Note: This article on Black breastfeeding support groups includes images of breastfeeding.
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.
But in America, Black women have the lowest breastfeeding rates of any racial group—and they breastfeed for the shortest amount of time, according to 2015 data from the CDC.
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.
But what if you’re the first friend to get pregnant, and don’t have anyone to ask? What if your family isn’t supportive of you breastfeeding?
Do what modern parents have done since time immemorial (a.k.a. when Google was invented): Go online and join a community for breastfeeding Black moms and parents.
Yes, you can read books on breastfeeding and find lactation professionals, but sometimes you want to talk to or just see someone who is in the trenches with you. Or a veteran who can look back and say, “You got this, sis” when you’re experiencing physical (hello, cracked, bleeding nipples and sleep deprivation) and emotional (Am I doing this right? Am I failing my child?) issues around breastfeeding.
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.”
We have a list of some breastfeeding support groups you can find on Facebook and Instagram, and in the real world. We hope these spaces help you on your journey.
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.”