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Native Breastfeeding Week

Native Breastfeeding Week

Native Breastfeeding Week is to highlight the Native Breastfeeding experience in all forms through the visibility of personal testimonies, partner experiences, research, articles, barriers, and/or success. #NativeBreastfeedingWeek

- Native Breastfeeding Week's Facebook Page

Go to Native Breastfeeding Week's Facebook page to participate in these events!



Join Shining Mountain Health and Wellness in celebrating Breastfeeding Awareness!

Support breastfeeding by participating in their first ever virtual walk. Walk 1 mile on your own and send them a photo!
















Join Bold Futures on August 13th at 2 PM for a live #1stSacredFood twitter chat!

Why does Native Chest/Breastfeeding Matter?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the current literature on breastfeeding patterns among American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) mothers is scarce, thus warranting further research.

Based on the limited data, AI/AN mothers have lower rates of breastfeeding initiation (introduction of breastfeeding within one hour of birth), duration, and exclusivity relative to other racial/ethnic groups except for African Americans:

  • AI/AN rates of breastfeeding initiation (73%) among all races/ethnicities versus the average (83%)
  • Rates of breastfeeding duration at 6 months (42.4%) and at 12 months (20.7% of mothers who initiate)
  • 76% (3 out of 4) of AI/AN mothers terminated breastfeeding within 4 months of the child’s birth
  • Formula supplementation is high (97%) for those mothers who didn’t initiate.
  • There’s no regulation on how baby formula is advertised in the U.S., a reason mothers could think formula is a substitute for breast milk.
  • Pasteurized donor milk could help those babies, but it’s often not covered by either private or public insurance, and buying donor milk without insurance can easily cost thousands of dollars a month.
  • That leaves many newborns, especially those in low-income families, without access. At “safety-net” hospitals where more than 75 percent of patients are on Medicaid, only 13 percent routinely make donor milk available to premature babies in intensive care, according to a 2012 survey.
  • Lack of knowledge about breastfeeding, unsupportive cultural and social norms, concerns about milk supply, poor family and social support, and unsupportive work and childcare environments make it difficult for many mothers to meet their breastfeeding goals. It is the “political, social, and environmental factors that actually shape breastfeeding.”**
  • On a positive note, AI/AN mothers who were still breastfeeding at 6 months were more likely to still be breastfeeding at 12 months

So, this community is to put a face to the data and to share the contributions, importance, adversity, and celebration of Native breast/chestfeeding families.

Native Breastfeeding is an act of defiance to the colonial systems and their imposed “norms” as well as a resilience of culture and body sovereignty, no matter the length of your experience. In decolonizing practices of motherhood such as breastfeeding, we can promote food sovereignty, body sovereignty, and the healing of the next generation. In decolonizing feeding practices, we follow the needs of our children.

“Extended breastfeeding” is what some advocates call breastfeeding beyond years 1 or 2, but, as an Indigenous person, to continue to meet the needs of our children by chest/breastfeeding beyond infancy, we are merely upholding our traditional parenting.

Jasha Lyons Echo-Hawk, Oklahoma, "A Closer Look At Native Breastfeeding Week"

What is Native Breastfeeding Week?

The mission of the Native Breastfeeding Week community is to reflect the diversity of Native Breastfeeding experiences and/or encourage and uplift visibility of Native Breastfeeding experiences.

This community... hopes to address the inequity and injustice of Indigenous mothers and their abilities to practice their roles in accordance to the tribal communities they descend from.

Breastfeeding is defined as “the natural feeding of babies and young children with milk from a woman’s breast.” We also recognize gender non-conformity, and language also will include chestfeeding individuals.

Native Breastfeeding Week will occur during the week beginning on the second Sunday in August, which is recognized as National Breastfeeding Month in the United States.

Jasha Lyons Echo-Hawk, Oklahoma, "A Closer Look At Native Breastfeeding Week"