Pre-Existing Conditions Impact Breastfeeding: Study Shows Women Entering Pregnancy in Poor Health Less Likely to Nurse

While much focus has been given to increasing breastfeeding education during the prenatal period, a new study suggests that how women enter pregnancy may be a stronger influencing factor. A new study from the University of Minnesota  School of Public Health showed that one-third of women entering pregnancy are in poor health and thirty percent less like to breastfeeding than someone without pre-existing conditions. And if they do, they often prematurely discontinue.


This new study  looked at 2,400 women who had given birth between 2011 and 2012. A third of the women participating suffered from diabetes, high blood pressure or was obese.


Dr. Katy Kozhimannil, lead author of the study and assistant professor in the School of Public Health, states “We also looked at statistically who are these women, and we found they were likely to be non-white, more likely to be low-income, to have lower education, unmarried and without a partner, and receiving public health insurance.”


Kozhimannil says she hopes the study’s findings will encourage the medical community to work harder to support pregnant women with challenges and “simple counseling women to breastfeed is not enough.”


“Telling women that it’s good for them and their babies is not enough, without adequate support as well. There might be special support that women with complex pregnancies need,”  says Kozhimannil.

Minding the Gap: Discovering the Barriers to Breastfeeding

While community initiatives are being implemented to improve access to healthier food in low-income urban and rural households, a more innovative focus on understanding the key influencers for shifting behaviors can help eliminate “first food deserts,” (communities with limited resources to support breastfeeding) and help lower the infant mortality rates among African-American infants.

The First Food, Good Food Project by Common Market in Philadelphia set out to better understand the influences of decision making for infant feeding options and personal eating habits.

To read the full article click here.






Connecting the First Food and Good Food Movements in Philadelphia

Good nutrition starts at birth. And the most healthful first food for infants is breastmilk. So instead of looking at infant feeding and early childhood and adult feeding as two separate agendas an innovative project in Philly sought to take a live course perspective to food—from your very first intake after birth through your adult years.

The First Food / Good Food Project by Common Market, a Philly based, non-profit food distributing organization in the Mid-Atlantic region, founded by Tatiana Garcia-Granados,and Haile Johnston, used this framework and then sought to identify and understand the key influencers for food decisions from how we feed our babies to how we feed ourselves.

Funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, The First Food/Good Food Project reflects the work of Christiaan Morssink, MPH, PhD, Adjunct Professor in Public Health Policy & Administration at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and Natisha Muhammad, MPH, who served as the Research Coordinator. Kimberly Seals Allers, served as the Project Director, bringing her previous work using community assessment models to explore the concept of a “first food desert” to this project.

The findings will enlighten you. To read the full report click here:

W.K. Kellogg Foundation Grant to Improve Infant Health Outcomes With Community Approach

Detroit-based Metro Solutions receives multi-year, $425,000 grant to fund community-based breastfeeding initiative


Metro Solutions, a Detroit-based non-profit fiscal intermediary, has partnered with three nationally recognized infant health and community engagement experts who will launch an innovative pilot project to improve community support for breastfeeding, and thereby improve infant and maternal health outcomes in cities across America.

The project, the First Food Friendly Community Initiative, is funded by a $425,000 grant from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, and is guided by the premise that the first food—breast milk—with its unparalleled immunological and preventative health properties, is the earliest and most optimal intervention point for improving the likelihood of healthier infants and children. The 2 ½ year project, which will include pilots in Detroit and Philadelphia, aims to create more supportive “first food friendly” community environments for mothers and infants by identifying on-the-ground partners and targeting local agencies, establishments, faith-based institutions and residents for multi-pronged coordinated strategies. These strategies stretch beyond traditional health interventions and include economic and workforce development components. By eradicating “deserts” of support and removing common barriers to increased breastfeeding with comprehensive community-led interventions, infants and the families that care for them can have more healthful and empowered lives.

Kimberly Seals Allers, a leading advocate and consultant on breastfeeding, Kiddada Green , founder of the Black Mothers Breastfeeding Association and Duane Kinnon, a management consultant with over three decades experience in non-profit and health and human services will spearhead the community-based work. Ruth Rashid Kaleniecki, a licensedsocial worker currently focused on community engagement around early childhood education, will serve as Metro Solutions’ grants director.

“We are delighted to work with such respected leaders in the field whose work dovetails perfectly with our commitment to advance community well-being and to add another WKKF grant to our growing portfolio as we provide fiduciary management and support for community service providers,” says Rose Khalifa, executive director of Metro Solutions, which creates strategic financial partnerships with health care systems, non-profit foundations, universities, social service agencies, and local municipalities.

