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World Breastfeeding Week : Surgeon General Talks Breastfeeding

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Picture 6
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World Breastfeeding Week.

The week dedicated to breastfeeding is here and its aim is to highlight the benefits of breastfeeding and to encourage the support of mothers who want to breastfeed.

“I hope World Breastfeeding Week will spark conversations and efforts that will support women who want to breastfeed,” said Surgeon General, Regina M. Benjamin, MD said in a statement.

Breastfeeding is regarded as one of the most effective ways to protect the health of an infant and mother. It’s known to protect babies from infections and illnesses as well as childhood obesity while mothers who breastfeed have a decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancers.

According to a statement released by the US Department of Health & Human Services, many mothers who attempt to breastfeed say several factors impede their efforts, such as a lack of support at home; absence of family members who have experience with breastfeeding; a lack of breastfeeding information from health care clinicians; a lack of time and privacy to breastfeed or express milk at the workplace; and an inability to connect with other breastfeeding mothers in their communities.

“Earlier this year, I released the Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding which outlines steps that can be taken to remove some of the obstacles faced by women who want to breastfeed their babies,” said Surgeon General, Regina M. Benjamin, MD.

In January, Benjamin issued a “Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding,” outlining steps that can be taken to remove some of the obstacles faced by women who want to breastfeed their babies. “Call to Action” identifies ways that families, communities, employers and health care professionals can improve breastfeeding rates and increase support for breastfeeding. These include, communities should expand and improve programs that provide mother-to-mother support and peer counseling, health care systems should ensure that maternity care practices provide education and counseling on breastfeeding.  Hospitals should become more “baby-friendly,” by taking steps like those recommended by the UNICEF/WHO’s Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, clinicians should ensure that they are trained to properly care for breastfeeding mothers and babies.  They should promote breastfeeding to their pregnant patients and make sure that mothers receive the best advice on how to breastfeed, employers should work toward establishing paid maternity leave and high-quality lactation support programs.  Employers should expand the use of programs that allow nursing mothers to have their babies close by so they can feed them during the day.  They should also provide women with break time and private space to express breast milk, and families should give mothers the support and encouragement they need to breastfeed.

“The Affordable Care Act has made significant progress to support breastfeeding, which include historic new insurance guidelines that will ensure millions of women receive preventive health services without a co-pay or deductible. These new guidelines, developed by the independent Institute of Medicine, require insurance companies to cover certain women’s preventive services, including breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling,” said Benjamin. “In addition, the ACA amends the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 by having employers provide reasonable break time and a place, other than a restroom, that is private and clean for a mother to express milk.”

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