Preparing for Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is natural, but still requires education, practice, and support. This resource provides guidance on preparing for breastfeeding and highlights breastfeeding products and services created by Black women to help you along your journey.

 

Breastfeeding Education
 

Prenatal breastfeeding education is recommended during the third trimester of pregnancy.  Studies suggest that Black mothers are usually knowledgeable about the benefits of breastfeeding, but need more practical information on how to breastfeed and how to overcome challenges. Pregnant mothers who receive breastfeeding education are also more likely to breastfeed, so attending a class is a great way to start preparing for your breastfeeding journey.

 

There are a variety of ways to access in person and virtual prenatal breastfeeding education classes, including through your hospital. Certified lactation specialists offer breastfeeding classes and birth workers, like doulas, can provide breastfeeding education to clients as well. In addition to reviewing the benefits of breastfeeding, look for classes that include the following information:

  • guidance about unanticipated situations,

  • signs of effective breastfeeding,

  • correct latching positions,

  • resources to help with problems, and

  • address common fears, concerns, problems, and myths 

African American mothers are more likely to initiate and continue breastfeeding when they have support from their partner and from the maternal grandmother, so invite your partner to attend classes with you, if possible.

Breastfeeding Initiation

Tell your doctor and other birth professionals about your plans to breastfeed. When delivering in a hospital setting, make sure the hospital staff are also aware of your decision as well, including plans to breastfeed exclusively.  Introduction of formula in hospitals is associated with shorter term breastfeeding duration. Black mothers more often report being offered formula samples and this can also undermine a mother's confidence in her ability to breastfeed.

 

On the other hand, skin to skin contact after birth, breastfeeding as soon as possible after birth, and rooming in (mother and infant staying in the same hospital room day and night) are all practices that will help you bond early with your baby and have a solid start to breastfeeding. Check to see if you are delivering at a Baby Friendly facility, which have evidence-based standards for mother/baby care practices related to infant feeding.

Breastfeeding Supplies and Accessories 

Listed below are items to consider as you prepare for breastfeeding, as well as, Black owned brands and businesses that create breastfeeding resources and supplies.

  • Nursing bras

  • Nursing pads. CooperRose is a black-owned natural parenting brand. Among other products, they make organic nursing pads that are breathable and soft.

  • Breast pump. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), insurance companies must cover the cost of a breast pump. More information on receiving a free breast pump through the ACA is available here. 

  • Breast milk storage bags

  • Nipple cream

  • Nursing pillow

Other breastfeeding supplies and educational tools created by Black women:

  • Queen & Baby Box . Black mothers are more likely to return to work at eight weeks postpartum and returning to work remains a commonly cited reason for ending breastfeeding earlier than desired. Queen & Baby Box provides breastfeeding moms with a curated box of breastfeeding supplies, including milk storage bags, soothing wipes, and nursing pads for a smooth transition back into the work place.

Breastfeeding Support

Having a supportive environment is a key factor in meeting your breastfeeding goals. Are there other breastfeeding mothers in your social network? Do you know other mothers that breastfed? 

 

Unfortunately, African American mothers have reported receiving less breastfeeding counseling and support from healthcare providers, which further underscores the importance of building a supportive network of providers and peers. Mothers are also more likely to breastfeed when they know other breastfeeding mothers. There is a large village of Black mothers who breastfeed and they are ready to assist you along your journey, so consider joining an online or in person breastfeeding support group (Check out our directory of breastfeeding support groups for Black mothers). Also, ask your provider for referrals for lactation consultants if you experience challenges and need additional support. 

Additional Breastfeeding Resources

1. Office of Women's Health. Your Guide to Breastfeeding. https://www.womenshealth.gov/files/documents/your-guide-to-breastfeeding.pdf

References

Burton, M. & Heggie, P. (2020) In-Hospital Formula Feeding and Breastfeeding Duration. Pediatrics. https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2019-2946

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2013). Strategies to Prevent Obesity and Other Chronic Diseases: The CDC Guide to Strategies to Support Breastfeeding Mothers and Babies.

Johnson, A., Kirk, R., Rosenblum, K. L., & Muzik, M. (2015). Enhancing breastfeeding rates among African American women: a systematic review of current psychosocial interventions. Breastfeed Med, 10(1), 45-62. doi:10.1089/bfm.2014.0023 

Reeves, E. A., & Woods-Giscombe, C. L. (2015). Infant-feeding practices among African American women: social-ecological analysis and implications for practice. J Transcult Nurs, 26(3), 219-226. doi:10.1177/1043659614526244

©2020 by Black Girls' Breastfeeding Club, LLC.