By JeMiah Cannon, Anthropology and Africana Studies; Muswamba Mwamba, UNT Dallas
Advisor: Dr. Guy-Lucien Whembolua
Abstract: Breastfeeding has been shown to provide multiple health benefits to mothers and their babies. This led the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to its current recommendation that infants should be fed breast milk exclusively for the first 6 months after birth. However, families in the African American community find it challenging to breastfeed due to multiple factors. The Center for Diseases Control (CDC) reported that from 2011 to 2015, the percentage of Black women who made the choice to breastfeed was 64.3% compared to 81.5% for Whites. Moreover, prior research on breastfeeding shows that fathers play a central role in influencing a woman's choice to breastfeed increasing the chances that mothers will be successful with breastfeeding. Unfortunately, few studies have assessed the role men play in a woman's choice to breastfeed in the US Black community (the African American community as well as the African immigrant community). This research is critical to understanding and finding solutions to the health disparities, caused by a long history of oppression that disproportionately affect African Americans in the US. It also provides a unique opportunity to understand what is working within immigrant Black communities who were found to be significantly more likely to breastfeed. Using the PEN-3 cultural model, this study will examine the role of the immigrant Congolese father's influence in a woman's decision to breastfeed. These result may help to develop health initiatives that support African American families with breastfeeding, resulting in improvements to the health of the US Black community overall.