Florida Public Health Review

Publication Date

February 2012


The benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and newborns are well established. Yet, black women in the U.S. consistently have the lowest rates ofbreastfeeding initiation and duration. Utilizing the various levels ofthe Social Ecological Model, this paper explores the factors that are thought to be responsible for this disparity. Poverty, a lack of resources, and societal disapproval weigh heavily upon already strained intrapersonal relationships where social support is severely lacking. Familial influence proves pivotal in a mother’s decision ofwhether or not to breastfeed. The role ofWIC clinics are also examined as a source of intervention, though literature demonstrates women receive oppositional messages from clinic workers and the free formula they provide. To conclude, Servant Leadership and Relational Leadership theories are discussed as potential methods of increasing social support, educating and empowering new mothers through the process relationship creation. I suggest these leaders remain aware ofthe numerous obstacles new mothers face when breastfeeding their infants, and address them through a culturally informed and sensitive approach.