Breastfeeding Group Aims to Reduce Infant Mortality Rate

It’s an alarming fact that in northern New Jersey, Black, non-Hispanic infants are three times as likely to die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) as White, non-Hispanic babies. In a widely-cited 2017 study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, exclusive breastfeeding for at least the first two months of life was found to help reduce the risk of SIDS by 50 percent. With these facts in mind, we partnered with the Perinatal Health Equity Foundation to implement Sistah’s Who Breastfeed (SWB), a breastfeeding support group for women in Jersey City and Paterson who identify as Black.

Members of SWB and their children at a recent meet-up

One of SWB’s main goals is to provide a safe space to initialize important conversations about racial disparities and health equity related to pregnancy and breastfeeding as a Black woman. The group, which has already grown to over 60 members, is facilitated by a Certified Lactation Counselor and meets in various ways to accommodate new mothers. Weekly online video chats, in-person monthly meetings, an active Facebook group, and social activities held throughout the year provide members with both prenatal education and postpartum support. SWB also offers 1:1 teleconferences and home visits for women who require extra breastfeeding assistance. Sistah’s Who Breastfeed is an extension of the Partnership’s Healthy Women Healthy Families initiative, whose goal is to improve maternal and infant health outcomes for women of childbearing age and their families while reducing racial, ethnic and economic disparities in those outcomes.

“This group has helped me a ton!” said Khaliah Davis, a member of SWB. “The support and encouragement I received every time I had a question kept me going. Now I’m almost at one year of breastfeeding.”

SWB’s next in-person meetup is on Thursday, March 19 from 6:30 – 8:00 PM in the activity room at The Heritage at Alexander Hamilton in Paterson. For questions about the group or to register, email mhutton@partnershipmch.org.

Follow Sistahs Who Breastfeed on Facebook and view additional breastfeeding resources here.

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