Celebrating Black Breastfeeding Week

Celebrating! At the Compton WIC Center and throughout the country, thousands of breastfeeding moms and families—maybe more–are celebrating Black Breastfeeding Week.

Reducing Black infant death The national awareness event Black Breastfeeding Week was created by three women to help reduce such racial disparities as more Black infants dying than others, and lower breastfeeding rates among African American women.

The week falls within National Breastfeeding Month and runs from August 25 to 31.

Improving breastfeeding rates The Compton WIC parents participate monthly in the Compton WIC African American Breastfeeding Family Group. The group was formed by Janice Ahana to encourage African American women to breastfeed and to improve the breastfeeding rates of African American women at the Compton WIC Center, where a large number of African American women are enrolled.

Facilitator Janice Ahana, a registered dietitian nutritionist and lactation expert, facilitates this family group.

“Black women do breastfeed” Ahana aims to reverse the misconception that Black women don’t breastfeed. “Black women do breastfeed,” she said.

Challenges moms face Many Black pregnant women have rarely if ever seen another woman breastfeed. Many of their own mothers never breastfed.

There are a number of reasons for this. One reason is the message given by formula companies: formula is a substitute for mothers milk. This concept was accepted by many people, including mothers of all races and ethnicities. Feeding babies formula became the norm.

This has led to fewer Black women breastfeeding and lack of support from the women in the family.

Breastfeeding Family Group By establishing the Compton WIC African American Breastfeeding Family Group, Ahana is working to counter these challenges and make them problems of the past. Since its inception this past February, the breastfeeding group has grown from five members to more than 20. The group meets the second Wednesday of each month from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Valuable discussions A wide variety of breastfeeding and parenting topics are discussed. Questions to ask during hospital tours, the size of a baby’s stomach, colostrum, breast pumps, premature infants, minimizing a baby’s crying, how often to breastfeed, what to do about sore nipples, how to assist a baby latch correctly. And more.

Why breastfeed? Group members discuss the reasons for breastfeeding. “Breastfeeding is beneficial for both mother and baby, and extends beyond providing nutrition for the baby,” Ahana stated. “Breastmilk has antibodies and live cells to protect the infant against infections, for example.”

Power of breastmilk Breastmilk is a natural preventative medicine that reduces the risk of diet-related diseases such as upper respiratory infections, Type II diabetes, asthma, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and childhood obesity.

Black infants more likely to die “It is very important that African American women breastfeed to give Black infants a healthy start in life through breastmilk,” Ahana said. “Research has shown that Black infants are twice and even three times as likely to die during their first year as other babies.”

Dangers for preemies If a premature infant is in an NICU, it is important that the mother pump her breast milk to feed her baby as soon as she is able to, Ahana said. “Premature babies are susceptible to infections such as necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), sepsis, and viral infections.”

Janice Ahana In addition to her role as a lactation consultant, Ahana is a registered dietitian nutritionist. She meets one-on-one with Compton WIC parents of all ethnicities to discuss various health issues that can be positively impacted by nutritious foods. She discusses special diets that can improve health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and many others.

Special opportunities For Janice Ahana, the Black Breastfeeding Week provides special opportunities.

Celebrating together The Compton WIC African American family group has partnered with two other Black breastfeeding advocacy groups, Lactation Lioness and Soul Food for Your Baby. Their members are joining Compton WIC’s African American families in celebrating Black Breastfeeding Week.

Solidarity “Our Compton breastfeeding mothers and pregnant women have the opportunity to surround themselves with women from other groups who are like them, to create a bond, build confidence and show solidarity,” Ahana said. She hopes the celebration is motivating those who have experienced setbacks with breastfeeding.

WIC breastfeeding services The Compton WIC Center and all our 11 WIC centers provide a wide array of breastfeeding services. Among these are one-on-one counseling for pregnant mothers, mothers who have already given birth, their partners and others in their support systems. Also included are Mama’s Milk family support groups, group education, the assistance of breastfeeding peer counselors, consultation under special circumstances with lactation experts, the Breastfeeding Helpline, and assistance with breast pumps.

Location The Compton WIC Center is located at 130 E. Compton Blvd., Compton 90221.

Hours of operation Our hours of operation are Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. The center is also open one Saturday each month.

WIC eligibility Are you eligible for WIC? Find out!>>

Phone us! For more information, phone (310) 661-3080.