The mortality rate of black infants in Flint is more than four times the rate for white babies in the county.
Breastfeeding is both racial equity and public health imperative. Breastfeeding lowers the risk of infant death by 21 percent during the first year and increases to 38 percent for infants breastfed for three months or more. For the parent, breastfeeding helps to reduce the lifetime incidence of cardiovascular disease, ovarian cancer, and breast cancer.
“I believe that providing breast milk sets families up for generations of success,” said Shonte' Terhune-Smith, Founder of YOLO. “Families of color need to be able to initiate and provide breast milk for longer in order to address these inequities. Breastfeeding has numerous benefits that can impact diseases that are highly impacting people of color. If we think about how systems still impact families, think about maternity leave and how we don’t have long enough. This can force families to stop breastfeeding too soon. They need employer support at the system level.”
Over the last several years, the Arthur L. Tuuri Health Fund and the Flint Kids Fund have supported the expansion of breastfeeding support and education provided by You Overcoming Lactation Obstacles (YOLO), a Black-led local organization with strong ties and partnerships with local maternal health programs and hospital systems. Michigan Breastfeeding Network’s (MIBFN) mission is to advocate, educate, and community-build alongside families and organizations to advance an equitable, just, and breastfeeding-supportive culture. MIBFN will be working in direct partnership with YOLO Breastfeeding, to establish a prenatal and postpartum clinic within the City of Flint that provides culturally relevant, skilled lactation care in order to educate, empower, and support families on their birth and breastfeeding journey through a framework of equity and justice.
“I am so excited about the clinic because we don’t have a clinic in the county that serves every day,” Shonte’ said. “This will allow us to be daily in a clinic setting. The team will be able to full circle support to ensure mothers aren’t slipping through the cracks. We’ll be addressing and supporting breastfeeding and preventing issues that lead to breast milk drying.”
The Community Foundation of Greater Flint has approved a grant of up to $115,000 for the YOLO "No Mom Left Behind" Clinic Model project.
• $50,000 from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Equity Fund
• $12,820.22 from the Clara Elizabeth Maternal Child Health Fund
• $424.94 from the Healthy Start for Children Fund
• $26,754.84 from the Arthur L. Tuuri Health Fund
• $25,000 from the Flint Kids Fund
To learn more about Michigan Breastfeeding Network and No Mom Left Behind, visit https://mibreastfeeding.org/no-mom-left-behind/