Breastfeeding in Color

A CDC report released in 2008 revealed some significant statistics. While 47 percent of the African American moms initiated breastfeeding by 6 months 16.6 percent of moms were still breastfeeding. By the time those infants were 12 months of age only 6.3 percent were still being breastfeeding. Those numbers were from study in the year 2000. In 2008 the numbers jumped 11.6 percent at initiation to 58.6 percent, 13 percent at six months for a total of 19.3 percent and about 6 percent at 12 months bringing that total to 12.3 percent. Auspiciously the statistics improved significantly in that 8 year period.

Yet there is still something missing. Though it may not matter to others it bothered me for awhile. Where are the pictures of mothers of color breastfeeding their babies? I mean I see a few pop up during African American month, I may see one or two at a doctors office, and children’s museum in the nursing rooms. If I am feeling really adventurous I will look on many of the Pro breastfeeding Facebook fan sites.  Where I may find one or two photos or if I really lucky I will find a picture of a lady standing outside a hut. A woman, who yes may have the same skin color as me and yes she is breastfeeding her child… yet in all reality I cannot identify with her. In many of those photos you will almost always find the comment ” oh its nice to bring some diversity to the page.” This is the part when I usually rant or bang my head on the wall.

I decided I need to find more pictures of mothers I can relate to.

When I first started off I contacted every breastfeeding page, every group every mom I knew of. I even had friends searching for me. I have come up with 10 photos.

I almost just abandoned ship and said “f” it. Yet there were signs that this needed to be done.

When a lady contacted me to let me know my project was not needed because she saw a black lady breastfeeding in a picture at her WIC office ( because only one photo is good enough).

Posting my photo received the comment my son isn’t mine I must be the wet nurse.

The children’s doctor looked at me very surprised that I was still breastfeeding this look came with the comment ” oh wow … breastfeeding rates in your community are low.”

My biggest reason

A conversation just yesterday on a breastfeeding page. This page shared a picture of a slave being a wet nurse to a slave owners baby.  Which this picture came the question of whether slavery had anything to do with the breastfeeding rates in the Black community and how can we help to fix this?

When will the Jesus – lets save everyone thinking stop? The Black community does not need saving, we do not need pity, we DO need to come together as a community and solve the problem. Affordable if not free lactation education classes, EDUCATION IS KEY.

The question should be: How can we as a community help every African American mother have access to breastfeeding education and the support system that every mother should have when breastfeeding?

Yet in this conversation the reasons that the breastfeeding rates were low came up. Like all conversations of race it made people uncomfortable. Historical trauma was written off as just a cop out excuse for black mothers. Though the lady who said this did apologize. White privilege that no one wants to acknowledge came up the conversation was uncomfortable even for me. Yet this conversation proved there was a problem.

Perhaps maybe a way to help would be pictures. If more mothers of color saw other moms who they could relate to breastfeed maybe just maybe more moms would try to breastfeed, then succeed at breastfeeding . They do say pictures speak a thousand words.

Hopefully these pictures and the stories shared will prove that breastfeeding is not a white middle class stay at home mom thing.

Please view the “Breastfeeding in Color Gallery.”

To the moms who gave me their pictures Thank you!

7 thoughts on “Breastfeeding in Color

  1. You should add this image to your gallery as well (and perhaps this mama to your Friends list, since you appear to have similar aims).

    Hopefully the link works, if not it’s a link to the Facebook page of one Ashley Wright, a photographer (and woman of color) who is trying to promote breastfeeding by showing beautiful images of nursing mamas. The one of her and her daughter is one of the most gorgeous breastfeeding shots I’ve ever seen. Enjoy, and best of luck in your work.

  2. I 100% agree that picture would speak 1000 words. I had my boys in Memphis,Tn. The only pictures I saw in the hospital, lactation office and wic office was of black and Hispanic women. Not one white woman. That didn’t stop me from breast feeding. My mom didn’t , her mom didn’t , my sister did for one so I don’t come from breastfeeders. But I was mature and educated.

    In Memphis in the black community it is a lot of teenagers having babies. At 16/17 I don’t know it I would have been mature enough to have breast fed. Also, what is the incentive to breast feed you have to be around your baby or pay for a pump why would someone young do that when they can get formula for free and have other people take care of their babies.

    Breastfeeding is hard you have to have support. You will need to educate generations before not just the mom. This is my opinion. I try to talk to has many people. Volunteer with young girls and I explain things to them if they ask.

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