Infant Feeding During COVID: Strategic Planning for Pregnancy, Postpartum and Beyond

Photo source: Aresha Auzenne​ via Brandi Gates-Burgess

Nationally, Black women have the lowest rates of breastfeeding initiation in comparison to any other racial/ethnic groups. Black babies are dying at twice the rate of White babies and according to the CDC, increasing breastfeeding among Black women can decrease infant mortality rates up to 50 percent.

In honor of Black Breastfeeding Week (August 25th – 31st), we partnered with the BreastFriends Mommy Group in West Oakland to explore why these rates look different for Black women and specifically how COVID-19 is affecting breastfeeding support for everyone. 

We all need help, we all need someone to stand up and speak up so the next Black woman can actually get the proper help to Breastfeed. We need more healthy babies out here.

Trashawn Franklin on what advice she has for Black birthing people during COVID



Resources from our panelist

Should Infants Be Separated from Mothers with COVID19? First, Do No Harm
By Dr. Alison Stube
Breastfeed Med. May 2020; 15(5): 351–352.
Published online 2020 May 8. doi: 10.1089/bfm.2020.29153.ams

COVID-19 Is No Reason to Abandon Pregnant People
By Dr. Monica R. McLemore
Scientific American

CDPH Visitor Limitations Guidance

Shared Decision-Making Handout

COVID-19 Webinars and Current WHO and CDC Guidelines


Brandi Gates

Brandi Gates-Burgess

Brandi is a graduate of California State University, Eastbay, a mother of three exclusively breastfed girls and a passionate breastfeeding advocate. She co-founded a community awareness advocacy group, The Breastfeeding MAFIA (Mother’s Against Feeding Infants Artificially). Currently, Brandi works for Highland Hospital, the West Oakland Health Council as the Breastfeeding Coordinator and Lactation Consultant for the WIC program and Health Center.  She is the creator and lead facilitator of the Breast Friends Mommy Group. Most recently, Brandi was awarded the Rising Star Award from the California Breastfeeding Coalition and the Black Girls Rock Award for her leadership in her community.


Trashawn Franklin

Trashawn Franklin

Trashawn Franklin was born and raised in Oakland, California. She grew up in the foster care system and aged out at 18. After being placed in multiple foster homes, she vowed to never be in foster care again. She enrolled in community college and began working part time. At 19, Trashawn became pregnant with her first child, stopped going to school and began to learn a trade in commercial truck driving, which is now a passion of hers.  Currently, Trashawn is a member of the Breast Friend's Mommy Group, a single mother of 4 beautiful children and recently completed her training to become a community breast-feeding peer counselor. She is committed to helping support Black mothers to exclusively breast-feed and hopes to further her training to become an IBCLC.

Robbie Gonzalez-Dow

Robbie Gonzalez-Dow

Robbie Gonzalez-Dow is the Executive Director for the California Breastfeeding Coalition and is the Regional Breastfeeding Liaison for the Community Bridges WIC Program in Santa Cruz County. She is registered dietitian and seasoned public health advocate with many years removing institutional and environmental barriers to breastfeeding through grassroots organizing, education, advocacy and policy work. She dreams of a world where breastfeeding is valued and protected.

Allana Samuel

Allana Samuel

Allana Samuel is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant in the Bay Area who began her journey 16 years ago as a Breastfeeding Peer Counselor. She currently works for the Alameda County WIC Program as the Breastfeeding Coordinator, Peer Counselor Supervisor and one of the clinic IBCLCs. She has her own private practice, Love Lactation, where she is famously known as the Late Night Lactation Consultant. Allana is one of the co-founders of The Breastfeeding M.A.F.I.A., (Mothers Against Feeding Infants Artificially) whose goal is to normalize breastfeeding and help combat social and structural barriers that impede mother’s breastfeeding success. She also co-chairs the African American Breastfeeding Cultural Outreach Taskforce (BCOT), whose mission is to revive the art of breastfeeding. Allana has a passion for teaching and training and is honored to be able to serve families, especially people of color, in the community in which she was raised. She has breastfed all three of her children and takes pride in her belief that breastfeeding promotion and support is not merely a job, but a lifestyle that has the power to transform individual lives and communities.