Photo Credit: Molly M. Ginty
Author: Molly M. Ginty
Published In: Women’s eNews, April 20, 2015
Summary: The first piece in a two-article series explore how Detroit’s Mother Nurture Project connects black mothers with peer breastfeeding counselors to boost breastfeeding rates.
Why We’re Highlighting This Article: This piece is a quality example of solutions journalism because it explores how a community-oriented approach to “beating the odds and breastfeeding for better health” is working. Ginty frames the problem—that African American women have the lowest breastfeeding rate of any ethnic group in the U.S.—in a broader context, tying this issue to social barriers such as a long-standing practice of relying on breast milk substitues and a “cultural scorn for breastfeeding” which harkens to when black female slaves were forced to be wet nurses; and tying lack of breastfeeding to long-term health consequences in communities, such as high rates of obesity and diabetes.
Ginty also relies heavily on data to reinforce her coverage of the program’s impact:
By fostering solidarity among black women, Mother Nurture’s peer counseling program has helped boost breastfeeding rates among its obstetrics patients–the majority of whom are African American–from 46 percent in 2011, when Mother Nurture first launched, to 64 percent today.
Delving into the how behind this program’s successes, Ginty explores the process by which peer support can convince reluctant black women to try breastfeeding. Through education and counseling, new mothers are not only informed of the health benefits of breastfeeding, but also brought into a close-knit support network—a “circle of sisterhood.”
Ginty also examines the program’s clear ripple effect, with some participants going on to become advocates and even full-time lactation educators and counselors themselves. There are potential obstacles, and a final mark of good solutions journalism is Ginty’s inclusion of caveats to the program’s effectiveness: for example, while this program works well in cities like Detroit (where the majority of residents are African-American), it may not be as effective in cities where black mothers are part of an isolated minority.
Thus far, the program is “not only boosting breastfeeding initiation among the 10,000 obstetrics patients who have passed through their program, but inspiring patients to breastfeed an average of seven months–longer than the recommended six months.” It has emerged as a successful approach to raising breastfeeding rates, converting even skeptical mothers with its unique approach.
This series was partially funded by the Solutions Journalism Network.