When a 22-year-old student at North Carolina Central University, who spoke with RH Reality Check about her experiences as a parent, needs to breastfeed or pump on campus, she has to go to her car. That’s because, she says, there are no designated spaces for her to express breast milk on the historically Black campus that serves about 8,500 students.
By now, many of us know the benefits of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding provides all the necessary nutrients a child needs, and breastfed babies experience fewer infections and illnesses. Not to mention breastfeeding is cheaper than buying formula.
Unfortunately, Black women in the United States statistically are less likely to breastfeed than their white counterparts. Studies show that Black women initiate breastfeeding with their children at a rate of 58.9 percent, whereas it is 75.2 percent for white women.
While many Black women do breastfeed, some unapologetically so, there is a running list as to why other Black mothers choose not to. For one, Black mothers are less likely to be encouraged by hospitals to breastfeed, typically the first point of contact for breastfeeding education. And many Black mothers are in under-resourced communities, where breastfeeding is discouraged or just outright impossible due to a lack of support.