Ayanna Robinson, MPH, PhD
Founder, Black Girls Breastfeeding Club
Why We Exist
Breast milk is the recommended source for infant nutrition, as stated by the World Health Organization, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and other national and international health organizations. Breastfeeding rates continue to rise among African American mothers. However, disparities in breastfeeding outcomes still exist. At the same time, breastfeeding protects against many illnesses and chronic diseases that African Americans are disproportionately affected by, including SIDS, heart disease, diabetes, childhood obesity, asthma, breast and ovarian cancers, and more.
Breastfeeding initiation and duration are influenced by factors at the individual, interpersonal, and community levels, as well as factors like cultural and societal norms and policies. Increasing breastfeeding rates among African American women therefore requires education, support, and policies that address the needs of breastfeeding women at each level within a social-ecological model. Ultimately, increasing breastfeeding rates among African American mothers can improve the health outcomes for Black mothers and their children.
Black Girls' Breastfeeding Club was founded by a mother and public health scientist. We promote breastfeeding and informed infant feeding decisions among African American women through research, education, resources and by centering the breastfeeding experiences of Black mothers.
I. Provide culturally relevant breastfeeding information and resources to African American women and girls
Providing breastfeeding information to Black women and girls helps to improve breastfeeding attitudes. Positive breastfeeding attitudes can, in turn, increase the likelihood that mothers will breastfeed in the future. Through education, we also seek to explore historical and social factors that influence breastfeeding decisions among Black women, unpacking imagery and narratives applied to Black women and giving voice to narratives that counter stereotypes.
Furthermore, since decisions about breastfeeding are often made during the early stages of pregnancy and before pregnancy, it is important to educate African American girls and all women of childbearing age on the importance of breastfeeding.
II. Promote positive cultural breastfeeding norms among African American women and girls
Women are more likely to breastfeed when they know other women who breastfeed. Through our online platform, social media platform, and community events, we uplift and highlight the experiences of African American breastfeeding mothers. It is our hope that in providing spaces for breastfeeding mothers of diverse identities to share their journeys, we can inspire future generations of breastfeeding mothers.