Social-Ecological Analysis and Implications for Practice
Despite extensive evidence supporting the health benefits of breastfeeding, significant disparities exist between rates of breastfeeding among African American women and women of other races. Increasing rates of breastfeeding among African American women can contribute to the improved health of the African American population by decreasing rates of infant mortality and disease and by enhancing cognitive development. Additionally, higher rates of breastfeeding among African American women could foster maternal-child bonding and could contribute to stronger families, healthier relationships, and emotionally healthier adults. The purpose of this article is twofold: (a) to use the social-ecological model to explore the personal, socioeconomic, psychosocial, and cultural factors that affect the infant feeding decision-making processes of African American women and (b) to discuss the implications of these findings for clinical practice and research to eliminate current disparities in rates of breastfeeding.