Note: This article on Black breastfeeding support groups includes images of breastfeeding.
Depending on how your pregnancy goes, one of the first true tests you’ll face as a parent is breastfeeding (if you choose to do so).
Breastfeeding’s benefits for babies and parents is well-documented: It provides optimal nutrition for infants and helps reduce their risk of developing diseases (including ones Black people are more prone to, like asthma and diabetes), and some studies have found that breastfeeding may also help reduce your risk for diseases and postpartum depression.
Along with the physical (hello, cracked, bleeding nipples and sleep deprivation) and emotional (Am I doing this right? Am I failing my child?) issues all breastfeeding and chestfeeding people encounter, we have the added stress of institutional barriers.
We work the most of any racial group and are less likely to have flexible jobs that allow us to pump at work.
Systemic racism in hospitals means we’re less likely to live in areas that have hospitals supportive of nursing and are more likely to have formula pushed on us.
A stigma around breastfeeding that can stem from a number of biases, including our bodies being oversexualized, classist ideas about formula’s superiority, and the idea that breastfeeding is something only white people do.
We would add a fourth reason: A lack of Black breastfeeding support. When we asked the mater mea community what advice they would give about breastfeeding, a number of them suggested getting the support of partners, friends, family, and lactation professionals.
Science backs it up: A 2019 report called “It Takes an E-Village: Supporting African American Mothers in Sustaining Breastfeeding Through Facebook Communities” published in the Journal of Human Lactation stated that “receiving peer support within Facebook communities may positively influence breastfeeding norms and confidence in breastfeeding, help mothers to overcome breastfeeding challenges, and ultimately extend intended breastfeeding duration.”
Here’s a by-no-means-exhaustive list of some support groups you can find on Facebook and Instagram.
1. Black Moms Breastfeeding Support Group
“We are a mom-to-mom breastfeeding support group. We offer encouragement, support, and evidence-based information through community and friendship to help expectant and nursing moms to reach their breastfeeding goals.”
Are you exclusively pumping or having difficulty breastfeeding? You may find the safe, affirming space you need in Black Pumping Mamas.
“This group is for women of color who are looking for support and advice, related to pumping, for their precious little ones. … While nursing mothers are welcomed, the discussion in this group should reflect breastfeeding through pumping, only.”