This week, a coalition of community groups are working together to provide programming focused on breaking down the barriers around Black breastfeeding in Delaware. The Delaware Healthy Mother and Infant Consortium, Black and Indigenous Birthworkers of Delaware, Black Mothers in Power, Delaware Health and Social Services, and The Connect are sponsoring multiple events throughout the region.
Black Breastfeeding Week, now in its eighth year, is a national program created as a response to the persistent poor maternal health and infant mortality rates for Black women in the United States. Black infant mortality rates are more than doubled the national average. In Delaware, Black babies are 2.5 times more likely to die than White babies before their first birthday.
Studies have shown that breastfeeding reduces mortality rates among infants. The research concludes that breast milk has dietary, cost-effective, sociological, and psychological benefits that are advantageous for vulnerable populations. According to the CDC, increased breastfeeding by black mothers could decrease infant mortality rates by as much as 50%.
“Black mothers’ voices need to be heard, and our issues need to be in the forefront of the conversation,” says Shané Darby of Black Mothers In Power. “The education piece of this is crucial but we also are looking to break down barriers for moms who cannot breastfeed due to not having a proper length of maternity leave, resources, and support.”
The disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic within Black communities has magnified the effects of pre-existing barriers to breastfeeding among Black women. The pandemic has disrupted or discontinued interventions for Black breastfeeding support, such as peer-led support and community-based interventions.
“We are creating the village of support to help mothers whether it’s online or in-person because they need it now more than ever,” says Erika Gunter of Black Mothers in Power.
This week’s events include:
Tuesday, August 25: Black Maternal Health Virtual Pop up
Wednesday, August 26: Breastfeeding: It’s Takes A Village
Friday, August 28: Chocolate Milk: The Big Latch for Black Families
Saturday, August 29: Virtual Statewide Black Womens March