Lactation counselor working to bridge breastfeeding disparities among moms

Posted at 5:59 AM, Oct 04, 2018

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- We often see stories about breastfeeding in the headlines these days -- the benefits, what moms should know, but what isn't often talked about is the challenges minority groups face.

Tiffany Townsend is a local lactation counselor who is dedicated to increasing the success rate of breastfeeding among minority women in the community.

"Initiation has really skyrocketed in the black community just because of programs we have - we have mom to mom peer breastfeeding support group which offers support to moms at no cost. breastfeeding, supplies, all of that stuff and we`ve seen a high jack up in the initiation and duration and we know that is because these services are available to moms who otherwise wouldn`t have access to them," she said.

Townsend says white women are five times more likely to initiate breastfeeding, and the amount of time they do it, is longer

In fact, a study from Chapman University found that African American women were nine times more likely to be given formula in the hospital than white mothers.

A part of it is a lack of education for mothers based on social, cultural and linguistic needs which is exactly why Townsend started support groups to reach moms who may not know where to turn.

"We kind of just do a lot of education, a lot of talking, demonstrations on what it looks like, what a good latch is, and its just a safe place for them to come and not have to worry about being a mom, cleaning and cooking and doing all that so we also really focus on self care and what that looks like and how you can do that for little to no cost at all," Townsend said.

"Like a sisterhood, you are connected to women that are walking your journey right along with you and that makes the burden a lot less heavy because lets be honest breast-feeding is not always easy, its not always a beautiful mom walking the runway breastfeeding her baby, sometimes you`re up at three o' clock in the morning and you`re exhausted and you don`t know what to do," she said.

If you are interested in learning more, Townsend holds her classes at Help Pregnancy Crisis Aid on Bridge Street. She even offers a Spanish speaking class.