August: A Month for Breastfeeding Awareness
Written by: Tisha Felder
Did you know that August is recognized in the United States and across the world as Breastfeeding Awareness month? Breastfeeding comes in many forms, including nursing, pumping, and feeding at the breast/chest. Public health guidelines state that infants should be exclusively breastfed for 6 months, and following the introduction of foods, continue breastfeeding for up to 24 months or beyond. Each week in August has a unique focus and annual theme:
August 1-7: World Breastfeeding Week: Step up for Breastfeeding – Educate and Support
August 8-14: Indigenous Milk Medicine Week: Strengthening Our Traditions from Birth & Beyond
August 16-24: Asian American Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Breastfeeding Week: Telling Our Own Stories, Elevating Our Voices
August 25-31: Black Breastfeeding Week: 10 years, A New Foundation
While breastfeeding may be a natural and highly recommended process, it is not always easy. As a Black mom of 3, I had a very different breastfeeding experience with each of my children. I breastfed my first for 6 months, second for 7 months, and third for 14 months. With each child, I experienced different challenges, such as fear that I wasn’t making enough milk (which was likely not true!) and pain due to not latching my baby correctly. Despite these challenges, I also learned something new each time that helped me to breastfeed longer. The greatest lessons I learned were to: 1) to get as much breastfeeding information as possible during pregnancy; 2) know that it’s normal and okay to need professional help with breastfeeding; and 3) be sure you have someone in your life who supports your desire to breastfeed—even if that means you need to make a new friend 😊.
Because of my own breastfeeding challenges, I became more personally and professionally interested in helping other Black moms have greater breastfeeding success. Black Breastfeeding Week was created to not only bring awareness to the low rates of breastfeeding among Black families in the U.S. but also, to showcase programs and organizations that are creating solutions. Through our co-led initiative, Mocha Mamas Milk, I am using my personal breastfeeding experience as a mom of 3 and my professional experience as a college professor and researcher to provide breastfeeding research and support opportunities for Black moms in South Carolina. Black Breastfeeding Week is one of our favorite times to host events with Black families in our community. We love to create spaces for Black pregnant and breastfeeding families to come together to support and encourage one another. This year marks a decade of Black Breastfeeding Week, and the theme, “A New Foundation,” will celebrate lactation support that is built on racial equity, community, and collective resistance.
You can join in the celebration by hosting or attending a BBW2022 event or by simply supporting and encouraging the pregnant and breastfeeding Black moms in your life! Happy August!