Black Breastfeeding Week: Why We Still Need It In 2023?

Black Breastfeeding Week: Why We Still Need It In 2023?

Each August, National Breastfeeding Month is celebrated nationally to raise awareness about the rewards and challenges of breastfeeding. In the Black community, the breastfeeding rates are lower compared to other communities, and Black Breastfeeding Week is celebrated August 25-31 to raise awareness among Black women (and the world!) about the benefits of breastfeeding. Black Breastfeeding Week highlights and celebrates the experiences of Black individuals in Canada and the US. This is the 11th year #BBW is celebrated and this year's theme is #BBW2023: We Outside! Celebrating Connection & Our Communities! 

But why do we need Black Breastfeeding Week, you might ask. Here are top 5 reasons why we (still!) need a Black Breastfeeding Week in 2023:

  1. Addressing Racial Disparities: A significant racial disparity exists in breastfeeding rates, with Black women having lower rates of initiation and duration compared to white women. Using data from the National Immunization Survey-Child, researchers looked at how many mothers who gave birth in 2021 introduced their babies to breastfeeding. Overall, 83 percent of U.S. mothers breastfeed their babies at birth. But when researchers broke down that number by race, 85 percent of white mothers saying they breastfed, far more than the 69 percent of black mothers who said the same – a 16 percent disparityBlack Breastfeeding Week brings attention to this inequality and advocates for the necessary support systems and resources to bridge this gap. 

  2. Infant Mortality Reduction: The high infant mortality rate among Black babies can be significantly reduced through increased breastfeeding rates. Breast milk provides crucial immunities and nutrients, and promoting breastfeeding in Black communities can help save lives and improve overall infant health. Black infants are disproportionately born underweight, too sick or prematurely. These babies need the nutritional benefit of breast milk the most. According to the CDC, increased breastfeeding among black women could decrease infant mortality rates by as much as 50%.

  3. Combatting Diet-Related Diseases: Breast milk is a potent preventative measure against diet-related diseases, which are often more prevalent in Black communities. Highlighting the benefits of breastfeeding can play a vital role in reducing the risks of conditions such as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, Type II diabetes, childhood obesity, and respiratory infections that are common among Black children.

  4. Diversifying Breastfeeding Advocacy: The lactation field has lacked diversity, both in terms of leadership and cultural competency. Black Breastfeeding Week aims to shift this narrative by celebrating Black breastfeeding champions, advocating for more representation, and ensuring culturally sensitive support for Black mothers.

  5. Addressing Cultural Barriers: Unique cultural barriers and historical factors impact Black women's perceptions and experiences of breastfeeding. Kimberly Seals Allers stated, "From our role as wet nurses in slavery being forced to breastfeed and nurture our slave owners children often to the detriment of our children, to the lack of mainstream role models and multi-generational support, to our own stereotyping within our community—we have a different dialogue around breastfeeding and it needs special attention." Black Breastfeeding Week provides a platform to openly discuss and address these challenges, fostering a more supportive environment and understanding within Black communities. 


For anyone interested in learning more about Black Breastfeeding Week and the events and resources it offers, you can visit their official website at This website provides detailed information about the events, community grants, and resources available for Black individuals seeking information and support about breastfeeding.


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