“For years, we have been saying that hospitals are only step one and that women need more supportive environments where they work, play, eat and worship in order to have meaningful breastfeeding success. This grant from the Kellogg Foundation allows us to continue working on making that a reality for more mothers and babies and to develop a nationally scalable model,” says Seals Allers, who will serve as project director. “It is exciting to partner with Metro Solutions, who have a proven commitment to community health, on this project.”

About the FFCI Team: Kimberly Seals Allers is a nationally recognized media commentator, consultant and advocate for breastfeeding and infant health. As a consultant, Kimberly has led ground-breaking community-based projects in the southeast and Philadelphia that explore the impact of “first food deserts”—communities that severely lack or have inaccessible resources to support mothers who choose to breastfeed—and examining how to transform these areas into more breastfeeding supportive environments. A former IATP Food & Community Fellow, her advocacy work also centers on rethinking childhood nutrition and preventative health as beginning at birth with the optimal first food—breast milk.  Kiddada Green is the founding executive director of Black Mothers’ Breastfeeding Association (BMBFA), co-founder of Black Breastfeeding Week and sits on the advisory council of the Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters, Women’s eNews Black Maternal Health and Wayne Children’s Healthcare Access Program.  Mrs. Green works tirelessly to increase breastfeeding rates for African Americans, and contributed recommendations for The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding. She is committed to supporting families, and training public health workers on cultural competence in breastfeeding support.  Duane Kinnon, president & CEO of the Kinnon Group, LLC, is a leader in community engagement and nonprofit management with more than 30 years of human service experience working with global organizations like the Salvation Army, Boys & Girls Club of America, the YMCA and YWCA, institutions of higher learning, state education departments, various school districts, Parks & Recreation Departments, Public Housing Authorities and faith-based organizations. Mr. Kinnon has a long-standing track record strengthening communities to better serve vulnerable youth and families with high quality, researched-based programming.


About Metro Solutions: A Wayne County, Michigan non-profit organization, Metro Solutions, was established in 2003 to provide organizational and operational support to tax-exempt hospitals, to form strategic partnerships with health care supporters and sponsors statewide, and to fund and promote programs that deliver quality health care to the uninsured and underinsured in the metro Detroit area. It has since expanded its capabilities beyond healthcare to support the efforts of non-profit foundations, universities, social service agencies, and local municipalities.

About WKKF: The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life. The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Mich., and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally, are in Mexico and Haiti. For more information, visit

New government website offers employers creative workplace solutions for nursing moms

According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), three of four women start off breastfeeding soon after giving birth, but there is a steep decline in numbers by six months and even steeper decline of children being breastfed by the age of one. Going back to work is a common barrier for mothers, who have to balance (and master) nurturing their child and making a living. Many employers do not have supportive policies or suitable pumping spaces in place.

However, a new government website seeks to address that. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health introduced, a website offering online resources about breastfeeding while working. The site was developed in conjunction with the Society for Human Resource Management.

Under the Affordable Care Act, employers are required to provide new mothers with time and a private place to pump and breastfeed during work hours. The website was developed as a resource to assist businesses in implementing this law.

Nancy C. Lee, M.D., director of the Office on Women’s Health, stated in a press release “We know that many employers want to support their employees, not just because it’s required, but because it’s the right thing to do.”

The site features 28 videos of “creative solutions” employers can use to ensure they’re giving nursing mothers the time and space (other than the bathroom) they need to provide their baby with their nutritional needs.


Michigan Gov Signs Law to Protect Nursing in Public

On June 24th, Gov. Rick Snyder of Michigan signed the “Breast feeding Anti-Discrimination Act”, which gives women the right to nurse a child in any place that is open to the general public, including stores, restaurants and municipal buses.

Under the law, owners and operators cannot deny goods, services, facilities, advantages or accommodations to any woman simply because she is nursing. They also cannot post signs prohibiting public breastfeeding.

Woman subjected to discrimination because of breastfeeding can file a civil lawsuit  seeking actual or presumed damages. The court could also reward reimbursement for legal fees.

Breastfeeding is a “natural act with many proven benefits,” said Synder. He also stated supporting new mothers would ensure good infant health and reduce infant mortality rates. Health experts say Michigan ranks in the bottom third of States for breastfeeding rates and normalizing breastfeeding would be very beneficial for babies.

