The Genesis of a Breastfeeding Celebration by Kiddada Green

For 9 years, Black Mothers’ Breastfeeding Association® (BMBFA) has celebrated the joys of breastfeeding families and continues to work daily to reduce racial inequities in breastfeeding support for African Americans.  Like many charitable organizations, the impetus for the work began with a passion- a passion for communities, health and justice.

This year, we are excited to continue uplifting families and communities by observing Black Breastfeeding Week’s 4th Annual Celebration, “Oh, What a Joy!” Between August 25-31, we will be joining in celebration with families across the nation.  All are invited to join with their families, communities, and local and national organizations to celebrate black life, black families and chocolate milk.  Find out how at www.blackbreastfeedingweek.org. #BBW16 #BlackBFJoy.

On behalf of the mothers, babies and families of BMBFA, and in keeping with this year’s Black Breastfeeding Week theme, “Oh, What a Joy!” I wanted to share our joys over the years.

Homage in 2007: BMBFA is founded by Kiddada Green, Doris Jordan and Debbie Clark

Black Mother’s Breastfeeding Association (BMBFA) is a non-profit organization, with a mission is to reduce racial inequities in breastfeeding support for African Americans by building foundational networks of support, and strengthening systems to overcome historical, societal and social barriers to breastfeeding success. Our goal is to have a national impact on the reduction of racial disparities in breastfeeding success for African Americans.  We do so by providing education, valuable resources and ongoing support to African American families and public/private agencies that service these families. Currently, I act as BMBFA’s executive director.  Doris Jordan sits on the Board of Directors and Debbie Clark continues her work in the field of healthcare.

Activity in 2008: BMBFA launches what is now known as our signature work, Black Mothers’ Breastfeeding Club® (BMBFC)

Black Mothers’ Breastfeeding Club is a FREE mother-led breastfeeding support group that meets in a community setting.  Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers come together for fellowship, sisterhood and breastfeeding support. To date, BMBFC has been replicated in Detroit, MI, Shreveport, LA and Gaithersburg, MD.

This same year, BMBFA held its first breastfeeding seminar titled, “Breastfeeding: How to Reach the Goals of ‘Healthy People 2010’ in Minority Communities”.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ comprehensive, nationwide health promotion and disease prevention blueprint challenged individuals, communities, and professionals, to take specific steps to ensure that good health is attainable by all.  BMBFA took that challenge, and purposefully designed the seminar to highlight the importance of making a targeted accelerated approach to improving breastfeeding rates for black families.

Growth in 2009: BMBFA is blazing trails throughout the nation with the launch of its workshop series

The workshops originated due to a need expressed by professionals in the maternal-child health field.  Agencies sought trainings that would give culturally appropriate and relevant strategies, information and applicable skills to their employees to address cultural-specific breastfeeding nuances.  To date, BMBFA has contracted with the U.S. Office of Women’s Health and many local and state health departments, including: Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Louisville, Michigan, Ohio and Ramsey County, Minnesota, to name a few.

Recognition in 2010: The U.S. Surgeon General calls on BMBFA for its expertise in community-centered and mother-led, peer breastfeeding support

BMBFA leadership served as expert advisor providing recommendations for the 2011 U.S. Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding.

Working it in 2011: BMBFA continues its work to restore the emotional, psychological and physical health of its community by reclaiming an African tradition of breastfeeding

By this time, BMBFA had serviced hundreds of families through Black Mothers’ Breastfeeding Club, and hundreds more professionals through its workshop series.

Honor in 2012: BMBFA receives noteworthy support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to help eliminate breastfeeding disparities in African American families

This support helped BMBFA hire its first 3 employees and continue its mission-driven work.

Collaboration in 2013: BMBFA joins forces with breastfeeding advocates to launch the first Black Breastfeeding Week

Serving as BMBFA’s executive director, I joined forces with Kimberly Seals Allers and Anayah Sangodele to launch the first Black Breastfeeding Week.

The week launched with celebratory local community events and an online social media celebration, reaching more than 1.5 million people.

BMBFA’s capacity to serve mothers and families had grown tremendously through our peer counselor home-visiting program by replicating HealthConnect One’s Breastfeeding Peer Counselor model. ,

Soaring in 2014: Black Breastfeeding Week’s second year

BMFBA adds a community-based doula program. Together, the community-based doulas and breastfeeding peer counselors serviced 137 families and completed 513 home visits.

Victory in 2015: BMBFA focuses on community advocacy

BMBFA collaborated with Mothering Justice, Mocha Manual, MomsRising, Breastfeeding Mothers Unite and MI State Representative Ericka Geiss to forge a public accountability campaign against a for-profit milk bank company that sought out to exploit low-income black mothers of Detroit for their breast milk. After securing more than 600 petition signatures asking the company’s representatives to answer questions and to meet with mothers, activists, and lawmakers in Detroit about their plans to target low-income African American mothers and buy their breast milk, and then sell it at a markup, the company announced that it would retire its campaign.

 Later that year, communities around the country celebrated the third annual Black Breastfeeding Week, “Lift Every Baby ”

Oh, What a Joy! in 2016

It’s been a long, exciting, and joyous road to get to where we are today, and we are looking forward to the future. Find out how to get involved with Black Breastfeeding Week by visiting www.blackbreastfeedingweek.org for information about community events in key cities and other activities throughout the month. #BBW16 #BlackBFJoy

Originally published at Medela Moments.

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