Most U.S. women initiate breastfeeding as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, but there can be challenges to breastfeeding success. There are rare medical conditions that keep mothers from breastfeeding, and there are other barriers, such as going back to work. If breastfeeding is your desired feeding choice for your baby, we here at the Center for Breastfeeding Medicine are here to help you reach your breastfeeding goals. We know the nutritional and immunological life-time benefits for you and your baby are unmatched.
The Benefits of Breastfeeding
We know the the benefits of breastfeeding are vast.
Babies who are breastfed have:
- A lower risk of pneumonia requiring hospitalization, including RSV pneumonia.
- A lower risk of ear infections, diarrhea, and chronic conditions such as diabetes, asthma, allergies, leukemia, and obesity.
- A reduced risk of sudden infant death syndrome with any breastfeeding for at least 2 months.
- A 26% reduced risk for all cause infant mortality (death of an infant before the first birthday). A recent U.S. study of 3 million babies found a decreased risk of infant mortality associated with the initiation of any breastfeeding.
- Less necrotizing enterocolitis, a condition that can be fatal for premature babies.
- Mothers have a reduced risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.
Breastfeeding by the Numbers
The good news is 84% of US women now initiate breastfeeding, but only 35% are still providing any milk at 1 year. In addition, only 25% are still exclusively breastfeeding at 6 months, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, with a new recommendation for breastfeeding to continue for two years and beyond.
Disparities in breastfeeding also exist at every stage, with less breastfeeding in the non-Hispanic Black population. The disparity in breastfeeding statistics across neighborhoods here in Hamilton County is staggering. Only 50% of babies receive any mother’s milk in one neighborhood, compared to almost every baby in another neighborhood. Over 60% of mothers are not reaching their own breastfeeding goals. The numbers show we need to all work together to help each mom reach their breastfeeding goals.
Look for Local Resources
We recognize that breastfeeding does not come easily for all women and it is important for moms to find local resources available to help initiate and continue breastfeeding. To begin, I recommend that families take a breastfeeding class in the prenatal period and ask for help in the birth hospital immediately after birth, putting the baby skin-to-skin right after delivery.
Our regional birth hospitals are incorporating maternity practices that support breastfeeding. We also recommend that all babies see their primary care provider within 24-48 hours after discharge. Further, in Hamilton County there is help for difficult situations that might occur after discharge such as latching issues, maternal nipple pain, concerns about milk supply, or safety of maternal medications.
- Each area birth hospital has a phone line for moms to call with breastfeeding questions and most provide outpatient lactation visits.
- Cincinnati Children’s Center for Breastfeeding Medicine has outpatient clinic appointments for breastfeeding families at our Burnet, Mason, Green Township and Northern Kentucky campuses, as well as a “warm line” 513-636-2326.
- WIC Clinics all over the city provide breastfeeding counseling and care.
- Peer to Peer Support is available at: virtual weekly AMEN (All Moms Empowered to Nurse) Moms Groups (@amencincy), La Leche League, Baby Cafés, Breastfeeding USA, and MORE! (All of these resources and MORE are listed on the Southwest Ohio Breastfeeding Coalition website.)
Ohio has a new 24 hour Breastfeeding Hotline! Families can call 24/7, 365 days a year and talk to a lactation professional. 1-888-588-3423
HELPING BREASTFEEDING MOMS RETURN TO WORK
One of the largest barriers breastfeeding moms face is returning to the workplace. Part of the Affordable Care Act requires employers to provide reasonable break time and a private, non-bathroom environment for nursing mothers to express breast milk during the workday, for one year after the child’s birth. The Office of Women’s Health has a database of resources available to help mothers and employers navigate this process, whether the mom works in a berry farm, a fast food restaurant, or an office
If your workplace needs help with this workplace breastfeeding support, contact us – we can help!