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Stark racial disparities exist in rates of breastfeeding initiation and duration in the US, and may contribute to inequities in later child health outcomes.  Prenatal counseling, maternity care practices, and lactation support are critical strategies to support breastfeeding parents; however, these services have not traditionally been investigated or monitored with a racial equity lens.  We will conduct studies to better understand and address barriers to breastfeeding support provided to birthing parents of color delivering at Brigham & Women’s Hospital.

The 10 Steps Study

Our study will focus on hospital-related factors that shape birthing parents’ breastfeeding experiences, specifically focused on the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative. The Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative is  a World Health Organization (WHO) program that has increased breastfeeding rates worldwide through “Ten Steps” of hospital-based breastfeeding support. The Ten Steps Study will examine the extent to which hospital-based breastfeeding support practices vary by birthing parent race.

L.A.T.C.H. (Lactation Advocacy to Cultivate Health Equity) Study

We will interview Black, Latinx, and Asian birthing parents in the greater Boston area to better understand perspectives, barriers, and enablers to breastfeeding and explore impacts of racism in the health system on breastfeeding outcomes. Our learning will help shape hospital-based lactation programs.

The "Mama Sana" Program

Optimizing health outcomes for Spanish-speaking birthing parents and their babies at Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Mama Sana (“healthy mother” in Spanish) is a multi-disciplinary program and collaboration between the Nutrition, Pediatric Newborn Medicine, and Obstetrics departments.

Mama Sana’s goal is to provide language and culturally concordant maternity care for Spanish-speaking families delivering at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Mama Sana is a “wrap around” (i.e. providing continuity of care through pre- and post-natal) care program that provides nutrition, breastfeeding, exercise, mental health, and infant development education and support.

The program is being implemented by Elena Padilla-Garza, our new bilingual Registered Dietitian and Certified Lactation Counselor (left).

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