Meghan is the new State Breastfeeding Coordinator for DPH.
You may have noticed that the news is buzzing with breastfeeding articles lately! Recently, the Surgeon General released a Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding, detailing how we can all support a mom’s decision to breastfeed. In addition, Healthy People 2020 raised the bar for moms and babies.
We know that most moms want to breastfeed their babies—recent data shows that 82% of moms in Massachusetts started breastfeeding. But the number of moms who continue to breastfeed drops dramatically soon after birth. By 2 months of age, only 47% of infants are exclusively breastfeeding, meaning that they are receiving only breast milk and no formula.
As many moms can tell you, this striking shift after birth has a lot do with the lack of support for breastfeeding mothers. The fact that so many moms begin breastfeeding demonstrates that moms know this is a good choice. Many moms can also tell you that breastfeeding isn’t easy in the beginning. A lack of support is sometimes enough to put doubt in a mom’s mind that she can continue.
You might be thinking, “So, how can I support a mom’s decision to breastfeed?”
• In the early days, moms want help, but not necessarily help caring for her baby. Helping her out with chores around the house can help take her mind off of less important things- so that she can bond with her baby.
• Remind mom of the great job she’s doing and help her feel comfortable while breastfeeding.
• If you are an employer, set aside a private room for mom to pump milk while she is at work. A new federal law requires employers to accommodate breastfeeding moms up to a year after delivering her baby with adequate time and space to pump. Read more about this new law here.
• If you are a medical provider, family member, or friend, consider referring mom to a WIC program near you. WIC provides services, such as individualized breastfeeding assessment, education and support; breastfeeding classes and support groups; help accessing pumps; Mother-to-Mother Peer Support; and much more!
To find a WIC program in your area and to see if you qualify, visit: www.mass.gov/wic. Information about breastfeeding can be found under ‘Breastfeeding Support’ on this site. Even moms that do not qualify for WIC may call a program to get in touch with other community breastfeeding resources.
For moms who do not qualify for WIC, the La Leche League International helps moms to breastfeed through mother-to-mother support, encouragement, information and education, and to promote a better understanding of breastfeeding as an important element in the healthy development of the baby and the mother.
Also try www.zipmilk.com for other resources in your area. Do you have other tips to share on supporting new moms?