Last August, LaVonne Moore DNP’10, certified nurse midwife and graduate of St. Catherine University, celebrated the sixth annual Chocolate Milk Day, a day she created to raise support and awareness around breastfeeding in the Black community through Chocolate Milk Club, the organization she started that provides services to Black mothers in the Twin Cities.
"Our goal is to restore, reclaim, and revive this practice of breastfeeding in our community," Moore shared in a Kare 11 article. Moore’s organization provides support with “returning to work, pumping, also baby wrapping,” she said. “The more you see other women that look like you breastfeed, the more it becomes normalized. So, we're reclaiming the cultural practice."
As the first Black International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) in Minnesota and the only one until 2022, Moore began this important support group to help narrow health disparities caused by systemic inequities.
Breastfeeding can be incredibly important for the health of the baby, but due to barriers such as lack of access to lactation centers and support groups, in addition to historical trauma associated with breastfeeding, there is a large gap between the number of white mothers who breastfeed compared to Black mothers. This gap can impact the health of babies, and according to an MPR article, Minnesotan Black infants face a higher mortality rate compared to white infants. Moore’s work helps improve the health of Black infants and combat infant mortality.
“So much of this birth work is a social justice issue in terms of women of color,” Moore said in the MPR article. “We have worked hard trying to get that momentum in the state.”
Moore’s education at St. Catherine University supported her passion for these equity issues, she said. “St. Kate’s mission and philosophy around social justice is one that I really connected to. I felt very supported in that environment, I learned a lot, and it was a stellar educational experience.”
As both a healthcare provider and social justice activist, Moore provides meaningful resources to Black mothers and their babies in the Twin Cities through monthly support groups, in addition to in-home and community care in both Minneapolis and St. Paul
“Breastfeeding is a tool that can heal the bodies of all of our children. It’s something important that we can do for ourselves,” explained Moore in an interview with MinnPost. “Our goal is to get people to reclaim that practice. The Chocolate Milk Club is a vehicle to do that. We provide support for women, plus activities and education so that mothers can breastfeed as long as possible.”
To learn more about Moore and the Chocolate Milk Club, visit their website: Chosen Vessels Midwifery Services
If you or someone you know needs to access a lactation station, St. Kate's Access and Success offers private rooms in areas around campus:
- Coeur de Catherine 490
- Whitby 3rd floor, across from room 314
- Fontbonne 122
- Library 76