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Please Come to My Boob-B-Cue This July 4th Weekend!

I'm having a Boob-B-Cue this weekend!!  No, I’m not suggesting you whip them out and slap ‘em on the grill with a zesty marinade—Sheesh that would hurt!

But while you’re tossing those burgers on the grill and devouring those tasty hot dogs, ribs, or veggie kebabs, I’m asking that you also chew on this: the latest breastfeeding map shows a state-by-state rundown on where women are breastfeeding at 12 months. And the map ain’t pretty.

I’m saying that while we are thinking about and chomping down lots of food this weekend, let’s marinade over “the first food”—breastmilk, and how we can serve that up in heartier portions across the country.

According to recent CDC data, none of the 50 states are doing that well. With the exception of Vermont, which leads the country with a 39.7 percent rate of breastfeeding moms at 12 months. Oregon came in second with 39.6%.

The rest of us have a lot of work to do—especially in our communities, where historically our breastfeeding rates have lagged significantly for over 30 years.  And  let’s face it, neither Vermont or Oregon have particularly high black or brown populations.

On the other hand, the state coming in with the lowest 12 month breastfeeding rates in the country at a paltry 8%  is….(wait for it) … Mississippi—a state with a 38% African American population—the largest percentage in the country. (New York has most blacks by number)

 In fact, most of the lower percentage states were in the South.

 Second to last, was Louisiana at 9.8% — a state where we comprise 33% of the population.

 Third from last is South Carolina at 12%— where blacks are 29% of the population.

 You get the idea. See what your state breastfeeding rates are.

 We’ve got to get to work, people. 

 Let’s start with a conversation this weekend about what we need to do to change this dynamic in our community.  How can we better support our sisters? How can we remove the cultural barriers?

At a time when the infant mortality rate for black babies is sky high and the maternal mortality rate among black women is sky high, we need to cook up some new ideas about how our boobs can reverse this statistical trend and how to get more moms breastfeeding longer, if they choose.

Breastfeeding has health benefits for mother and baby.

 Last month, I was proud to be named an IATP Food & Community Fellow. My fellowship mission is two-fold: one is to increase awareness and engagement of “the first food” in vulnerable communities. Second, is to integrate breastfeeding and “the first food” into the broader food movement because many of our later food choices are determined by our first foods. 

 Some of the needed change is about improving maternity leave and pushing for more supportive legislature, but much of that (particularly in the black community) is about reversing some cultural mis-truths, creating a supportive environment for mothers who choose to breastfeed and educating our men to be supportive in both word and deed.  At least that’s a starting point. What are your thoughts?

Please  join my Boob-B-Cue by leaving a comment here. I'll be responding all weekend.

Swing by the Boob-B-Que in the twittersphere @MochaManual #thefirstfood and #boobbcue2011 or join us on Facebook to join the Boob-B-Que conversation all weekend.

Let’s toss out ideas, share success “recipes”, nibble on next steps, and share thought-provoking marinades.  


Who’s hungry???

No RSVP or charcoal briquettes required.

It’s going to be deee-licious.

5 Responses to “Please Come to My Boob-B-Cue This July 4th Weekend!”
  1. Congratulations on your Fellowship Award.

    I think a grassroots effort is making a difference. We need more doulas of color/mocha/black to be trained as doulas and breastfeeding included in middle school health classes. Ms. Erykah Badu has accepted the invitation as the National Spokesperson for the International Center for Traditional Childbearing (ICTC). She breastfed all three of her babies beyond one-year. She will be a strong champion in getting the breastfeeding message out. Also ICTC is hosting the SE Black Midwives and Healers Summit, Oct. 14-16, 2011 in D’Iberville, MS, to address low breastfeeding rates, maternal and infant mortality rates and building community leadership to make the difference. We also have a SE ICTC Regional Representative who is working to bring the southern states together to work on this. I hope that you will join us in Mississippi.

    • Kimberly says:

      Shafia, you are so right and you know I am a huge fan and have great respect for the work that you do. Thank you! … and that is great news about Erykah Badu–please let me know what I can do to support her/get the word out about her spokesperson work. And I just LOVE to attend the conference in MS. … Let’s talk next week!!… and thanks for stopping by the boob-b-cue. Always great to “see” you!

  2. Hello Kimberly,

    Once again, thank you for all that you do. By far the most effective tool to impact the number of women in our community that breastfeed is breastfeeding education. I am not just talking about the benefits of breastfeeding for mom and baby. Everyone knows some of the benefits that we hear about all of the time. You will have the wonderful bonding experience with your baby. That is a fact. It is healthier for your baby to be breastfed. You will probably burn extra calories when you breastfeed. Your baby will probably not get an ear infection because he is breastfed. Those are all wonderful things and definately benefits of breastfeeding your baby. Most of us know some, or maybe all of these facts. Unfortunately, many of us that know those facts are also easily seduced by a tv commercial that suggests that formula has immune factors that are almost the same as breastmilk. Combined with being discouraged by your cousin that told you that ” It really hurts” Some things that most moms do not know is: Exclusively breastfeeding your baby for 6mos or more will limit the possibility of mom or baby succumbing to type II diabetes and certain kinds of cancers, including childhood cancers, breast cancer, prostate cancer and the list goes on. Recent research published in the journal Pediatrics concluded that if 90% of US families could comply with medical recommendations to breastfeed exclusively for six months, the US would save $13 billion per year. On an individual family basis, we can save $3,000 if we exclusively breastfeed for 1 year. Additionally, there is evidence that breastfeeding reduces the risk of childhood obesity. This is information from the general populace. A large number of moms from our community comprise those numbers!Because of the terrible numbers involving obesity, First Lady Michelle Obama and Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin are “on the case” encouraging women to breastfeed. We need to launch a serious education campaign. Detailing the most important facts about breastfeeding and teaching ” The Mechanics” of breastfeeding.This is the way to impact the numbers. I saw great results working in the WIC community. Re framing the way the information is disiminated will make a difference!

    Karen W. Bell, IBCLC
    Breast Is Best Lactation Services
    Sanford Florida

    • Kimberly says:

      I agree Karen, even in the information age we have an information problem when it comes to breastfeeding. And because of all the health risks for black babies and black women, we need all the benefits of breastfeeding the most. !! And the “mechanics” are important because think it should be easy and natural when, in fact, there is a techniqe that must be learned by mother and baby. But many view that as “it’s not working” instead of getting a lactation consultant or going to a support group (like I did) for help. Hopefully, with more women sharing their stories, we can create a new truth!

  3. Optimistic Mom says:

    I found your sight be following you on twitter. You have lots of great information.
    Well, I was born and raised in SC, but have lived in the northeast for the last 7 years. I can relate to the information you presented. I breastfed my son for 9 months, it seemed foreign to my family but I pressed on anyway. I believe we need more moms to be supportive of each other. I had a great experience and would do it all over again. It wasn’t easy but worth it to give my son the added benefits.

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