06/23/2015 08:43 am ET Updated Jun 22, 2016

The Breastfeeding Corner

Today's black culture is not largely focused on breastfeeding. Since they have not breastfeed for generations they don't have that family link to this tradition. There are few breastfeeding role models in the community who are able to show examples of how breastfeeding works or how rewarding it is for both mother and baby.

Working is also a challenge to women who choose to breastfeed. More than 75% of African American women have to return to work before their baby is two months old. The myth that you have to stop breastfeeding once you return to work is one of the biggest barriers facing black women in the workforce.

Lack of education and support also makes breastfeeding an impossible choice. Health care providers have long neglected pregnant African American women in this area of prenatal care. Obstetricians and pediatricians rarely receive breastfeeding education during medical school, so they are often not even qualified to share an in-depth knowledge of the advantages of breastfeeding or how it works.

Lastly, infant formula may be the most important barrier to breastfeeding. Formula companies spend a lot of time and money marketing to African American communities to get them to use their products. The mass marketing of infant formula and formula products, including prepared baby food and vitamin supplements, has been very effective in creating the myth that infant formula is just as good as breastmilk.