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African American Breastfeeding Network addresses maternal-child health care disparities

Posted at 6:52 PM, Feb 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-03 19:52:26-05

MILWAUKEE — The United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha's Racial Equity Fund is making donations to 11 Black- and Brown-led organizations. The African American Breastfeeding Network (AABN) is one of those organizations.

AABN began working 13 years ago to create breastfeeding equity for families in Milwaukee.

"Breastfeeding equity simply means that all women regardless of ethnicity, race, sexuality, income have access to breastfeeding services," Executive Director Dalvery Blackwell said.

But achieving breastfeeding equity starts before the baby is even born.

"Prenatal support provides better outcomes and breastfeeding initiation in the hospital," Blackwell said. "Breastfeeding initiation right now for people of color is around 58-60%, and for Caucasians it's about 70% so there's a disparity."

At AABN, expecting parents are connected with peer counselors and lactation consultants to support them through breastfeeding.

"Peer-to-peer support is considered a national best practice by the world health organization and CDC, so it's really important that we support women and people of color who are interested in lactation to serve the community," Blackwell said.

Ultimately, breastfeeding support not only helps moms, but babies as well.

"We know that breastfeeding is the best sources of nutrition for babies and young children. It has all the vitamins, all the nutrition a baby needs," Blackwell explained.

In addition to supportive services, AABN also holds baby supply drives to make sure families and the communities have what they need to be prepared for the arrival of a new baby.

Blackwell said the funds her organization received from the United way will help them focus on strategic planning and capacity growth. AABN plans on working with at least 120 family this year.

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