Celebrate Black Breastfeeding Week!

Celebrating At WIC, we are celebrating National Black Breastfeeding Week 2020 Tuesday, August 25st, through Monday, August 31st. For Johnette Hardwick, every day is Black Breastfeeding Day.

Johnette Hardwick Johnette Hardwick is a WIC nutrition and lactation educator who serves WIC parents at the Compton WIC Center.

Plans to breastfeed Nearly every pregnant Black woman who comes to the Compton WIC Center intends to breastfeed her baby, she says.

Our moms
“They know that breast milk has far more nutrients than formula. That breastmilk helps make a baby’s immune system stronger, which means fewer trips to the doctor. And that babies’ brains develop better.”

Bonding African American moms tell Hardwick how important it is that they bond well with their newborn infants. They know that one of the greatest benefits of breastfeeding is the bonding between mother and baby.

Easy? “Being successful at breastfeeding isn’t always easy. We call it ‘10/90.’ It’s easy for 10% of moms and babies to breastfeed. The other 90% really have to work at it.”

Looking ahead That’s where Hardwick comes in. She helps her WIC moms anticipate those first few hours in the hospital. “Moms need to tell their nurses that during the ‘Golden Hour,’ the hour immediately after the birth, they want their naked baby placed directly on their skin. This is called ‘skin-to-skin’. It won’t take long before the baby instinctively seeks her nipple.”

Concerns and questions Hardwick listens to WIC parents’ concerns and answers their questions. She tells them about babies’ tiny stomachs and why a baby needs to nurse every one-to-two hours.

Being comfortable “M any moms tell me how worried they are that breastfeeding will be painful. But it doesn’t have to be.” Hardwick teaches them that if they position the baby correctly, the baby will latch on well, and breastfeeding will be comfortable.

Especially valuable Breastfeeding is particularly beneficial for premature infants and for low-birthweight infants.

Preemies The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that in 2018, the rate of preterm birth among African-American women (14%) was about 50 percent higher than the rate of preterm birth among white women (9%).

Low birthweight Low birthweight was more than twice as high for non-Hispanic black infants as for non-Hispanic white infants from 2006 to 2016, according to the CDC.

Health disparities Rates of preterm birth, low birthweight and infant mortality are significantly greater for black non-Hispanic infants than for white infants, whether Hispanic or not, according to the March of Dimes.

Especially important Success at breastfeeding is especially important for premature and low-birthweight-babies. Premature infants have a far easier time digesting breastmilk than formula, for example, says Johnette Hardwick.

Digestive systems “Preemies have very sensitive digestive systems. Sometimes their digestive systems aren’t even fully developed.”

Premature baby When a woman’s baby is born prematurely, Hardwick can teach her to breastfeed successfully. “I’ve helped many mothers of babies,” she says.

Concerned Many parents are concerned about their babies’ low weight, whether the infant was born early or simply born underweight. Hardwick teaches mothers special breastfeeding techniques so that the breastmilk their babies receive contains extra fat and calories.

Breastfeeding expert and mother Johnette Hardwick is a certified lactation educator, and more.

Normal and natural Until Hardwick became a WIC staff member, she thought all Black mothers breastfed. Her mother and aunt had breastfed their babies, and she saw her cousins breastfeed. To her, this was the normal and natural thing to do.

Different breastfeeding experiences She was a “WIC mom” from the time she became pregnant with her first child until her third child turned 5 years old. She breastfed all three children. One baby daughter weaned herself when she was 6 months old. She was able to exclusively breastfeed her son until he was one and a half years old.

Different situations With her first, she was able to stay home for a year. With her second, she needed to go back to work when the baby turned 6 weeks old.

Pregnant women and mothers The pregnant women and mothers at the Compton WIC Center benefit from Hardwick’s wealth of personal experience as well as her academic lactation education and her experience counseling parents.

WIC breastfeeding services WIC provides additional assistance for breastfeeding mothers: a breastfeeding helpline, and breast pumps for moms who work or have premature babies. During COVID-19, WIC continues to provide all services by phone.

11 WIC centers South Los Angeles Health Projects administers WIC programs in 11 locations, including four in the City of Los Angeles.

Beginning to enroll To enroll in WIC, phone (310) 661-3080 or click on Apply today! on this website.