The Surgeon Generals Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding document was released last Thursday, January 20th. The Surgeon General begins the call to action with the following statement:
“For nearly all infants, breastfeeding is the best source of infant nutrition and immunologic protection, and it provides remarkable health benefits to mothers as well. Babies who are breastfed are less likely to become overweight and obese. Many mothers in the United States want to breastfeed, and most try. And yet within only three months after giving birth, more than two-thirds of breastfeeding mothers have already begun using formula. By six months postpartum, more than half of mothers have given up on breastfeeding, and mothers who breastfeed one-year olds or toddlers are a rarity in our society.”
The Call to Action asks for all members of the community to support breastfeeding mothers in their own way. The document outlines the importance of breastfeeding and includes information on the health, psychosocial, economic, and environmental benefits of breast milk. The surgeon general explains the barriers that breastfeeding mothers in the United States face, such as lack of knowledge and support, and what can be done about them.
The following objectives are including in the document, along with implementation strategies for achieving each one:
- Give mothers the support they need to breastfeed their babies.
- Develop programs to educate fathers and grandmothers about breastfeeding.
- Strengthen programs that provide mother-to-mother support and peer counseling.
- Use community-based organizations to promote and support breastfeeding.
- Create a national campaign to promote breastfeeding.
- Ensure that the marketing of infant formula is conducted in a way that minimizes its negative impacts on exclusive breastfeeding.
- Ensure that maternity care practices throughout the United States are fully supportive of breastfeeding.
- Develop systems to guarantee continuity of skilled support for lactation between hospitals and health care settings in the community.
- Provide education and training in breastfeeding for all health professionals who care for women and children.
- Include basic support for breastfeeding as a standard of care for midwives, obstetricians, family physicians, nurse practitioners, and pediatricians.
- Ensure access to services provided by International Board Certified Lactation Consultants.
- Identify and address obstacles to greater availability of safe banked donor milk for fragile infants.
- Work toward establishing paid maternity leave for all employed mothers.
- Ensure that employers establish and maintain comprehensive, high-quality lactation support programs for their employees.
- Expand the use of programs in the workplace that allow lactating mothers to have direct access to their babies.
- Ensure that all child care providers accommodate the needs of breastfeeding mothers and infants.
- Increase funding of high-quality research on breastfeeding.
- Strengthen existing capacity and develop future capacity for conducting research on breastfeeding.
- Develop a national monitoring system to improve the tracking of breastfeeding rates as well as the policies and environmental factors that affect breastfeeding.
- Improve national leadership on the promotion and support of breastfeeding.
If you are as excited as I am, you might like to read the entire thing for yourself: