The Office on Women’s Health has launched a new initiative aimed at women of color. “It’s Only Natural” encourages African-American women and their families to consider breastfeeding after giving birth.
Most families realize the benefits of breastfeeding. Almost all women in the United States breastfeed their children according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but the statistics are lower for African-American women. The Office on Women’s Health found the breastfeeding rate is 55 percent among African-American women, which is up from the 35 percentile in the 1970s. However, this percentage is lower than the rates of other races and ethnicities. It decreases further for women living in the Southern region, according to the CDC.
Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin hopes “It’s Only Natural” reminds black American women of the importance of breastfeeding.
“One of the most highly effective preventive measures a mother can take to protect the health of her infant and herself is to breastfeed,” Benjamin said in a press release. “By raising awareness, the success rate among mothers who want to breastfeed can be greatly improved through active support from their families, their friends and the community.”
“It’s Only Natural” encourages breastfeeding by funding support groups and research about its benefits, offering scientific fact sheets, and dispelling rumors through testimonials. The public education campaign also promotes the positives of breastfeeding by explaining the economic benefits for mothers.
The United States Department of Agriculture reports more than $3 billion could be saved if more women breastfed. Breastfeeding also cuts costs for new families by eliminating store-bought formula from the budget.
Some women are hesitant to breastfeed for several reasons, including “aggressive formula product marketing; lack of support from family and friends; and insufficient knowledge among medical professionals about breastfeeding techniques and challenges” according to the USDA.
“It’s Only Natural” hopes to reverse these trends through common-sense approaches to breastfeeding.
Families interested in learning more about “It’s Only Natural” can check out the government website.