August 25, 2020
Black Breastfeeding Week 2020: Revive. Restore. Reclaim!
By: Sharon Muza, BS, CD/BDT(DONA), LCCE, FACCE, CLE | 0 Comments
In the United States, August is National Breastfeeding Month. The last week of the month is observed as Black Breastfeeding Week (BBW) to raise awareness of the importance and celebration of breast/chestfeeding for Black parents and babies. If you are not sure why such a week is needed, you can read this beautifully written and informative post by Kimberly Seals Allers that effectively answers that question.
This year’s Black Breastfeeding Week’s theme is “Revive. Restore. Reclaim!” On the website you can see the entire scope of events planned at locations across the USA. First recognized in 2013, and growing bigger and more widely acknowledged every single year since, BBW states that the week:
"has been celebrated throughout the nation with over 800 community events, 10+ million social media impressions, and $5000+ distributed in community grants and prizes and featured in national media outlets including nationally syndicated Tom Joyner Morning Show, Ebony Magazine, and The Huffington Post, among others. Black Breastfeeding Week is the sole health campaign with an explicit national focus with online and local impact on Black maternal and infant health through breastfeeding.”
Awareness and focus is even more critical than ever in 2020 with the COVID-19 pandemic. Black communities have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and action steps to increase the rate of breast/chestfeeding amongst Black families have needed to be modified out of concern for the health of new parents and babies. In person community groups, and in person parent support meetings are limited or turned into virtual meetings, access to lactation consultants restricted as in-home visits are curtailed. Programs across the country are facing challenges as they struggle to work under the current circumstances.
Childbirth educators can continue to come out strong in support of breast/chestfeeding information, and make sure that we are providing appropriate resources in our classes that clearly welcome and celebrate the new Black parent who is feeding their baby human milk.
Here are some very simple steps that every educator should be currently doing to be welcoming and supportive:
- Have breast models and “practice” babies that come in all skin tone colors so everyone can see themselves in the class.
- When discussing changes to the pregnant body and chest, make sure you speak to how the changes may look on a Black person as well as other skin tones. (see below).
- Use posters, videos and images that reflect Black families breast/chestfeeding their babies. I really love Global Health Media, where they have remarkable, well done, free videos for both new parents and health care providers.
- Provide the names of Black lactation consultants in your area who can support a Black family with their lactation needs after the baby arrives.
- When you talk about jaundice and the newborn, speak to the fact that a Black baby who has jaundice may look different than a white baby with the same condition.
- As you discuss potential breast/chestfeeding problems, recognize that signs of mastitis (streaks or tender area) or a yeast infection on the areola will look different on Black bodies.
- Mentor and support new Black childbirth educators, helping them gain skills and confidence, so they can then go on to teach themselves. Refer Black families to the classes of Black childbirth educators in your community.
Aa a source of continuing your education on this topic, you may want to sign up to view this free webinar recording presented by Gold Lactation. Nekisha Killings MPH, IBCLC is the facilitator of the session “How Did I Miss That?: Breast Assessment and Non-White Skin Tones,” which is an excellent resource for educators even though we do not do clinical assessments.
Black Breastfeeding Week may be only seven days and come around once a year, but the things that childbirth educators can be doing to support both Black families and Black perinatal professionals should be an everyday occurrence. If you are not taking these actions listed above, commit to doing so immediately, because supporting the Black parent/baby dyad with lactation is saving lives.
TagsBreastfeeding Childbirth education Black Breastfeeding Week Sharon Muza Breast/Chestfeeding Global Health Media BBW Black Breastfeeding Week 2020 Kimberly Seals Allers Nekisha Killings