The law is hugely supported by State Sen. Rebekah Warren, D-Ann Harbor. She stated early Tuesday, “We hope that with Gov. Synder’s signature on this bill today, we will start a culture change so that our mothers feel comfortable nursing their babies wherever they’re allowed to be.”

Black Doulas Needed: How to Counter the Impact of Systematic Racism on Birth Outcomes

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says the U.S. infant mortality rate is the highest among selected states in the South and Midwest regions. In 2010, 13 states and the District of Columbia had infant mortality rates of 7.00–7.99, and two additional states (Mississippi and Alabama) had infant mortality rates of 8.00 or higher.

According to recent studies, systemic racism in America is negatively impacting the health of pregnant black women by creating stress over load on their system which is affecting the health of babies. Black babies are being born too soon and too small, and lack the option of being breastfed, as result of stress.

Evidence shows that when a pregnant woman, alone or with a partner, employs culturally competent doula services, it can help reduce her stress and reduce premature and low birth weight babies. These are the two main indicators for the higher infant mortality rate in the black community, regardless of educational status. Having a doula can reduce the risk of a caesarean section, medical intervention, aid in shorter labors, increase breastfeeding in the first hour after birth, and create a feeling of satisfaction with the birth experience by both parents (unnatural causes/when the bough breaks.)

We can improve the pregnancy and birth experience for families by having more black women trained as doulas to offer services. The ICTC doula training teaches the causes and solutions to reduce black infant mortality, offers a dual certification as a birth and postpartum doula, and teaches the midwifery model of care, entrepreneurial skills, and leadership. The ICTC has been training Full Circle Doulas® since 2012, with over 1,500 trained and 85% are women of color. The ICTC is the leading doula training organization in the world for health equity, cultural competency and teaching the legacy of the African American midwife as a public health model, to improve birth outcomes and support healthy parenting.

Founded in 1991, the International Center for Traditional Childbearing (ICTC) is a non-profit infant mortality prevention, breastfeeding promotion and doula training organization. Their mission is to increase the number of midwives, doulas, and healers of color, to empower families to reduce infant and maternal mortality.

A doula is a Greek word and it means woman helper or birth companion. It is a growing profession in the US, but there is a shortage of black doulas. The ICTC is traveling across the nation to close the gap by training more doulas to address the CDC statistics. This year the ICTC will train in IL, MS, AL, MD, VA, NY, WI and NJ.

Train as an ICTC Doula and help save babies and build a new career. Healthy babies are everyone’s business.

Contact the International Center for Traditional Childbearing (ICTC) and join their free-e-news for training updates and to learn more at or 503-460-9324.

The Milky Way: New Documentary About Breastfeeding in the U.S.

In Greek mythology, Hera’s breastmilk created the Milky Way.  Today, a new full length documentary produced by The Milky Way Foundation, is an exposé about breastfeeding in the United States.  The film examines both the social and personal challenges breastfeeding moms face and aims to usher in a new era of confident breastfeeding women in America by breaking down cultural, commercial and political barriers.  The documentary also spotlights the significant adverse impact on breastfeeding rates caused by the infant formula industry due to their strategic marketing, direct advertising and blatant endorsements of healthcare providers.  Watch the film trailer here:


The Milky Way Foundation

The Milky Way Foundation ( is working to restore the phenomenon of the nursing mother by normalizing nursing, and providing tools for each woman to trust her body, trust her baby, and trust herself during her journey through motherhood.  Anchored by their feature documentary film,The Milky Way, the Foundation will support several breastfeeding campaigns, including:  Breastfeeding Art Exhibitions, The Baby-Friendly NICU Project, Maternity Leave Programs and The Business Case for Breastfeeding.






New Micro-Doc Highlights Communities Knocking Down Barriers to Breastfeeding in Detroit

A powerful new micro-documentary produced by Detroit’s Black Mothers’ Breastfeeding Association uncovers breastfeeding roadblocks and successful ways to overcome historical, societal and social barriers to breastfeeding success.  The compelling video, Knocking Down Barriers: Reclaiming the Tradition, highlights some key barriers for women from the idea of locking up infant formula which makes it feel like a precious commodity to the unscrupulous marketing practices of grocery stores who offer freebies with formula purchases, women are being fed conflicting messages that impact infant health.  Despite these obstacles, the video shows the community of Detroit works together to overcome these system barriers. Watch the eye-opening micro-doc here:

Learn more about Black Mother’s Breastfeeding Association .