What No One Tells Black Women About Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is good for mom and baby but stigma and medical discrimination keep many Black women from trying

Nina Bahadur


Photo: LWA/Dann Tardif/Getty Images

After Kimberly Seals Allers gave birth to her son, she went to a local La Leche League meeting to get support from other breastfeeding moms. “But there was nobody who looked like me, and certainly there was nobody who was going back to work like I was,” she told ZORA. “It was really White, and stay-at-home-mother centered.”

Seals Allers says that her breastfeeding journey with her son ended up being much shorter than with her older daughter — she didn’t get advice on how to start weaning her son, or when to start pumping to build up a stash of breast milk. “I did not have the support,” she says. “I did not know people who I could talk to.”

Seals Allers, a journalist, maternal and infant health advocate, and author of The Big Letdown: How Medicine, Big Business, and Feminism Undermine Breastfeeding, says this is one of the many experiences that prompted her to co-found Black Breastfeeding Week (the eighth annual version of the event is happening from August 25–31). The week aims to educate families about breastfeeding and amplify stories and images of Black breastfeeding in order to help make a cultural shift.