If you’re currently breastfeeding, then every day probably feels like National Breastfeeding Day for you and your hungry babe, but it turns out, there is a dedicated National Breastfeeding Month, and it's August. To honor the month this year, Krystal Nicole Duhaney — founder of Milky Mama, a company that makes lactation treats which promote breastmilk production — has established the Milky Mama Scholarship Fund. The new fund will pay for the certification courses and exam fees for aspiring Black lactation consultants.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data from 2019 shows that Black women are less likely to breastfeed than white women (75% of white mothers have breastfed in some capacity versus 58.9% of Black mothers). There are many factors that contribute to this racial disparity, one of which is the lack of diversity among lactation consultants.
A 2015 study in the Journal of Breastfeeding Medicine found that, "predictors of low rates of breastfeeding, such as lack of personal support, inadequate access to professional breastfeeding resources, [and] racially biased health care ... contribute to the range of breastfeeding challenges,” The study goes onto to say that although these challenges are not entirely unique to Black mothers, “they are disproportionately prevalent in this group and therefore may contribute to the low breastfeeding rates among African American women.” Other studies have indicated that maternity wards that serve primarily Black populations are, "less likely to offer lactation support following delivery," per PBS.
Duhaney (pictured above) is looking to bridge this gap by bringing personal support and breastfeeding resources to Black parents in the form of more Black lactation consultants. Horrifyingly, the mortality rate for Black infants is 2.3 times the rate for non-Hispanic white infants (according to 2017 data from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services). The hope is that diversifying the lactation sphere will have far-reaching benefits, including better maternal and infant health for Black people.
“As a Black woman and breastfeeding advocate, I am thrilled that we have started the Milky Mama Scholarship Fund," Duhaney, a Registered Nurse, International Board Certified Lactation Counselor, and mother of two said in a press release for the fund. “Having an army of new Black Certified Lactation Consultants will surely help new Black moms successfully navigate their breastfeeding journey and, God willing, save babies’ lives.”
Within National Breastfeeding Month, there are two notable weeks: World Breastfeeding Week which runs from August 1-7, and later, Black Breastfeeding Awareness Week from August 25-31.
Milky Mama will be placing 100% of its online sales from Tuesday, August 25 (the first day of Black Breastfeeding Awareness Week) into the fund. The company is expecting to raise tens of thousands that day towards these educational efforts, per the press release, and even if you're not currently breastfeeding, the Milky Mama lactation treats make great gifts for new moms (plus eating a lactation brownie is way tastier than chugging a Guinness). In addition to the sweet treats, Milky Mama also offers herbal tinctures, breastfeeding accessories, virtual appointments, doula services, and a Breastfeeding 101 course.
The brand will announce the details about how people can submit for the scholarships in September of this year; you can stay tuned on Instagram where Milky Mama will be having 20 giveaways in partnership with other lactations brands throughout the month of August.
Johnson A, et al. (2015). Enhancing Breastfeeding Rates Among African American Women: A Systematic Review of Current Psychosocial Interventions. Journal of Breastfeeding Medicine. DOI: 10.1089/bfm.2014.0023