August is National Breastfeeding Month!
Earlier this month, we also celebrated World Breastfeeding Week, which has a new theme each year. This year, the theme was “Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility.” The campaign focused on the importance of supporting and empowering breastfeeding people and emphasizes breastfeeding as positive for overall public health. The idea of shared responsibility reminds us that successful breastfeeding is reliant on more than a mother and baby, it calls for a community of support.
Despite the known health benefits (for both mom and baby), mothers still face significant barriers to breastfeeding. Lack of knowledge, social support, and inadequate access to supportive health services all detrimentally affect initiation and continuation of breastfeeding in the United States. As a provider of maternity care, Best Start recognizes its responsibility to maintain a positive environment, rich in supportive resources, that encourages mothers to make educated, empowered decisions surrounding breastfeeding.
The roots for successful breastfeeding relationships are planted long before a baby is even born. The way we, as healthcare providers and as a society, support (or do not support) breastfeeding can greatly impact a mother’s willingness to initiate after birth. The conversations we have about breastfeeding matter. From discussing what to expect in the early days of nursing to providing prescriptions for breast pumps, we aim to help mothers feel prepared.
In the immediate postpartum period, it’s crucial that our policies and procedures are protective of the breastfeeding dyad. Encouraging nursing right away, keeping mom and baby together, and having overall low-intervention births (no epidurals or strong analgesics) are all CDC recommended ways to support breastfeeding that Best Start stands by.
Ninety-seven percent of Best Start Babies are exclusively breastfed at discharge, but we recognize the importance of continued lactation support well into the postpartum period. While breastfeeding itself is undoubtably natural, it doesn’t always come naturally and having access to professional lactation support can go a long way in making breastfeeding a positive experience.
Best Start holds a weekly postpartum and breastfeeding support group that is led by a lactation consultant. The meetings foster a sense of community, connecting moms to peer and professional support. Find more information here.