Many black women are also unaware that breast-feeding is linked with benefits for both mothers and infants, she said. Breast milk provides babies with disease-fighting antibodies, while moms who breast-feed are at lower risk for breast cancer later on. The practice also fosters mother-child bonding.
Micky Jones, a Nashville, Tenn., La Leche League leader and doula, or labor coach, also believes that good role models are lacking.
"You don't desire something you don't see," she said. "In the black community, you don't see a lot of black women breast-feeding."
But that is slowly changing, said this black mother, who breast-fed her three children. For a time, Jones also wrote a blog about breast-feeding for black women. Since then, others have spread the word to the black community about breast-feeding's benefits, she said.
What's needed, the authors concluded, are coordinated efforts to educate mothers and their families about breast-feeding's benefits and clarify misinformation and myths.
For instance, new moms need to know that exclusive formula-feeding poses risks, she said.
Jones suggests that black women considering breast-feeding get support from a friend or family member who has nursed a baby. Ask around, she advised.
"Sometimes that [information] comes out at baby showers," she added.
To learn more about breast-feeding, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
SOURCES: Amudha Palaniappan, M.D., resident, pediatrics, Cooper University Hospital, Camden, N.J.; Lori-Feldman-Winter, M.D., M.P.H., division head of adolescent medicine, Cooper University Hospital, Camden, N.J.; presentation, American Academy of
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