by Nate Imig
Formed in 2008 to promote breastfeeding as the natural and best way to provide optimal nourishment to babies and young children, the African American Breastfeeding Network holds its monthly classes at the YMCA on 14th and North.
"The initiation rates (for breastfeeding) are high in the hospital…70%" says Dalvery Blackwell, Co-Founder and Director of the AABN. "It's when mothers transition into their homes is where we see the lack of support." Dalvery says that the AABN provides that network of support to help mothers continue breastfeeding when things get rough. Free "community gatherings" are held monthly at the YMCA, with topics ranging from the basics of how to start breastfeeding to how you can return to work and continue to breastfeed. Pregnant mothers sit side by side with other future mothers, sisters, aunties, grandmothers and some experts too. A lactation consultant leads each session and an OBGYN nurse from Aurora is on hand to answer any questions.
The AABN realizes the importance of the father's role too. Sessions for fathers are held separately than the mothers, but they get the same key messages. "When they go back home, they aren't arguing what's best for the baby, they all got the same information." says Blackwell. "We are in the early stages of developing a big sisters component," Blackwell continues. "The pregnant mothers will be paired with a big sister that is breastfeeding currently to support her while she's at the gathering."
For more information about the African American Breastfeeding Network call 4114.617.3441 or register for gatherings online at aabnetwork.org.