The Benefits of Breastfeeding for Mom and Babies
Recent research shows that if 90% of families breastfed exclusively for 6 months, nearly 1,000 deaths among infants could be prevented. Breastfeeding has also been shown to significantly decrease the risk of acute infections as well as the development of type I and type II diabetes, and childhood leukemia. Additionally, breastfeeding is associated with fewer cases of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Recent and past studies have also shown that children who nursed for the recommended duration had fewer colds, ear, and throat infections, fewer hospitalizations for respiratory infections, and a reduced risk of asthma. They even scored higher on intelligence tests.
But the benefits don’t end with the child. Mothers who breastfeed have a lower incidence of breast and ovarian cancer, cardiovascular diseases, type II diabetes, and post partum depression. (Source: US Dept of Health and Human Service, Women's Health Office)
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.
A Great Decision, But Not Always Easy
- Local data from the two maternity care hospitals in Lincoln, reports that 91% of moms intend to breastfeed.
- According to the 2020 Center for Disease Control and Prevention Breastfeeding Report Card, while infants born in 2017 started breastfeeding (84.1%), only 58.3% of infants were breastfeeding at 6 months. The percentage of breastfed infants supplemented with infant formula before 2 days of age was 19.2% among infants born in 2017, an increase from 16.9% among infants born in 2016.
- Local Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Data – Lancaster County most recent data (Oct. 2020 through Sept. 2021) show that 82.4% mothers in the WIC program began breastfeeding, but by 6 months, only 26.0% were still breastfeeding.
This data implies that while most moms intend to breastfeed, most are not making it to the 6 month mark. Why? Mom’s report three significant challenges to breastfeeding for the recommended duration:
- Lack of family support and encouragement
- Lack of workplace support
- Inconsistent or sparse information from healthcare providers
Moms need more support. Below are links where moms can find help.
What to Expect in the Hospital - Breastfeeding friendly hospital procedures.
Skin to Skin - The first hours after delivery are an important time. Immediate mother and child skin to skin contact is recommended and encouraged with many benefits for both baby and mother. View or download Skin to Skin poster/flyer
Lactation Consulting - Learning to Breastfeed, Breastfeeding Challenges - Some practices have certified lactation (breastfeeding) consultants on staff to answer your questions about breastfeeding. If you need help getting started or are experiencing difficulties and/or pain with breastfeeding, talk to an IBCLC (International Board Certified Breastfeeding Consultant) in your provider office or contact MilkWorks to talk to an IBCLC on staff there.
Breastfeeding FAQs - At this link, find the answers to the most commonly asked questions about breastfeeding (Womenshealth.gov)
Building Your Family Support Network - Building family support for your choice to breastfeed helps everyone share in the joy of the new baby.
Marijuana Use and Breastfeeding - Consuming marijuana (cannabis, weed, pot, etc.) can affect the health of your baby and is not recommended for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, who plan to become pregnant soon, or are caring for a child. Click on the link to view or download an informational flyer.
Mother’s Milk Depots
Donor milk is a wonderful way for babies to receive human milk when a mother is unable to provide enough milk for her own baby. It is particularly helpful to nourish premature babies. When a mother’s own milk is not available, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that premature infants receive pasteurized milk from human donors. Donor breast milk helps preterm or medically fragile babies build strong immune systems and is easier on their digestive systems. If you have excess milk and would like to donate or just want more information, visit these links:
Cultural Peer to Peer Support
Through a joint collaboration with Partnership for a Healthy Lincoln, 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 support to mothers in their homes and communities. Community Breastfeeding Educators help new mothers and mothers new to America with challenges they may face on their breastfeeding journeys. In this video the educators talk about the challenges they faced as new moms. Find breastfeeding information in a choice of languages from this playlist.
MilkWorks, a non-profit dedicated to supporting the breastfeeding journeys of every family, provides oversight, mentoring, training, and support for the CBEs. Currently, 37 CBEs offer peer counseling in 27 languages.
Community Breastfeeding Educators help new mothers and mothers new to America with challenges they may face on their breastfeeding journeys. In this video the educators talk about the challenges they faced as new moms. Find breastfeeding information in a choice of languages from this playlist. For more contact information: Download a brochure about CBEs.
MilkWorks - MilkWorks is a non-profit, community breastfeeding center in Lincoln, 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 coalition 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.
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 Services – 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.
