August is all about babies for 2 reasons. First, August is National Breastfeeding Month. Secondly, the American response to the World Health Organization’s resolution encouraging breastfeeding was recently prevalent in the news, causing concern among health professionals. So what do new moms, families, and caregivers need to know about breastfeeding?
From Health Professionals: The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists all recommend babies be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months, with continued breastfeeding as solids are introduced through at least 1 years old. The CDC and the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services concur that breastfeeding is a “… healthy start that lasts a lifetime.”
What are the Benefits? Several studies have shown that children who breastfed for the recommended duration had fewer colds, ear, throat, and respiratory infections, as well as a reduced risk of asthma, leukemia, type II diabetes, obesity, and SIDS. Mothers who breastfeed have a lower incidence of breast and ovarian cancer, cardiovascular diseases, type II diabetes, and postpartum depression.
Breastmilk vs. Formula: While healthcare professionals and supporters advocate for breastfeeding because of the health advantages, they know it doesn’t work for everyone. If using or supplementing with formula is what works or is the only choice for some moms, they all agree women should not be stigmatized or criticized.
It’s Not Always Easy: Local data shows that 91% of moms intend to breastfeed. However, the most recent report from the CDC shows only 50% of Nebraska infants were still breastfeeding at 6 months and only 30% were breastfeeding at 1 year. New moms often report 3 major challenges: lack of workplace support; lack of family support; and inconsistent or sparse information from healthcare professionals. New moms and babies may also experience challenges getting breastfeeding established.
There’s Help: If moms do struggle with breastfeeding, Lincoln has many resources to help. Both Lincoln hospitals have lactation consultants, as well as several pediatric and family medicine offices. Other major sources of support include MilkWorks (milkworks.org), Lincoln Lancaster County WIC program (lincoln.ne.gov/wic), and Family Service of Lincoln WIC (familyservicelincoln.org/wic) who provide guidance, education, and support including breast pumps. MilkWorks also collaborates with the Asian Community and Cultural Center (lincolnasiancenter.org), and Partnership for a Healthy Lincoln (healthylincoln.org) to support Community Breastfeeding Educators (CBEs). The CBEs provide culturally sensitive breastfeeding support and education to new moms in 7 languages within their own communities or homes.
Lincoln also has a group of healthcare providers, hospitals, and community organizations comprising the Lincoln Community Breastfeeding Initiative (LCBI). They collaborate to help improve breastfeeding success by working with healthcare providers, employers, childcare providers and the community to establish policies and practices that encourage breastfeeding education and support, provide consistent messages, and guide mothers to appropriate assistance.
The Law: Nebraska law LB627 requires companies of 15 or more salaried or hourly employees to make reasonable accommodations for break time and appropriate facilities for breastfeeding or expressing breastmilk. Nebraska law LB 197 gives a woman the legal right to breastfeed her child in any public or private location where the mother is otherwise authorized to be. FLSA 2010 is a federal law requiring an employer of 50 or more employees to provide (1) a reasonable break time to express breastmilk for 1 year after the child’s birth each time an employee has need, (2) a place, other than a bathroom, shielded from view and free from intrusion from co-workers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breastmilk. WorkWell, a division of the Nebraska Safety Council, (nebraskasafetycouncil.org) helps employers to develop and implement breastfeeding support policies with a comprehensive tool kit, the Nebraska’s Guide to Lactation Support at the Worksite.
Visit HealthyLincoln.org/breastfeeding for a list of resources and information.