African American Mothers’ Decision to Discontinue Breastfeeding and Switch to Formula

Breastfeeding is best for babies. But African American mothers, breastfeed less and for shorter periods of time, than any other ethnic group. This study looked for some of the reasons. After initiating breastfeeding, some African American mothers find adjusting to the demands challenging and discontinue breastfeeding. We identified four key themes that reflect personal, behavioral, and environmental factors: (1) simplicity of formula, (2) diverse support networks, (3) early breastfeeding is most important, and (4) lack of access to breastfeeding support resources. 

Why is This Important: Some of the reasons may surprise you and have to do with our culture and lack of organized support for breastfeeding in our community. I have been faced many times with the notion that it is only important to breastfeed for the first few months. Not to mention the many social determinants that prevent so many African American mothers from breastfeeding. We are seeing a steady increase in breastfeeding among African American women. With the shortage of formula, that is a very good thing.

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