Inequities in access to health care put breastfeeding out of reach for many Black people (iStock)
The fight to protect individual choices about reproductive care, including breastfeeding, is an ongoing battle. The central lesson of the reproductive justice movement is that choice means little without access. That lesson applies equally to breastfeeding.
Though laws, in the workplace and other contexts, are in place to protect the right to breastfeed, many low-income women and women of color face entrenched structural barriers that hinder their ability to breastfeed before they can even consider if it is the right choice for them. This problem is particularly acute for Black women, who have the lowest breastfeeding initiation rate of all racial groups at 69.4 percent, compared with 85.9 percent of white women, and 83.2 percent of women overall. They also have the shortest breastfeeding duration, with 44.7 percent of black women breastfeeding at 6 months compared with 62 percent of white women and 57.6 percent of women overall.