PINE BLUFF, Arkansas — Finding the support to breastfeed can be difficult for African-American women.

As a sign of support, the University of Arkansas in Pine Bluff opened its first breastfeeding room.

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This was created through a collaborative effort of UAPB, the Arkansas Department of Health, and the Arkansas Breastfeeding Coalition. It will give anyone on campus a chance to feed their child in a safe spot.

“I automatically knew I was going to breastfeed and with that decision being made, who did I go to? My mama. But she looked at me and said, ‘child you know I didn’t breastfeed ya’ll,’” Arkansas Minority Health Commission Director Sharhonda Love said.

Arkansas Department of Health Wellness Director Kenya Eddings said Arkansas is becoming more breastfeeding friendly.

It’s a nook located in the Health Sciences building.

“Faculty, students, the public, students, friends of UAPB in Pine Bluff are welcome to use it,” Eddings said.

It’s especially important for minority mothers, who have the lowest rates of breastfeeding.  

“What we know is that breastfeeding is usually done less in minority mothers, mainly because they don’t receive the same support that’s needed to continue to breastfeed for the duration,” Love said.

About 70% of minority mothers start breastfeeding, but after six months, only 20% continue.

“While they try and they get started, they’re not able or supported throughout the process, whether it’s by the healthcare providers, families, or employers to continue on providing those important nutrients to their babies,” Love said.

Grants totaling $1,000 provided the necessities for the nook, which area four by five foot space, comfortable lighting, a chair, a refrigerator, and an outlet.

“We know that healthy babies make a healthy community; a healthy community makes a healthy workforce. So, all that together makes it so important for everyone involved, even if you don’t have children,” Eddings said.

Supporters sighted health benefits for women that come from breastfeeding, like weight loss and a reduced risk of developing certain cancers. The Pine Bluff mayor said this will lead to a better community.

“Breastfeeding is associated with healthier children, higher rates of school attendance,” Mayor Shirley Washington said.

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Thursday, the Arkansas WIC program was also awarded for its hand in promoting breastfeeding.

More nooks are on the horizon for the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. It will receive five over the next few months.