Overtown mural urges WOC to breastfeed

admin | 6/21/2012, 5:25 a.m.

There has always been a lack of positive images of women in color represented in images in the media or even contemporary art. However, the lack is particularly noticeable when it comes to positive portrayals of Black, Hispanic and other mothers of color breast feeding, according to Shayla Walsh, an organizer for the Powerful Women and Families. The program, which is headquartered in Miami, is dedicated to educating young and low-income women of color about issues on how to raise healthy families. So, on Wednesday, June 13th, the Powerful Women and Families unveiled a mural on the corner of 14th Street and Second Court in Overtown. The concept of the mural is to reclaiming our power as mothers, particularly as mothers who are women in color, Walsh explained. Under the leadership and technical assistance of Lulu Figueroa, mothers and leaders in the Powerful Women and Families program designed and painted the mural. The mural project was part of the Powerful Women and Families campaign to raise awareness about the importance of Women of Color choosing to breast feed their children. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a new borns diet should consist exclusively of breast milk for their first six months of their lives. Afterwards, parents should continue to feed their children breast milk in addition to complementary foods until they are 12 months old. Unfortunately, not many women - white or Black - are heeding these guidelines. According to the Centers for Diseases Controls 2010 Breastfeeding Report Card, 73.4 percent of all mothers in Florida breast feed their new borns. However, the numbers severely decrease as time goes on. By the time their babies are six months old, only 38 percent of new moms are still breast feeding and only 17.3 percent are breast feeding when their children are 12 months old. Among Black women, only 45 percent have reported breastfeeding their new borns. Walsh believes the low rates of breast feeding occur for several reasons including lack of cultural and community support and education. One reason is that a lot of low-income Black women arent receiving enough education about feeding plans that include breastfeeding, she explained. Theres a kind of assumption that a low-income Black mom will just go to WIC [Women, Infants and Children program], so doctors arent proving them with the information about breast feeding. She further explained, Also, there are still stigmas surrounding breast feeding. So, you may try to breastfeed your child in public and receive disapproving looks from [others.] The lack of breast milk is a detriment for children. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a mothers breast milk has been proven to provide all calories and nutrients that infants need, assist with the proper development of a babys organs; and help ward off numerous diseases and infections including diarrhea, pneumonia, bronchiolitis and ear infections. To help educate more individuals of how to raise healthy children and families, the Powerful Women and Families program has held a series of free classes for mothers. By Kaila Heardkheard@miamitimesonline.com