Bluestem Health - Bluestem Health provides medical, dental and behavioral health services. On site breastfeeding support includes breastfeeding education and information, lactation counseling, and pumping clinics for low to moderate income families. Bluestem has an onsite Community Breastfeeding Educator and Spanish language interpretation.
Malone Community Center - The Malone Center serves African American students and their families through a variety of services and outreach. The Center has an onsite Community Breastfeeding Educator and offers breastfeeding support groups including (1) Empowering Pregnant & Parenting Teens Support Group (2) Melanin Mommas Breastfeeding Support Group and (3) Breastfeeding 101- an educational class for families, friends and community members.
Asian Community and Cultural Center - The Asian Center provides services and programs serving immigrant and refugee families in Lincoln. The center has onsite Community Breastfeeding Educators and provides breastfeeding education and information in several languages for mothers and families new to America from Asian, African, and Middle eastern countries at the center, within their community or homes of the families they serve.
El Centro de las Americas - El Centro provides services in the areas of education, family support, youth empowerment, health, and resource navigation for Lincoln’s Hispanic/Latino community. The center has an onsite Community Breastfeeding Educator and provides breastfeeding education and information in English and Spanish at the center and within the community or homes of the families they serve. Informacion de Amamantar en Espanol
Lincoln Family Medicine Center - Lincoln Family Medicine provides a wide range of acute, chronic, and preventive medical care including (1) Prenatal care through Birth and Postpartum (2) Childhood through Adolescent , and (3) Adulthood to End-of-life Care. The center has an onsite Community Breastfeeding Educator and provides breastfeeding education and information in English and Spanish at the center.
Returning to Work
Returning to work while breastfeeding can require some adjustment but can be successfully accomplished. First of all, know the law:
Nebraska Fair Employment Practice Act LB 627 (FEPA):
Effective August 30, 2015, Nebraska companies with 15 or more salaried or hourly employees must comply to making reasonable accommodations for break time and appropriate facilities for breastfeeding or expressing breast milk.
Under the Nebraska FEPA, breastfeeding moms are now a protected class similar to race and disability. Employers cannot discriminate on the basis of color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, marital status, and now an individual who’s pregnant, given birth or has a related medical condition (breastfeeding).
Discrimination includes not making “reasonable accommodations” for breastfeeding employees including time off to recover from childbirth or break time and appropriate facilities for breastfeeding or expressing milk.
Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) 2010
The FLSA is a federal law applying to any company of 50 or more employees with regard to lactation support. Under this law, an employer shall provide:
- a reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk
- a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from co-workers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk. An employer shall not be required to compensate an employee for pumping breaks unless they are already providing compensated breaks.
Speak to your employer during your pregnancy to understand their policies and find out what accommodations they can make for expressing and storing your milk safely, privately, and in a clean environment. Mothers who breastfeed miss less work to care for sick infants than mothers who feed their infants formula. Employer medical costs are also lower. Benefits for employers include higher productivity, lower health care costs, decreased absenteeism, higher loyalty, lower turnover rates, better job satisfaction, and enhanced overall company image and recruiting benefits.
Work with your employer to find a suitable solution. You can assist your employer by referring them to our resource page for employers. If your employer is non-compliant with federal law, find help here.
Helpful Resources for Returning to Work, School
- LLCHD WIC
Classes on Returning to Work or School
US Dept of Health & Human Services
The Business Case for Breastfeeding, An Employee's Guide for Returning to Work (downloadable document)
Childcare Considerations While Breastfeeding
When a mother must be separated from her baby, it is important that baby’s caregiver (dad, family members, day care providers) understand how to handle and store human milk, as well as tips on introducing baby to a bottle or cup. Tips for Childcare Providers.
Breastfeeding in Public
Know the law. Nebraska has laws that protect your right to breastfeed in public:
Nebraska State Statute LB 197- Allow Breastfeeding as Prescribed
Nebraska was one of the last remaining states to pass a law in 2011 that gives a woman the legal right to breastfeed her child in any public or private location where the mother is otherwise authorized to be.
Sometimes our society is uncomfortable being reminded of the original function of breasts, which is to feed a child. But public perception is improving. For example, “Nursing Nooks”, portable, private space for nursing mothers are now available in some public places, like the Pinnacle Bank Arena, for moms who attend events at the arena. Any type of public support for breastfeeding removes barriers and has the potential to make it easier for mothers to breastfeed.