The reasons behind the creation of Black Breastfeeding Week, now in its seventh year, are not happy ones. Racial disparities in breastfeeding rates are huge: As cited on Black Breastfeeding Week’s website, 75% of white women have breastfed, while only 58.9% of black women have. Given the benefits that breastfeeding can have for both mother and baby, that alone could be worth an awareness campaign. But other disparities, including lack of diversity in the lactation consultant field and the fact that black mothers face more structural obstacles to breastfeeding once they reenter the workforce, add more urgency to the issue.
As Ms. Magazine noted, this year’s Black Breastfeeding Week also comes just after the American Academy of Pediatrics released its report on the effects of racism on children’s health. The week is a time to raise awareness, build community, and have discussions. But it is also a time for black mothers to celebrate their choice to breastfeed despite the disproportionate difficulties they may face. By sharing photos with the hashtag #BlackBreastfeedingWeek, which runs until August 31. Here are some of the most beautiful ones:
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Brandi Sellerz is a doula and educator as well as writer. The top comment on her post starts with “I didn’t know this was a thing,” bringing more women in on the conversation.
Baby Tula, a baby carrier company, shared this photo of lactation educator Chardá Fontenot, as well as posting a video of her talking about Black Breastfeeding Week on Instagram and Facebook. You can watch the discussion here.
Jasmine Chanelle writes about juggling breastfeeding and being an entrepreneur.
The Happiest Baby is also doing a series on black moms and breastfeeding, and how issues of race, class, and education influence their journey. You can read their profile of Avriel Epps here.
One Instagram user shared a picture of friends breastfeeding together, emphasizing the role of community and support that many women rely on.
The hashtag is also giving many black doulas and lactation consultants to call attention to their work.
Some mothers are also using the week to share pictures of them breastfeeding for the first time on social media.
Ashely, the mother behind Mommy and Moon, writes, “being a black woman who breastfeeds is powerful.”
Kelly Sloan, a singer and songwriter, posted about how support from her black moms Facebook group, as well as her doula, helped her with the many transitions in the first year of breastfeeding.
The choice to breastfeed or not is ultimately a personal one, and many moms may ultimately decide it doesn’t work for them or their family. But all women should have the support, resources, and