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Black Breastfeeding Week 2023 with Kindred Birth Companions

Updated: Aug 15, 2023

Jaya Pruitt and Ke'xia Draper are Community Doulas for the Kindred Birth Companions (KBC) program at SisterWeb. In addition to providing culturally congruent doula care to Black birthing people and families in San Francisco, Jaya and Ke'xia are both certified Lactation Specialists. They became Lactation Specialists to ensure that those who choose to experience breastfeeding can do so with all the information and support available to them. Their goal is to help people feel successful throughout their breastfeeding journey.

Ke'xia and Jaya describe that representation of Black women in the full spectrum of breastfeeding education and support matters. Some people encounter challenges during breastfeeding, and it's important to have someone who has a similar life experience and culture to provide encouragement. Jaya explains that during slavery, women were not able to breastfeed their own children, and that was passed down generationally. In the Black community, a lot of women haven't seen people in their family breastfeed, don't breastfeed, or are not expected to breastfeed. Being there to guide people through the starting point of breastfeeding is another form of braking generational curses, unlearning, and unlocking what is natural.

The roles "Lactation Specialist" and "Lactation Consultant" are sometimes used interchangeably, however, they are not the same. Lactation Specialists provide evidenced-based, unbiased information to the person breastfeeding so that they can feel empowered to carry out their breastfeeding journey in all the ways they choose to. In addition to that, a Lactation Consultant provides hands-on support. There are also differences in the kind of education requirements needed to acquire certifications for both these roles. The differences between Lactation Specialist and Lactation Consultant can be compared to the differences in doula and midwifery care. Doulas are the "cheerleaders" for the person giving birth while the midwife catches the baby.

This year's Black Breastfeeding Week takes place August 25-31st. The theme is "We Outside! Celebrating Connection & Our Communities." When reflecting on what this means to them, Jaya and Ke'xia describe breastfeeding becoming more normalized rather than sexualized, and emphasizing it's important role in the growth of the baby and building relationship. Also, breastfeeding doesn't have to be something that people do alone. "WE OUTSIDE! We're here, we're ready for you, we want to support you, and you can do it!" says Jaya.

For more information about Lactation Specialist support, email Jaya at or send Ke'xia an Instagram message at @incitechangeinbirthing. To learn more about breastfeeding, attend SisterWeb's "Breastfeeding Our Community" series. This free, 3-part, in-person event is open to the anyone interested in learning more about breastfeeding and its history, misconceptions, and benefits. Click here to register and learn more. Some online resources about breastfeeding recommended by Jaya and Ke'xia include La Leche League International, Center for Disease Control (CDC), and the World Health Organization.

Watch the video below to meet Jaya and Ke'xia, learn more about their experiences as Lactation Specialists, and understand all the ways they support their communities.

This blog post was written by Sofía Carbone, SisterWeb's Communications Coordinator, with support and guidance from Jaya and Ke'xia. Thank you Jaya and Ke'xia for your wisdom!

We understand that in addition to or instead of “breastfeeding” some people choose to use "chestfeeding" or “bodyfeeding” to describe their experiences when feeding their baby. We also recognize that not all people who breastfeed, chestfeed, or bodyfeed identify as "woman" or "mom." When using these terms, our intention is to represent the full diversity of lived experiences that includes those who feed their babies milk from their bodies and birthing persons (cis women, trans folks, and gender expansive individuals).

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