Photovoice Project Aims to Help Make Breastfeeding Easier in Chatham County

Georgia Southern University professor is working to identify barriers that exist locally for nursing mothers

A public health professor at Georgia Southern University has facilitated a Photovoice project to identify social, cultural, and physical barriers that discourage breastfeeding by African American mothers in Chatham County and to identify opportunities to remove those obstacles.

Nandi A. Marshall, DrPH, MPH, CHES, an associate professor and Interim Associate Dean of Academic Affairs in the Jiann Ping Hsu College of Public Health, has published a photo book, “Savannah H.O.P.E. Photovoice Project”, documenting personal experiences from local African American mothers. Photovoice projects tell a story using a combination of photography and storytelling to amplify the participants’ voices by their experiences through their own lens.

The Photovoice Project book illustrates from a personal view what data from a 2019 Racial Disparities in Breastfeeding Initiation and Duration Among U.S. Infants Born in 2015 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates: among all infants, black infants had a significantly lower rate of any breastfeeding at age 3 months (58.0%) than did white infants (72.7%); at age 6 months, the rates were 44.7% among black infants and 62.0% among white infants.

“We want to see the statistics change and the number of African-American mothers breastfeeding to increase,” Marshall said. “When we know what prohibits a mother from nursing, we can dive in and address the local barriers to create a culture of breastfeeding support.”

As a result of the data collected from the participating mothers throughout the project, Marshall and community leaders have begun work to have Savannah/ Chatham County recognized as a Breastfeeding Friendly Community.

Copies of the book will be shared with community partners and are available for viewing at the Healthy Savannah office, the YMCA of Coastal Georgia, and on the Armstrong Campus at Georgia Southern University. The photobook will be available to view digitally on the Healthy Savannah website later this fall. For more info contact Marshall by phone at 912-344-3307 or by email at nmarshall@georgiasouthern.edu.

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