Building a Breastfeeding Friendly King County
Earlier this month, WithinReach hosted a community breakfast event called “Building a Breastfeeding Friendly King County: Our Collective Responsibility” at the Tukwila Community Center. The goal of the breakfast was to engage the King County community as agents of change in support of African American families, and to provide education about breastfeeding as the ultimate prevention tool. More than 60 people from different sectors in King County attended the breakfast and were called to increase culturally sensitive breastfeeding support for African American mothers and babies.
The morning began with a warm welcome from WithinReach’s very own CEO, Kay Knox. Kay thanked the group for being open to engage in such an important conversation for the health of our communities. Patty Hayes, director of Public Health—Seattle & King County (PHSKC), shared a health brief, Health of Mothers and Infants by Race/Ethnicity, published by PHSKC last year. According to the brief, African Americans have some of the highest incidences of infant mortality (pg. 10) and low birth weights (pgs. 14-15), while also experiencing the least amount of social support (pg. 23). Dr. Ben Danielson of Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic delivered the keynote presentation, “Breastfeeding: the Ultimate Prevention Tool,” which connected society-level factors and health data to the importance of breastfeeding as a preventative measure. He called for more culturally sensitive breastfeeding support and awareness around stereotypes of African American mothers and fathers. The day culminated with a group activity on cross-cultural engagement and how “circles of influence” affect change. Community partners left the event empowered to make changes, big or small, within their communities to better support breastfeeding and African American families.
The event and the speakers were well-received. Many participants appreciated maternal-child health specialist and doula LeAnn Brock’s first-hand account of her breastfeeding experience as an African American mother. One attendee noted, “I really valued her honesty about the distrust experienced by African Americans towards white professionals.” Another stated, “LeAnn’s highlighting of historical trauma [had the greatest impact] — powerful to hear from a black woman!” In 2017, the Breastfeeding Coalition of Washington will continue to facilitate conversations around breastfeeding and health inequities for low-income and women of color through free quarterly webinars. If you would like more information on breastfeeding equity efforts or would like to receive notifications about upcoming events, contact Alex Sosa, Breastfeeding Promotion Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.