This story is part three of a Black breastfeeding series that highlights real-life stories of Black mothers and lactation specialists navigating disparities and creating solutions in today’s maternal health climate. 

Jada Metcalf, 43, says her aunt became her saving grace when she was pregnant with her second child while breastfeeding her first. 

She was so inspired by the way her aunt cared for her that she became a postpartum doula — a person who provides families with emotional and informational support after the birth of a baby. 

She later became certified as a breastfeeding specialist and currently serves lactating people through her company, Milk + Honey Co

One thing Metcalf learned after working with families who are navigating their own unique challenges? Societal barriers have kept so many parents from having joyful breastfeeding experiences. 

“Breastfeeding affects every aspect of your life, whether it’s transportation, food, housing,” Metcalf told Word In Black in a video interview. “We deal with parents that live in food deserts, so they have a lack of access to food within a walkable distance.”

“Hydration is equally important [as diet], but for Black lactating people who live in communities impacted by environmental racism, this becomes a challenge.” 

As a resident of Riverdale, Georgia, Metcalf provides lactation care to families in nearby Atlanta, a predominately Black community that has a shortage of accessible groceries stores in parts of the city. 

According to data from the McKinsey Global Institute and McKinsey Institute for Black Economic Mobility, one-in-five Black U.S. residents lack access to fresh food. This disparity is dangerous for breastfeeding people, who require loads of nutrients to properly feed their babies.  

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