On Saturday, August 29, thousands of babies– many of whom cannot even yet walk– will be five, six, maybe even seven feet off the ground! Why?
As a part of National Breastfeeding Month and in celebration of the 3rd annual Black Breastfeeding Week, (and also as a cultural nod to the black national anthem, “Lift Every Voice & Sing”), new moms across the country will make history with “Lift Every Baby,” the first-ever nationally coordinated simultaneous baby “lift up” in cities all across America.
New moms in Atlanta, Detroit, Charlotte and Brooklyn will be uniting in power on the same day around the same time to lift up every baby high in the air! Mothers, fathers and families who believe in the importance of breastfeeding and who believe in breastmilk as the “first food,” intend to participate in what they hope will serve as a symbolic trend of community support, while also spreading the word about the beauty of breastfeeding.
Brooklynites can find lactation stations at the district office of Councilmember Robert Cornegy, the first station to open in Brooklyn; the office of Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and the office of Assemblymember Walter Mosley.
Breastfeeding support groups participating in the “Lift Ups,” scheduled for August 29, at 3:00pm EST/ Noon PST, are choosing a public place, such as a park, and all will raise their babies in a show of solidarity. Sound odd? Well, what could be better than a sea of children exalted all at once amongst families?
“Lift Ups” are a powerful visual demonstration that black families support and cherish their babies and lift them up in many ways, including breastfeeding. Whether your “baby” is 8 months old or 8 years old, if you can lift him or her, bring your family out to the Lift Up!
Here’s information on the “Lift Up” taking place in Brooklyn:
WHO: Brooklyn Breastfeeding Empowerment Zone, Ancient Song Doula Services and several other support organizations
WHAT: Ready, Set, Lift Every Baby!
WHEN: August 29, 2:00pm (gather); 3:00pm lift up
WHERE: Ancient Song Doula Services, 375 Stuyvesant Ave Brooklyn NY 11233
Why do we need a Black Breastfeeding Week? Here are five reasons given by blackbreastfeedingweek.org:
1. The high black infant mortality rate: Black babies are dying at twice the rate (in some place, nearly triple) the rate of white babies. This is a fact. The high infant mortality rate among black infants is mostly to their being disproportionately born too small, too sick or too soon. These babies need the immunities and nutritional benefit of breast milk the most. According to the CDC, increased breastfeeding among black women could decrease infant mortality rates by as much as 50%.
2. High rates of diet-related disease: Breast milk, as the most complete “first food,” has been proven to reduce the risks of upper respiratory infections and Type II diabetes, asthma, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and childhood obesity. These issues are a big problem in communities of color.
3. Lack of diversity in lactation field: It is not debatable that breastfeeding advocacy is white female-led. This is a problem. For one, it perpetuates the common misconception that black women don’t breastfeed. It also means that many of the lactation professionals, though well-intentioned, are not culturally competent, sensitive or relevant enough to properly deal with the unique challenges of African-American moms. This is a week to discuss the lack of diversity among lactation consultants and to change the narrative.
4. Unique cultural barriers among black women: While many of the “booby traps” to breastfeeding are universal, Black women also have unique cultural barriers and a complex history connected to breastfeeding. From their role as wet nurses in slavery being forced to breastfeed and nurture their slave owners’ children, to the lack of mainstream role models and multi-generational support, to stereotyping within the black community, a different dialogue is needed around breastfeeding.
5. Desert-Like Conditions in Black Communities: Many African American communities are “first food deserts”— a term to describe the desert like conditions in many urban areas where women cannot access support for the best first food-breast milk. It is not fair to ask women, any woman, to breastfeed when she lives in a community that is devoid of support. It is a set up for failure.
Join the #WellnessWed chat on Wednesday, Aug. 26, hosted by @MomsRising, @BlkBfingWeek, @HealthConnctOne @MochaManual @BMBFA @NormalizeBfing @Support_ROSE and @USBC. And also, the #LiftEveryBaby Twitter chat on Thursday, August 27, at 9:00pm ET? Co-hosts include @MyBrownBaby @matermea @BlkBfingWeek @BMBFA @MochaManual @HakimBe and giveaways by @Ergobaby with more co-hosts TBA.