Compared to the rates for hispanic and white mothers in the United States, black moms lag behind. Breastfeeding for black moms is a rather taboo subject.
Sure, it may be more convenient to go to the store and buy formula but when you tally up the costs and benefits of breastfeeding there’s a clear upper hand to breastfeeding moms.
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), 68% of black infants get breast milk at some point compared to 85% of white babies and 84% of Hispanic babies.
So why don’t black mothers breastfeed as much as their counterparts? The following factors contribute to this phenomenon.
Many moms do not want to struggle with breastfeeding. From waking up in the middle of the night, multiple times, to needing a breast pump and storage place for the expressed milk.
Breastfed newborns need milk every 2 hours, compared to formula-fed newborns who drink their milk every 3-4 hours.
Lack of Resources
Unfortunately, there are not a whole lot of resources out there for expectant black mothers to support them with breastfeeding.
Unless you already know a mom, who has breastfed or have always wanted to, you won’t necessarily see commercials or advertisements that encourage breastfeeding in our communities.
Resources include things like, educational programs aimed to help mothers be successful at breastfeeding, and support for mothers who may have questions.
Many times, there are stereotypes within the community that discourage black mothers from breastfeeding.
Maybe your friends and family members aren’t as encouraging when it comes to breastfeeding your baby since it is sort of taboo within the community.
The Work Place
It is not very often that we get to be stay at home moms so that means after the 6 weeks is up we usually have to go back to work. Many employers aren’t very accepting and flexible with mom’s breast pumping while at work.
Of course, if your job doesn’t cooperate you will be reluctant to go against them since they are the ones paying the bills.
Why Breast-Feed in the First Place
Breastfeeding has substantial benefits for both mother and baby. There are many, many reasons to breastfeed your baby and support another mom who may be struggling.
- Babies Health
This one may be the most important for new moms. Your naturally made breast milk contains enzymes and hormones made especially for baby. Formula simply cannot be made with these structures included.
- Breast Milk Changes
Your own breast milk is tailored specifically to your babies needs at the time. If baby starts coming down with a cold, then your milk will start to supply nutrients and antibodies that will give the baby an extra push to get better.
- Birth Control
Yes, breastfeeding is also a form of birth control. Your body recognizes that you already have a little one so this stops the ovulation process.
For this to be effective you have to breastfeed without supplementing with formula and no solid foods for the baby before six months.
- Lose Weight
Your body will return back to normal size or a healthier size when breastfeeding. All of your energy and nutrients are being spent making a valuable concoction for baby.
Your uterus will contract into its regular size quicker so you can get back to your pre-baby weight.
- No Menstrual Cycle
Your cycle will not fully come back while exclusively breastfeeding. This is part of the reason that you won’t get pregnant at this time.
- Healthy Mom
Moms who breastfeed have been proven to have lower instances of breast cancer, cervical cancer, and even osteoporosis.
- Save Lots of Money
We all know how expensive formula can get. Whether you choose Similac or Enfamil or another brand you’re bound to spend an extra $100-200 a month, at least.
Breastfeeding simply does not have these costs.
Now that we know better we can begin to do better.
If you’re a mom talk to another mom about breastfeeding, see how they think and feel.
Educate friends and family members. Maybe you can start an initiative in your area.
Breastfeeding may not be possible for all new mothers so if you see someone in need, help them if you can.
Raise awareness to the disparities among black moms, and moms of other races. Just because we don’t breastfeed at equal rates right now doesn’t mean we can’t change that in the future.
Join a program and if you do happen to be expecting or wanting a baby soon, consider doing it yourself. Give it a try, what’s the worst that can happen?
It may be tough at first, but with the right resources, you could be really successful. For more information on the benefits of breast feeding go here.