Did you know that there was a Black Breastfeeding Week? It's true! The event is actually in its ninth year, and according to its official site, the theme for this year is "The Big Rest." "This week BBW honors the need for rest. We hope to inspire you to create #BBW21 events that speak to the power of rest in our lives and movement," the organization says on its official site. 

Unfortunately, however, there is a racial disparity component in breastfeeding. 

According to the CDC, Black women have the lowest breastfeeding initiation rate of all racial groups and the shortest breastfeeding duration, making Black babies the least likely to be breastfed. The CDC recommends that breastfeeding is the best source of nutrition for most infants and it can also reduce the risk for certain health conditions for both infants and mothers. The CDC also reports that Black infants are 15 percent less likely to have ever been breastfed than White infants.

These disparities are caused by the entrenched structural barriers to breastfeeding that Black mothers face, including a lack of support and guidance from the medical system, workplaces, friends, and family, a lack of diversity in the lactation field, and other social stigmas. 

Black Breastfeeding Week was established to celebrate Black mothers and address their unique challenges and experiences with breastfeeding.

These disparities are caused by the entrenched structural barriers to breastfeeding that Black mothers face, including a lack of support and guidance from the medical system, workplaces, friends and family, a lack of diversity in the lactation field, and other social stigmas. Black Breastfeeding Week was established to celebrate Black mothers and address their unique challenges and experiences with breastfeeding. 

In response to this disparity, Willow — a company that has created a leak-proof, "smart" breast pump, and the only one on the market — has just announced that they're doing anything but resting. In a press release announcement, it was revealed that earlier today, the company announced its Lactation Consultant Equity Project as part of its support for Black Breastfeeding Week. 

Willow will provide scholarships to prospective lactation consultants to improve diversity in the lactation field and support moms of color to increase breastfeeding initiation and duration.

“We’ve seen the breastfeeding rate for Black women increase from 15 percent to 39 percent when supported by a lactation consultant,” said Willow Chief Executive Officer, Laura Chambers, in the press release announcement. “Yet women of color are more likely to experience racism and discrimination in the healthcare system. We believe that Lactation consultants of color are the best providers of care for mothers of color. We hope the Willow Lactation Consultant Equity Project will help address the structural barriers creating a lack of diversity in the lactation field and ultimately better support Moms of color and their babies.”

Willow’s Lactation Consultant Equity Project will cover the International Board Certified Lactation Consultants exam fees, which are $660 per exam. By establishing this scholarship fund, Willow is helping to eliminate significant financial barriers and expand diversity within the industry. Interested prospective lactation consultants must apply by September 30, 2021.

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