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The Mama Glow Foundation Receives Grant to Develop Restorative Justice Breastfeeding Education Program for Doulas

Bintou Diarra | Editorial Lead | MS1: Alpert Medical School of Brown University | April 17, 2024

The Maternal Health organization, Mama Glow Foundation, debuts a new national training program rooted in breastfeeding education and restorative justice. 

The First Foods Justice Breastfeeding Certification Program for Doulas, is centered on reclaiming breastfeeding education and bringing lactation support to communities most impacted by low breastfeeding rates. The program was first announced at the third annual Doula Expo by Mama Glow last year and holds a vision of restorative justice. 

Despite the benefits of breastfeeding, mothers belonging to historically marginalized populations engage at lower rates, when compared to their white counterparts. The maternal health organization, Mama Glow Foundation is unveiling a historic effort to address the disparities in Black breastfeeding rates in the USA. The training program approaches breastfeeding from the framework of first food justice—the notion that all infants should have the right to access the best nutrition, and caregivers their right to provide it. 

The First Foods Justice Program will provide professional lactation education to people who have been historically marginalized and whose communities fall victim to health inequity. Mama Glow Foundation holds a deep commitment to community and an investment in the workforce of doulas and community care workers. The design of this course centers the safety and support of Black and Brown mothers, birthing people, and families as they navigate the unique challenges and joys of breastfeeding.

The impact goals of the program are 1) to train 100 community care workers/doulas as Community Lactation Educators, 2) to serve marginalized people with community-based and trauma-informed lactation support, and 3) to measure the training outcomes and capture feeding success experiences within the program.

The First Foods Justice Breastfeeding Certification Program aims to address a number of disparities. While breastfeeding is often framed as a matter of personal choice or preference, the disparities warrant thorough investigation. Only 66% of Black infants are breastfed—a statistic that pales in comparison to those of white and Latine infant’s breastfeeding rates—82%. The disparities go beyond initiation. When Black birthing people breastfeed, they face challenges that impact their ability to nurse their infants long term. Only 44% of Black birthing people breastfeed for at least six months, when compared with 62% of white birthing people.

Another systemic barrier barring Black birthing people from breastfeeding is the decision-making occuring within the biomedical sphere. Unfortunately, hospital systems have historically been the target of the predatory marketing practices of formula companies, and this impacts specific demographic groups—like low-income Black women. This targeted approach is among the factors shaping Black mothers and birthing people’s disproportionate rates of formula use. 

The First Foods Justice Program is equal parts revolutionary and restorative. It is a rallying call to come to the table and imagine what it looks like to repair, design a new equitable future. This work embodies deep collaboration, community, and accountability, and provides a model for multidimensional support in our effort to prop up our nation’s mothers and birthing people.

Due to an overwhelming response and excitement about the program, hundreds of applicants applied to be a part of the inaugural cohort of First Foods Justice Advocates who will go on to be Certified Community Lactation Educators. With the first cohort of trainees complete, we look forward to welcoming the next cohort of individuals into the program.

Applications for the Summer Cohort Open in May and the next course starts in July. 

APPLY HERE 

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