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Celebrating Black Breastfeeding

August is National Breastfeeding Month, and August 25-31 is Black Breastfeeding Week. This important time celebrates the incredible strength, resilience, and bonding that comes with breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is a beautiful and natural way to nourish little ones, but it’s essential to acknowledge the unique challenges faced by Black mothers. 

For over four decades, breastfeeding rates among Black women have significantly trailed those of white women—rates among Black women are approximately half those of white women. Consequently, there is often an assumption among medical professionals that Black women don’t breastfeed, leading to a lack of education and support in this crucial aspect of maternal and infant health(1). These disparities are alarming, especially considering the profound implications they have on the health and well-being of Black infants.

The reasons behind these disparities are complex and multifaceted. They span racial and socioeconomic lines and are rooted in both structural and cultural factors. Lack of support from medical professionals, limited access to breastfeeding role models, and the historical trauma of Black women being used as wet nurses during slavery are all contributing factors (1). 

Here at New Moms, our team of doulas work to bridge this gap in breastfeeding through education, support, and access to parenting resources for our young moms. Nyehla, one of our talented doulas, chatted with her participant Jasmine about her breastfeeding journey with her son, Gadget, in celebration of Black Breastfeeding Week.

Jasmine’s journey with breastfeeding started before Gadget was born, when she faced uncertainty about the practice.

“Several of my friends tried breastfeeding but it didn’t work out for them.” Jasmine explained. “My mom tried breastfeeding me and my sister when we were little and it didn’t work out for her either. Knowing that breast milk is best for him, since he gets all the nutrients, the immune boost, and the [good gut] bacteria—I was determined to try.”

When Gadget was born, Jasmine learned to overcome the challenges by listening to her body, especially when it came to varying supply levels. 

 “The hardest part for me was the engorgement because it was like a constant pain. Even while feeding him at night, I would be spraying milk out of the other side, like almost every time. It was a lot to adapt to—how much I needed to attend to myself to make sure I was comfortable. But after a while it got easier and the engorgement went away. I got to a point where I would know what I needed to do,” Jasmine said.

After breastfeeding for several months, Jasmine is able to reflect on her journey with pride.

“I am proud that I’ve been able to keep myself healthy enough to keep up with it and that he’s getting all the nutrients that he needs. He’s growing appropriately and it’s all because of the work my body is doing.” 

As Jasmine continues on her own breastfeeding journey, she offers insight and encouragement.

“The challenges will always fade away if you give it enough time. The hardest part of doing something new is the waiting period to see if it works. You just kind of have to wait it out, like give it 3-4 weeks and if it’s really not working, do what you gotta do because your baby has to eat. But if you wanna try it, don’t be mad at yourself if it’s not working. I went through a point where my milk supply dropped and I had to start supplementing with formula. I struggled with that a little bit—feeling like I was failing because I couldn’t make enough for him. You’ve just gotta remind yourself that there’s so many factors that go into how much milk you’re producing that it’s not necessarily something that you can control or care too much about.”

If you would like to learn more about the history of Black breastfeeding, check out the article referenced above here. If you are interested in working with our doulas or attending prenatal or parenting classes, look for opportunities here! 

  1.  “The History of Black Women & Breastfeeding,” Irth, Narrative Nation, February 25, 2021,,against%20their%20domineering%20slave%20masters