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Black Breastfeeding Week

Black Breastfeeding Week

Here are a few events hosted by our national partners to explore and address these issues:

What Is Black Breastfeeding Week?

Black Breastfeeding Week was created because for over 40 years there has been a gaping racial disparity in breastfeeding rates. The most recent CDC data show that 75% of white women have ever breastfed versus 58.9% of black women. The fact that racial disparity in initiation and even bigger one for duration has lingered for so long is reason enough to take 7 days to focus on the issue.


Join Mama's Leche on August 22nd at 12:00 PM MST for a Virtual Breastfeeding Sit-In Protest in the name of love and in solidarity against systemic racism!

Register here

During this protest, Mama's Leche will offer a read-aloud of Mama's Leche, their bilingual children's book, and will hear wisdom from a sister circle of panelists, including NMBTF's Monica Esparza!

Mamas make the world go 'round. Remember, #georgefloyd called out for his mother before he died. The world needs more Mama's Leche (mother's milk) other words, the world needs nurturing, healing, motherly love.

From The New Mexico Birth Equity Collaborative:

The New Mexico Birth Equity Collaborative (NMBEC) is pleased to join the New Mexico Breastfeeding Task Force (NMBTF) in celebrating and acknowledging Black Breastfeeding Week 2020. To better understand why we need a Black Breastfeeding Week or to learn more about the efforts click here.  

Together we have understood and continue to understand that breastfeeding is a tradition of Black and African people that has been severely impacted by racism, colonialism, slavery, systemic disruption of families and inequities and healthcare and health outcomes. For many Black parents, breastfeeding is more than a choice, it is a revolutionary act.

We want to see this change. As Black and Latinx Birth Equity and Breastfeeding Advocates, we understand that Black Breastfeeding Week is a time to be in conversation about anti-racist ways to support Black families in meeting their breastfeeding, safety and other health goals. The ability and choice to breastfeed are often radical acts in a culture that separates families, dehumanizes and over sexualizes Black bodies and undermines Black parenting and autonomy almost every step along the parenting journey. Today, the NMBEC and NMBTF extend an invitation to Black families and childbearing people -ALL YEAR LONG- that authentically asks: “how can I support your journey?” “What health resources and protections do you need to reach optimal health for your children and your families, and how can we help?” 

We stand in solidarity with local and national Black led organizations in cheering our Black sisters and childbearing people on for our/their triumphs, vision, audacity and brilliance! This BBFW2020, find a way to acknowledge Black breast and chest-feeding families in their right to: Revive. Restore and Reclaim the cultural tradition of mother’s milk as nutrition, healing, bonding and revolutionary love for Black families. 

Black women know how to breastfeed, our job is to remove the racist, classist and sexist barriers that make it so hard to do so.

In solidarity,


Sunshine Muse, Director, Black Health New Mexico

Monica Esparza, Deputy Director, New Mexico Breastfeeding Task Force

Both: Proud members, The New Mexico Birth Equity Collaborative 

Why Does Black Breastfeeding Week Matter?

1. The high black infant mortality rate: Black babies are dying at twice the rate (in some place, nearly triple) the rate of white babies. This is a fact. The high infant mortality rate among black infants is mostly to their being disproportionately born too small, too sick or too soon. These babies need the immunities and nutritional benefit of breast milk the most. According to the CDC, increased breastfeeding among black women could decrease infant mortality rates by as much as 50%. So when I say breastfeeding is a life or death matter, this is what I mean. And it is not up for debate or commenting. This is the only reason I have ever needed to do this work, but I will continue with the list anyway.

2. High rates of diet-related disease: When you look at all the health conditions that breast milk—as the most complete “first food,” has been proven to reduce the risks of—African American children have them the most. From upper respiratory infections and Type II diabetes to asthma, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and childhood obesity—these issues are rampant in our communities. And breast milk is the best preventative medicine nature provides.

3. Lack of diversity in lactation field: Not only are there blatant racial disparities in breastfeeding rates, there is a blatant disparity in breastfeeding leadership as well. It is not debatable that breastfeeding advocacy is white female-led. This is a problem. For one, it unfortunately perpetuates the common misconception that black women don’t breastfeed. It also means that many of the lactation professionals, though well-intentioned, are not culturally competent, sensitive or relevant enough to properly deal with African American moms. This is a week to discuss the lack of diversity among lactation consultants and to change our narrative. A time to highlight, celebrate and showcase the breastfeeding champions in our community who are often invisible. And to make sure that breastfeeding leadership also reflects the same parity we seek among women who breastfeed.

4. Unique cultural barriers among black women: While many of the “booby traps”™ to breastfeeding are universal, Black women also have unique cultural barriers and a complex history connected to breastfeeding. From our role as wet nurses in slavery being forced to breastfeed and nurture our slave owners children often to the detriment of our children, to the lack of mainstream role models and multi-generational support , to our own stereotyping within our community—we have a different dialogue around breastfeeding and it needs special attention.

5. Desert-Like Conditions in Our Communities: Many African American communities are “first food deserts”—it’s a term I coined to describe the desert like conditions in many urban areas I visited where women cannot access support for the best first food-breast milk. It is not fair to ask women, any woman, to breastfeed when she lives in a community that is devoid of support. It is a set up for failure. Please watch this video and educate yourself on the conditions in many vulnerable communities about what you can do (beyond leaving comments on blogs) to help transform these areas from “first food deserts” into First Food Friendly neighborhoods.