Aqueelah Russell, MBA, IBCLC, LCCE

“It is vital for Black babies to receive their mama's breast milk as their optimum feeding choice.”

How did you become involved in supporting Black breast/chestfeeding in Los Angeles County and why are you passionate about it?

My professional lactation journey began in 2015 as a Lactation Educator. I quickly realized that the lactation space lacked diversity. I was boldly told I would never find work in the lactation field. I am currently the Designated Breastfeeding Expert for the Antelope Valley’s Medical Center, Women Infants and Children Program. I am passionate about this work because breast milk is preventative medicine. Also, Black babies have higher infant mortality rates, which could be reduced by receiving breast milk. 

What is the most rewarding part of the work that you do to support Black breast/chestfeeding?

Promoting and leading by example. Illustrating that Black moms DO breastfeed and that Black women also thrive in the professional lactation space. It is vital for Black babies to receive their mama's breast milk as their optimum feeding choice. 

Do you have a personal experience or story to share about a breast/chestfeeding journey?

As a first-time breastfeeding mother, I was not aware of the breastfeeding disparities that Black women faced. I also did not know that Black women had the lowest breastfeeding rates. I was raised by a woman who breastfed nine children, and through that visibility, breastfeeding was a NORMAL expectation. My mother provided me with “Nennie” and, therefore, both my children received “Nennie.” I am confident that my mother’s “Nennie” legacy will be passed onto future generations.

What do you hope to see change for the better with regard to Black breast/chestfeeding in Los Angeles County?

I hope to no longer be the Unicorn in the room and to collaborate with other Black lactation professionals to change the infant feeding landscape in LA County. There will be a time when we have a robust network of Lactation Educators and Consultants providing culturally compassionate care, which will cause Black breastfeeding rates to soar. Programs from BreastfeedLA and the B.L.A.C.K Course are paving the way. 


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