The month of August is National Breastfeeding Month. Each year women across the United States and the world celebrate and share their journey breastfeeding their babies. Breastfeeding advocacy groups, lactation consultants, peer coaches and other breastfeeding supporters plan many events to raise awareness and support to educate women and the public about the importance of breastfeeding babies. Women also join in the celebration by taking to various social media platforms to share their stories of breastfeeding and encourage other mothers and pregnant women to breastfeed their babies, too.
In recognition of National Breastfeeding Month (NBM), each year the USBC hosts a social media advocacy and/or outreach campaign inviting breastfeeding coalitions, member/partner organizations, and individual supporters to join online actions and conversations to build support for the policy and practice changes needed to build a ‘landscape of breastfeeding support.’
August 25th through the 31st is the 4th Annual Black Breastfeeding Week (BBW). This year’s theme is “Oh What a Joy!” BBW is a week-long celebration of African American mothers who breastfeed their babies. It is a national event that was created by three women who strongly believe in encouraging and supporting Black mothers who breastfeed.
- Kiddada Green, co-creator of Black Breastfeeding Week and founding executive director of Black Mothers’ Breastfeeding Association
- Kimberly Seals Allers, co-creator of Black Breastfeeding Week and project director of the First Food Friendly Community Initiative
- Anayah Sangodele-Ayoka, co-creator of Black Breastfeeding Week and co-editor of Free to Breastfeed: Voices from Black Mothers (Praeclarus Press)
According to Green, the three women were together at a conference and discussed starting a week-long celebration to recognize Black mothers who breastfeed. Black Breastfeeding Week was created and is now a nationally recognized awareness week during National Breastfeeding Month. Many cities across the U.S. now celebrate celebrate Black Breastfeeding Week!
I know for me personally, it is very uplifting to know that there are organizations like the Black Mothers’ Breastfeeding Association (BMBA) who are very willing to help me on my breastfeeding journey.
Now when I moved to Detroit in March 2015, I was 8 months pregnant with my fourth baby
(Zechariah). I had planned on exclusively breastfeeding my baby, but unfortunately he was not able to latch on. So instead I exclusively pumped my breastmilk for him. I pumped for nine months and eventually my milk supply was very low and I had to start supplementing my milk supply.
At the time I was breastfeeding Zechariah, I did not know about the Black Mothers Breastfeeding Association. I really wish I would have known so I could have reached out to get more support for breastfeeding my son. But now that I know about BMBA, I want to share this wonderful organization with all mothers who are currently breastfeeding or who may be pregnant and are thinking about breastfeeding.
On Saturday, August 27, 2016, my husband and I had the amazing opportunity to attend the Black Mothers’ Breastfeeding Summit at the Charles H. Wright African American Museum in Detroit. I had the privilege of meeting with Kiddada Green, one of the co-creators of Black Breastfeeding Week. She was very gracious in answering a few questions for me about Black Breastfeeding Week and the Black Mothers’ Breastfeeding Association.
Green believes it is important to recognize Black mothers and fathers and “uplift and recognize their worth.” With so many negative depictions in the media of African American people, it is important to show the world the positives of Black people, especially in parenting.
GLD: Why do you feel it’s important to inform Black mothers, and Black parents in general, about breastfeeding?
KG: This particular event [Black Breastfeeding Week] is really about celebrating those who do breastfeed, and really making them feel like you’re not breastfeeding in isolation. Black women do breastfeed their children and let’s come together as a community. I always look at food as communal. We want women to know that feeding is social. Food is communal and let’s do this together.
GLD: After Black Breastfeeding Week is over, what can we do as a community to support Black mothers who breastfeed?
KG: We definitely use this week as an opportunity for recognition and bringing light to that. Black Mothers’ Breastfeeding Association we do work all year round. We have community-based Doulas and community-based peer counselors that are free. We have our signature work Black Mothers’ Breastfeeding Club which is here in Detroit and it’s really a gathering again of sisterhood, a communal feeding women coming together to celebrate life and enjoy parenting so we have our Black Mothers’ Breastfeeding Club here in Detroit, and it’s also been replicated in Shreveport, Louisiana and in Gaithersburg, Maryland. We invite people who want to continue the celebration to join us on our social network for Black Mothers’ Breastfeeding Association.
“Oh What a Joy!”
Last year’s Baby Lift was called “Lift Every Baby”. in conjunction with Black Breastfeeding Week’s theme, this year’s Baby Lift is called “Oh What a Joy!” Green explained to the parents attending the Black Breastfeeding Summit, “it’s our way of showing our babies matter. It’s an opportunity for us to celebrate our family and the way we nurture our children.” She went on to explain the Baby Lift is a way for parents to come together in unison to uplift our children and recognize their worth.
There are 40 locations signed up for events for Black Breastfeeding Week. If you would like to find out if there are any events in your local area, you can see the cities and organizations who have registered their events on the official Black Breastfeeding Week website and facebook page.
Special thanks to Kiddada Green for taking the time to answer my questions about Black Breastfeeding Week and the annual Baby Lift celebration! I am very grateful for the opportunity to attend the Black Breastfeeding Summit in Detroit.
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*9/2/2016: An earlier version of my post had incorrect titles of Kiddada Green, Kimberely Seals Allers, and Anayah Sangodele-Ayoka. This post has been updated with the correct titles.