MILWAUKEE — Dalvry Blackwell is on a mission to help mothers navigate their breastfeeding journey.
She co-founded and is the executive director of the African American Breastfeeding Network.
“I thought all moms need to know the values and benefits of human milk and breastfeeding,” said Blackwell. “I felt like it was important information to share to with the community but also to support families and promote breastfeeding as the best source of nutrition for infants and babies.”
Another reason Blackwell said she started the nonprofit was because she noticed a disparity between African American mothers and breastfeeding.
“Racism definitely plays a role in that,” said Blackwell. “Black women are more likely to work in places where they don’t have a maternity leave. They don’t work environments that are comfortable or conducive to pumping milk, for example. They’re more likely to return to work sooner than a Caucasian woman. Also, discrimination.”
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, in general Black infants (77.3%) are less likely to be breastfed compared to white infants (85.3%).
The Milwaukee network provides help with breastfeeding, doula services and father engagement groups.
Shalonda Edwards received doula and breastfeeding help from the network. She said the support she’s received has helped her become the best mother for her daughter, Layla.
“I enjoy the bonding moment I have with my baby,” said Edwards. “She’s getting older day by day. She’s getting bigger and every moment I have with her, I absolutely love it. I cherish every moment.”
Blackwell said in the past 15 years, the network has helped a couple thousand families and will continue this work, so mothers can nurture and bond with their babies through breastfeeding.