USC team launches Mocha Mama’s Milk to promote breastfeeding among Black moms 

Researchers at the College of Nursing aim to improve breastfeeding rates among Black mothers with a virtual support group.

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A research team at the University of South Carolina College of Nursing is launching a program to promote breastfeeding among Black mothers in the Midlands area of the state.

Mocha Mama’s Milk is a virtual breastfeeding support group founded by Tisha Felder, a behavioral scientist, and Joynelle Jackson, a maternal child nurse, according to the Post and Courier.

The group hopes to improve rates of breastfeeding among Black mothers. The report notes that, according to the CDC, 66% of Black mothers initiate breastfeeding compared with 82.8% of white mothers and more than 90% of Asian mothers.

The report notes that, according to the CDC, 66% of Black mothers initiate breastfeeding compared with 82.8% of white mothers and more than 90% of Asian mothers. (Adobe Stock Image)

“Women just aren’t quite educated enough about breastfeeding,” Jackson told the Post and Courier. “We think of breasts like they’re personal, they’re mine and I’m not sharing this with anybody. But what it can produce is amazing, and you’re not doing it forever.”

Breastfeeding is widely considered beneficial for both mothers and their infants. Mothers’ milk can reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome and can reduce cancer risks for moms.

“Particularly for Black women, there is an important reduction in the risk of very aggressive breast cancers,” Felder told the Post and Courier in touting the benefits of breastfeeding.

Mocha Mama’s Milk aims to educate women on the importance of breastfeeding and to create safe spaces for them to ask questions and seek support.

Researchers said there are a number of barriers that have Black women breastfeeding at lower rates than other women. Felder posited that the history of enslavement may have created some negative associations, and that a lack of peer and family support and the challenge of navigating work and breastfeeding may also play a role.

Lt. Brittany Jackamonis of the Richland County Sheriff’s Department in Columbia spoke to the news outlet about work-life balance as a breastfeeding mom. “The sacrifice is real,” Jackamonis said. “Work-life balance with a breastfed baby is definitely something you have to mentally prepare for.”

But, she added, “It’s so worth it.”

“At the end of the day, the reward to see that your child is flourishing and getting the nutrition that they need, you can’t explain it. It can really be a lot on you sometimes, but it’s something you’ll never get back.”

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