U. S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin has announced the launch of "It's Only Natural," a public education campaign to raise awareness among African-American women surrounding the importance of breastfeeding and its associated benefits.
"One of the most highly effective preventive measures a mother can take to protect the health of her infant and herself is to breastfeed," said Surgeon General Benjamin. "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."
Breastfeeding offers mothers and their babies a healthy start, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 80 percent of all women in the United States—regardless of status, race, or income — start out breastfeeding.
Among African-American women, the breastfeeding rate is almost 55 percent — up from just 35 percent in the 1970s. However, while these rates are improving, breastfeeding rates among African-American women remain lower than the rates of other ethnicities in the U.S., particularly among those living in the south.
This gap may indicate that African-American mothers face barriers meeting breastfeeding goals and need additional support to start and continue breastfeeding, and as a result, "It's Only Natural" was also specifically designed to provide materials that reflect the experience of African-American moms.
"It's Only Natural" will equip new moms with practical information and emotional support from peers, as well as tips and education about the benefits of breastfeeding and how to make it work in their own lives. All of the material is uniquely crafted for African-American women.
•video testimonials from new moms talking about the challenges they have overcome, providing breastfeeding tips, sharing their individual stories, and much more;
•articles on a variety of topics ranging from laws supporting breastfeeding to how to fit breastfeeding into your daily life;
•two fact sheets, which contain proper holding and latching techniques, as well as information on managing discomfort and how much milk is enough; and
•radio public service announcements.
To learn more about the campaign, visit www.womenshealth.gov/ItsOnlyNatural.