Lactation consultant highlights importance of equal access for Black mothers
This week is Black Maternal Health awareness week, which highlights an issue many Black mothers face - access to breastfeeding.
Fenda Louisaire is a lactation consultant, but just because she's a professional doesn't mean she always had the answers.
When her baby was in the NICU at Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, she was mainly bottle fed, refusing to latch once they brought her home.
Getting breastfeeding support from the hospital wasn't feasible because of the distance from her Bed-Stuy neighborhood. After finding a support group in her area, she was able to breastfeed her children.
She now provides that support at the same NICU where both her children were admitted and she's a facilitator at Chocolate Milk Cafe in Brooklyn -- an organization that provides a free peer-to-peer breastfeeding support group for families of the African Diaspora.
According to the CDC, black women have the lowest rates of breastfeeding compared to all other racial and ethnic groups, but Louisaire says it's not because Black women don't want to.
"In actuality, the issue is that they don't have access to quality care of access to lactation professionals in their neighborhood," she said.
Tennille Prince says her insurance did not cover lactation support, so she contacted Louisaire.
Louisaire says the chance of developing an illness can have a severe impact on the initiation and duration of breastfeeding, saying if someone were to develop gestational diabetes while pregnant, the likelihood of them becoming a type 2 diabetic later in life significantly increases.
The benefits of breastfeeding are endless, Louisaire said because they can change the trajectory of the health outcomes for their child, too.