HealthRacial Equity

New Orleans improves breastfeeding and health outcomes for babies and mothers


Both babies and mothers benefit from breastfeeding. Babies receive nutrition and immunities from breast milk, which supports their growth and development. For mothers, breastfeeding helps reduce risks for certain breast and ovarian cancers and type 2 diabetes.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that mothers exclusively breastfeed for six months, and then combine breastfeeding with complementary foods until a child is 12 months or older. That said, it can be challenging for women to sustain breastfeeding journeys, facing barriers such as unfriendly workplace policies, longstanding cultural biases and a lack of access to resources such as lactation consultants and breast pumps.

Women of color, particularly Black and Latina women, face many barriers to breastfeeding. Racial disparities persist for breastfeeding moms across the United States, particularly in places like New Orleans which has some of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the country. Maternal and child health advocates in New Orleans are proactively working to address these disparities and to create conditions to support families for a healthy future.

As part of community conversations for I Am New Orleans, a community-led conversation series to inspire dialogue and action around issues of racial equity to create a child-centered city, maternal and child health organizations, community leaders and health care practitioners have shared how to holistically support mothers and communities in breastfeeding, increase accessibility to lactation consultants and elevate the importance of milk banks.

A Breastfeeding-Friendly City is A Baby-Friendly City

Learn what it takes to make New Orleans a breastfeeding-friendly city with Meshawn Tarver, doula/senior program manager of maternal and child health at Institute of Women & Ethnic Studies; Taeshaun Walters, lactation counselor and parent educator at WE PLAY; Victoria Williams of New Orleans Breastfeeding Center/BirthMark Doulas; Chantell Reed of New Orleans Health Department and Dr. Tara Morse, OB-GYN at Touro Infirmary’s Crescent City Physicians.

Lactation Consultants – A Labor of Love

“Remember not all communities have the generational history of breastfeeding. We have to be visible, available to moms and babies.” – Shanika Valcour-Leduff, family nurse practitioner and founder of Labor and Love

Learn more about the importance of lactation consultants in this panel discussion, which includes Valcour-Leduff; Jade George, certified lactation counselor and doula at NOLA Baby Cafe’; Lucia Jenkins, RN, BSN, IBCLC, founder and executive director of Baby Cafe’ USA; Michelle Remy, RN, IBCLC, at Touro LCMC Health; and Taeshaun Walters, certified lactation counselor and parent educator at WE PLAY Center and NOLA Baby Cafe’.

Milk Banks: Community Generosity Saves Lives

Not only is breast milk free, but it’s essential in helping vulnerable premature babies survive and decreasing the odds of life-threatening complications and infections. In Louisiana, the Mother’s Milk Bank of Louisiana at Ochsner Baptist Hospital is the only human milk bank and it serves all of the state’s pre-term babies.

Listen to how communities can uplift and empower Black and Brown mothers in milk donation and tackle common misconceptions about milk banks. This conversation includes Kimberly Novod, founder and executive director at Saul’s Light Foundation; Dr. Shelley Thibeau, director of Mothers’ Milk Bank of Louisiana at Ochsner Baptist; Kinda Andrews Saunders, mom and influencer; Dr. Julie Gallois, neonatologist at Louisiana State University and Louisiana Children’s Medical Center (LCMC Health); and Portia Williams, RN, lactation consultant and maternal child health community manager at Touro and founder of NOLA Baby Café.


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