeeding Helpline. Black moms can find other resources here to help them in their breastfeeding journey.