Black Breastfeeding Week, now in its 10th year, was created to increase awareness around these disparities and challenges unique to Black moms. With raised awareness and the push toward equity in the maternal health space, breastfeeders are now more likely to initiate and continue breastfeeding than ever before.
But the work is not done and that’s why it’s more important than ever for Black moms and breastfeeders to continue to educate themselves and their village about breastfeeding and the challenges they may face should they choose this path.
For me when I had a gap in my breastfeeding and maternal health knowledge, books became a valuable resource. I’ve always been a reader and a self-directed learner and after becoming a mother, doula, and perinatal mental health specialist it was even more important for me to stay abreast (pun intended) of the happenings. Below are five books written by Black (and white authors) that come highly recommended for Black breastfeeding.
Art Of Breastfeeding
by Diane Wessinger and Diane West
This is a valuable resource written and produced by the La Leche League, an organization originally founded in 1956 by seven mothers that were not finding the support they needed in the medical community to successfully breastfeed. It’s title was revised to be inclusive of all breastfeeders and the text is full of questions and answers to common challenges that moms face when breastfeeding and reminds mothers of the inherent wisdom they hold within their bodies.
Mixed Up: Combination Feeding by Choice or Necessity
by Lucy Ruddle
There is so much rhetoric out there saying that breast milk is the best – and while research shows that breast milk is a perfect food for an infant – it’s not always the most practical for some families. This book is full of the nonjudgmental wisdom you need to help you make the best decision for yourself and your family.
Free to Breastfeed: Voices of Black Mothers
This is the first book to reflect the Black experience of breastfeeding from the mouths of Black mothers. Within these pages, the authors who are black women themselves, share first-account stories of power, healthy strength and success in the realm of breastfeeding among the sisters.
Melanoid Breastmilk: The First Building Blocks to a Strong Family Foundation and Community
The number one reason women initiate and sustain a breastfeeding practice is that they have proper support from the community. Historically we were forced to breastfeed the slave masters’ children and had no bodily autonomy. Learning to breastfeed with no healthy models within the community can be a challenge. This book advocates for breastfeeding for at least 3 years, explains the surprising role of melanin in breastmilk and outlines the impact sustained breastfeeding has on families and Black communities. If you didn’t think your choice to breastfeed was activism, you’ll feel different after reading this book
The Big Letdown: How Medicine, Big Business, and Feminism Undermine Breastfeeding
by Kimberly Seals Allers
I’m always game for a book that talks about conspiracy theories. And this book doesn’t disappoint. Allers who is also the author of the Mocha Manual series and founder of the Irth App takes on medicine and big pharma in this book. Ever wonder why it seems the hospital staff has the bottles ready before the baby even crowns? Is Feminism hurting our breastfeeding rates? Learn it all in this book.
Black mothers are doing it all and doing it well. But we still have a long way to go to reduce maternal and infant mortality and morbidity. As we know breastfeeding is a valuable tool that we can use to help do so. Whether it’s ongoing support from a certified lactation counselor of color, attending events offered through Black Breastfeeding Week, or reading books written by and for black moms we can close the breastfeeding disparity gap in the black community. The power lies within us it always has.