Importance of Healthcare Provider Support of Breastfeeding
Physicians and health care providers have a unique role in promoting breastfeeding and supporting a woman’s decision to breastfeed. This support begins during preconception care and continues through prenatal care, delivery, postpartum care, and during ongoing care of the infant, woman and the family. A study in Pediatrics concluded clinicians’ practices regarding formula supplementation of healthy infants and their opinions about the importance of their breastfeeding advice are associated with the likelihood that mothers will continue exclusive breastfeeding. Your encouragement matters.
In 2011, the US Surgeon General issued a national Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding. This report recommends widespread community efforts to create a supportive environment for new mothers in order to increase breastfeeding rates and improve the health of the nation. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians were joined in February 2016 by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in recommending babies be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months, with continued breastfeeding as complementary foods are introduced through the infant’s first year of life or longer as mutually desired by mother and infant.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Data – Nebraska
- According to the 2014 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report card, in 2011 just over 82% of moms in Nebraska ever breastfed, 46% of infants were still breastfeeding at 6 months of age, and less than 26% were breastfeeding at 1 year of age.
Local Hospital Tracking-Lancaster County
- According to data from the two maternity care hospitals in Lincoln, 91% of moms intend to breastfeed.
Local Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Data – Lancaster County
- The 2014 data from our two local WIC clinics shows about 87% of moms on WIC in Lancaster County were breastfeeding at 1 week, under 53% by 8 weeks, only 20% at 6 months and 11% at 1 year .
In Support of Breastfeeding
Studies show that physician encouragement and support of breastfeeding positively impacts a mother's choice to breastfeed. To support and encourage breastfeeding, physicians and health care providers need to:
- Understand the benefits of breastfeeding (Source: US Dept of Health and Human Services)
For baby: Reduced risk of SIDS, ear infections, upper respiratory infections, childhood leukemia, obesity, diabetes, gastrointestinal issues, asthma, childhood obesity and more
For mom: Reduced risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, type II diabetes, and postpartum depression
- Understand the physiology of lactation and how to identify women at risk for lactation problems or with contraindications
- Prescribe breastfeeding - Recommend your pregnant patients breastfeed their babies (view or download this pdf)
- Identify potential barriers and solutions, resources, and local lactation counseling services
- Encourage all staff and clinicians to be trained on Lincoln community standards for breastfeeding support
- Lincoln Community Breastfeeding Initiative Breastfeeding Support Packet
- Shared Community Breastfeeding Standards Between Lincoln Hospitals
- Key General Shared Teaching Concepts
- Key Prenatal Shared Teaching Concepts
- Key Postpartum Teaching Concepts
- Nebraska Breastfeeding Coalition Webinars
- Provide a list local of breasfeeding resources to pregnant/new moms in waiting rooms, in exam rooms and for pregnant/new moms to take home
- Encouraging Skin to Skin
Know the benefits of skin to skin (The Sacred Hour: Uninterrupted Skin-to-Skin Contact Immediately After Birth, Raylene Phillips MD, IBCLC, FAAP, NAINR. 2013) and talk to your patients about it. Early postpartum skin-to-skin contact increases:
- Physiologic stability
- Promotes optimal psycho-emotional well-being
- Supports structural and functional infant brain development
If there are no medical contraindications, immediate and uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact can be possible in the operating room following a cesarean birth as well. Facilitating Skin-to-Skin Contact in the Operating Room After Cesarean Births
- Provide ongoing support
Continue to encourage breastfeeding moms to build self-efficacy
- Baby-Friendly Practices
- prescribe breastfeeding
- no formula samples
- provide local resource guide prenatally
- talk to moms at every visit about
- talk to moms/provide resources on the
importance of skin to skin contact,
- advocate for skin to skin at birth
- wait on the weight
Local Community Resources
MilkWorks - MilkWorks is a non-profit, community breastfeeding center with offices in Lincoln, and Omaha, Nebraska. Under the medical direction of Kathy Leeper, MD, the center provides a wide range of education, support and clinical services to help mothers breastfeed their babies. No mother is denied services based upon ability to pay. One of our coaltion of community health partners, MilkWorks is also a founding member of the Lincoln Community Breastfeeding Initiative.
Lincoln Community Breastfeeding Initiative (LCBI) - LCBI is collaborative partnership of health care providers, Lincoln hospitals, and community organizations focused on improving breastfeeding rates by creating consistent, accurate breastfeeding messages for new mothers across the spectrum of health care.
Community Breastfeeding Educators - Through a joint collaboration with MilkWorks and the Asian Community and Cultural Center, culturally diverse mothers, trained as Community Breastfeeding Educators (CBEs), are available to provide peer to peer breastfeeding to mothers in their homes and communities in eight different languages, including Spanish, Arabic, Nuba, Burmese, Karenni, Vietnamese, Chinese and English. Click this link for a playlist of videos with breastfeeding information in different languages. For more contact information: Download a CBE brochure.
LLCHD - WIC - Another of our community health partners, the Women, Infant, and Children program (WIC), part of the Lincoln Lancaster County Health Department, provides nutrition and health services, and breastfeeding information and support for low to moderate income families.
Family Service – WIC - Family Services Women, Infants, and Children Nutrition Program provides free food, nutrition information, and breastfeeding support to help keep pregnant women, infants and children under five healthy and strong.
Nebraska Breastfeeding Coalition - The Nebraska Breastfeeding Coalition (NBC) is a network of individual members and organizational partners (including Partnership for a Healthy Lincoln) dedicated to improving the health of Nebraskans by making breastfeeding the norm through education, advocacy and collaboration. The coalition works together to share information and partner in activities to increase breastfeeding rates across the state. At this site, you can find support resources of all kinds, including breastfeeding videos.