Research

Mamas on Bedrest: Black Breastfeeding Infographic

August 31st, 2016

Hello Mamas,

As Black Breastfeeding Week wraps up, I am pleased to share with you an infographic that I helped to develop. Hope it helps you have get the vital information you may need to breastfeed!!!Black Breastfeeding Week_Aug 25-31_final

 

Mamas on Bedrest: Why there is a need for “Black Breastfeeding Week

August 18th, 2016

Hello Mamas,

Black Breastfeeding Week is August 25-31, 2016. Many may be asking, if August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month and August 1-6 was World Breastfeeding Week, why is there a need for a Black Breastfeeding Week???

According to organizers Kimberly Seals Allers, Kiddada Green and Anayah Sangodele-Ayoka,

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 an even bigger one for duration has lingered for so long is reason enough to take 7 days to focus on the issue.”

And the organizers cite 5 specific reasons a Black Breastfeeding week is essential:

  1. The High Black Infant Mortality Rate
  2. High Rates of Diet Related Disease in African Americans
  3. Lack of diversity in the lactation field
  4. Unique cultural barriers among black women
  5. Desert-like conditions in our communities

If you ask any black breastfeeding expert what are the top barriers to breastfeeding for black women, they will reply:

  1. The historical role of black women as “wet nurses” to white (slave owner’s) children
  2. The perception by many black people that breastfeeding is “dirty” or “nasty” (the result of #1)
  3. The aggressive campaign by formula companies who capitalized on the notion that “poorer women” breastfeed and modern women of means used formula.
  4. Hospitals that serve primarily black patients have been shown not to offer the same level of support and education for breastfeeding initiation to black women
  5. Few professional black lactation consultants
  6. The lack of support from family members for breastfeeding

It has to be recognized that breastfeeding has very different implications for black women than for white women and lactation consultants trying to counsel black women to breastfeed must be aware of the cultural history of breastfeeding for black women. They need to be aware of the fact that many black women have no breastfeeding role models as their mothers, grandmothers, sisters and aunts may not have breastfed their babies. Without the family tradition of breastfeeding, and the history of the “mammy” wet nurse, many black women lack breastfeeding support and encouragement from their families and are not eager to breastfeed themselves. Many black women work at jobs where they may not be able to take time to nurse or pump, nor do they have a private place to nurse or pump at work. For these reasons in particular and many others, it is imperative that more black women become trained as lactation consultants. Certification to become an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), the top credential for lactation consultants, is such a rigorous and expensive endeavor, and many black women who want to become certified state they cannot afford to undertake the process.

So while there are many challenges that face black women who choose to breastfeed and Sellers, Greene and Sangodele-Ayoka-like many other black women who are well versed in the benefits of breastfeeding for back women-have taken it upon themselves to create an organization that promotes breastfeeding and where they can provide information, education, support and resources for black women who want to breastfeed.  

In counseling black women to breastfeed, highlighting the benefits of breastfeeding is a potent motivator. Breastfed babies are:

  • Less likely to have allergies and asthma
  • Less likely to have upper respiratory and ear infections
  • Less likely to have weight problems as adults
  • Less likely to develop Type 2 Diabetes
  • Able to self soothe/are less fussy
  • Have less stomach upset (and less incidence of Necrotizing Enterocolitis)
  • May have increased intelligence
  • Less likely to die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

And breastfeeding greatly benefits Mamas, Too!

  • Mamas who breastfeed tend to return to their pre-pregnancy weight sooner
  • Mamas who breastfeed experience decreased incidences of breast and ovarian cancers
  • Mamas who breastfeed experience decreased incidences of Type 2 diabetes

Before being brought to this country as slaves, black women successfully breastfed their babies. Unfortunately, the legacy of slavery and many current socioeconomic and cultural barriers have made breastfeeding a difficult process for many mamas. It is imperative that these barriers be eliminated and that the education, support and resources be made available so that black mamas and their babies can reap the many life enhancing benefits of breastfeeding.

My Breastfed babies then…..

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My kids just days after the birth of my son.

And Now!!

IMG_2108

References:

http://blackbreastfeedingweek.org/

https://historyengine.richmond.edu/epsiodes/view/2901

www.bbc.com/news/blogs-magazine-monitor-27744391

http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6205a1.htm

http://www.webmd.com/women/news/20140821/racial-disparities-in-breast-feeding-may-start-with-hospitals-study-suggests

www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/27/black-mothers-breastfeedi_n_5721316.html

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK52688/

http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6333a2.htm?s_cid=mm6333a2_w

http://womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/breastfeeding-guide/breastfeedingguide-africanamerican-english.pdf

http://www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-benefits.html

 

 

 

 

 

Mamas on Bedrest: How Does Breastfeeding Help Prevent Breast Cancer-REALLY??

October 14th, 2015

nursing infantHello Mamas!!

I am sure that we are all well aware by now of the benefits of breastfeeding for infants. Human breastmilk is the perfect food for infants because,

  • It has the proper amount of nutrients and adapts to the nutrition needs of the infantIt is easily digested,
  • It requires no preparation or special storage,
  • It is is always the right temperature (when directly from the breast).
  • Babies that are breastfed are less likely to have ear infections
  • Breastfed babies are less likely to have allergies and asthma and if they do have allergies and asthma the conditions tend to be less severe
  • Breastfed babies have a reduced incidence of developing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
  • Breastfed children have a lower incidence of obesity

With all of these great benefits for children, you’d think that we here in the US would be jumping through all sorts of hoops to make sure that ALL mamas breastfeed their babies. There has been a lot of information distributed and I think that more mamas are breastfeeding their infants-at least for the first few months of life. However, data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states,

“In 2011, 79% of newborn infants started to breastfeed. Yet breastfeeding did not continue for as long as recommended. Of infants born in 2011, 49% were breastfeeding at 6 months and 27% at 12 months.”

So while we are seeing improvement, we still have a ways to go to reach the Healthy People 2020 goal of approximately 82% of infants being exclusively breastfed at birth. Yet, would these numbers change if mamas knew the benefits of breastfeeding on their health, in particular on their risks of developing breast cancer?

Rachel King, a health education specialist in MD Anderson’s Lyda Hill Cancer Prevention Center reports:

“Research shows mothers who breastfeed lower their risk of pre- and post-menopausal breast cancer. And, breastfeeding longer than the recommended six months can provide additional protection.”

Most women who breastfeed experience hormonal changes during lactation that delay their menstrual periods. This reduces a woman’s lifetime exposure to estrogen, which can promote breast cancer cell growth. In addition, during pregnancy and breastfeeding, you shed breast tissue. “This shedding can help remove cells with potential DNA damage, thus helping to reduce your chances of developing breast cancer,” King adds.

Breastfeeding also can help lower your ovarian cancer risk by preventing ovulation. And the less you ovulate, the less exposure to estrogen and abnormal ovarian cells that could become cancer.

So EXACTLY how can mamas lower their breast (and ovarian) cancer risks by breastfeeding?

  1. Have their babies before age 30
  2. Breastfeed for at least 6 months
  3. Get education and support from a lactation consultant
  4. Take Breastfeeding classes
  5. Get the support of family, friends and employers
  6. Ask employers for quiet, private places to pump

Breastfeeding is not chic nor a trend. Breastfeeding is the natural way that human babies were intended to be fed. Now we know that breastfeeding is beneficial not only to babies but also protective against breast cancer for mamas. What other incentives do we need? Let’s do this, Mamas!

October is Breast cancer awareness month. Mamas, If you have questions about breast cancer, have a family history of breast cancer or want to reduce your risk of developing breast cancer, start by breastfeeding your infant for at least 6 months. For more information, speak with your health care provider, consult with a lactation consultant and check out the information below (This is just a sample of what is available and what was cited in this post. For sure there is more information available!!). As always, you can post your questions and comments below for a ready reply!

References:

DrWeil.com

MD Anderson Center

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-US Breastfeeding Report Card 2014