(Image from https://www.facebook.com/MochaManual)
August has been Breastfeeding Awareness Month in the United States for several years now. It kicks off with World Breastfeeding Awareness Month on August 1-7th. This year, a group of concerned lactivists proposed a Black Breastfeeding Week to close out the month. It has been met with unexpected and vehement opposition.
I would expect anyone who reads about pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding to understand why this is necessary. Our black citizens have more incidence of lower birth weight and prematurity than other ethnic groups. The black community has higher prenatal and maternal mortality rates than any other segment of the population. And, they have lower rates of breastfeeding than any other ethnic groups. This is not race mongering. These are cold, hard and pathetic statistics in a day and age when we are supposedly “enlightened”.
We can all agree that breastfeeding offers the best start in life. Our human milk is made just for our human babies, and it evolves to meet their needs as they grow into toddlerhood. If there is a group that needs to hear this message loud and clear, then absolutely, dedicate a week out of the month to raise awareness. End of story. Start of advocacy.
Instead of arguing whether or not this is necessary, jump in and ask, how can we help? I don’t care what race, color, creed or orientation, if you say your group needs help with increasing the number of Motherbabys choosing to breastfeed, and then going on to have successful breastfeeding relationships, then help is what they should get. End of story. Start of advocacy.
Breastfeeding is not an exclusive club. The whole point of Breastfeeding Awareness Month is to educate people *everywhere* about the benefits, the struggles, the need for support, and the myriad of options (besides formula) that are available to families who want to feed their babies human milk. When a group acknowledges that their is a disparity in breastfeeding rates and wants to do something about it, then by all means, give them the time and attention they are asking for. Breastmilk is free, local and sustainable…what do we lose by ensuring that all mamas have equal access to correct, accurate and inspiring information and support?
We have enjoyed sharing our breastfeeding anecdotes, reflections on our journey as breastfeeding mamas, and pictures of breastfeeding and the lifestyle choices that support breastfeeding with you this month. Did you see any black MotherBabys? Me neither.
You can count on this: next year, we will be helping our sisters who want to see all the benefits of breastfeeding to improve outcomes and quality of life for the MotherBabys in the black community.
Now that I am ready to jump off my soapbox, please share with us. Did you learn anything new this month? Were you inspired by a mama in your community? Please let us know – we love reading about your breastfeeding milestones.