Driving through town, we see billboards that display advertisements for business in the community. Even though it is important to promote business to help our economy grow, another issue of equal importance is the promotion of healthy human life...healthy human INFANT life, to be direct. For African American women, it is not the norm to see the promotion of breastfeeding on billboards in our country. Furthermore, it is not the norm for African American women to see the promotion of breastfeeding any place in their community.
Placing a priority on helping African American families SEE breastfeeding in their communities could have a significant impact. I accepted an invitation from a photographer in Colorado years ago to participate in a breastfeeding calendar. It would be a calendar featuring mothers from around the area of all races breastfeeding their babies ranging from newborn to toddler. I was more than happy to do a photo shoot with my five month old twin boys and my husband. The picture that we took was a beautiful piece of artwork that demonstrated a beautiful young African American breastfeeding family.
After the calendars were complete, they were distributed throughout communities in different states. My family and I were stationed at an Air Force Base in Wyoming at the time, not very far from the city in Colorado where the photos were taken and there was an OBGYN office in town who displayed the calendar in the women’s restroom. A few weeks later, I had a young airman to approach me while recognizing me and my family from the calendar and she said that the picture made her cry. She said that if she ever had children, she would breastfeed because she saw how beautiful it was. I thanked her for the compliment and told her that breastfeeding is a wonderful thing.
This calendar served as a tool to promote breastfeeding. I can attest to it reaching at least one possible future mom. Maybe it reached more. If we were to make promotion a big deal, we could possibly reach many more mothers. The key might be to use more African American women who do breastfeed and don’t mind letting the world know how beautiful breastfeeding really is. We have to find a way to make breastfeeding the norm in our communities. It can be promoting artwork with African American women, which would be recognizable to them. OBGYN offices, pediatric offices, dentist’s offices, beauty salons, grocery stores, and shopping malls could be optimal places to target our audience. We can try to reach women who are of childbearing age to get the image of breastfeeding in their minds so that when they do become pregnant, it is not a completely new concept to them. Breastfeeding can be promoted in our communities if those with a burning passion like myself, can have the opportunity to educate, support, and promote to those who are in need.
Photo used with permission of Live Well Omaha Kids, whose wonderful breastfeeding billboards were seen in Omaha during National Breastfeeding Month.