FOR BREASTFEEDING SUPPORT IN USA
Documentation of accurate, real-time, comprehensive and ongoing breastfeeding status on medical charts at every well baby visit on ALL babies. Make this data available (respecting HIPPA laws) to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and compiled for accurate state and national breastfeeding statistics and analysis. This will give exclusive, partial, and continuation breastfeeding statistics on all babies, not just 1% as is the case with our current “Breastfeeding Report Card”!
Because what gets counted counts in our health care system!
Assessing and documenting comprehensive, accurate, current breastfeeding status on babies can be accomplished in a straightforward, simple manner by asking and recording (on the medical chart) the answers to 4 questions at ALL well baby visits:
How many times does the baby directly breastfeed per 24 hours?
How many ounces of expressed, pumped, banked or donor breast milk does the baby receive per 24 hours?
How many ounces of formula does the baby receive per 24 hours?
When were foods started and how many times in 24 hours does the baby receive solid foods?
Adoption and enforcement of the “WHO CODE” (International Code of Marketing Breastmilk Substitutes) in USA.
National policy/law for 6 months paid family leave in USA.
National/universal paid family leave for 6 months so ALL families can have time to spend with their newborns/families, which will support breastfeeding and increase breastfeeding continuation rates.
All maternal and infant care providers to be Breastfeeding/Baby-Friendly by 2020 and provide government funding to help with the training for this effort.
Currently less than 30% of births in USA occur in Baby-Friendly hospitals, and there is no certification for prenatal care givers.
Increase milk banking in USA.
There are less than 25 milk banks in USA. We need milk banks in every city that has a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at least.
Comprehensive federal laws and policies concerning breastfeeding protection and support.
Currently, each state has a different and confusing version of breastfeeding-in-public laws and very little coverage on the other issues regarding breastfeeding. Because we are an inter-connected society and breastfeeding is a basic public health issue, federal laws would be better for the purpose of breastfeeding rights.
Insurance coverage of all breastfeeding services and supplies.
Breastfeeding services and supplies are primary care and should be covered without co-pays or deductibles required.
Fund and do more research into breastfeeding and breast milk.
A very telling gender discrepancy is the fact that there is twice as much research about erectile dysfunction than about breastfeeding.
Conduct a nation-wide economic analysis comparing the costs of formula feeding/not-breastfeeding and breastfeeding.
This analysis will be possible if we have well-documented breastfeeding statistics on every baby in USA health care system.
Recognize the important economic value of breastfeeding by including it in the USA Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
This will heighten awareness and respect of mothers’ work involved in breastfeeding, and document the need for national resources to be devoted to breastfeeding support.
Increase state and national funding for breastfeeding/lactation education.
Expand breastfeeding education, services, and support to those areas and communities not currently served or not served adequately as evidenced by low breastfeeding rates. More training and educational programs is desperately needed to increase the number of breastfeeding support providers. We especially need more women of color to become IBCLCs, CLCs, and Peer Counselors for breastfeeding equity! African American mothers have the lowest breastfeeding rates due to increased barriers to breastfeeding, and they deserve lactation support in and from their own community.
Officially recognize and honor the founders of La Leche League and the 64-year-old, volunteer, breastfeeding support organization.
The founders of La Leche League deserve a Nobel Peace Prize and other national and international awards for their enduring voluntary service to mothers and babies by offering volunteer breastfeeding support nationwide and internationally. Of the 7 founders (Mary Ann Kerwin, Viola Brennan Lennon, Betty Wagner Spandikow, Edwina Hearn Froehlich, Mary White, Mary Ann Cahill, and Marian Leonard Tompson), only 2 are still alive. The time to recognize them is long overdue, and the fact that they have not been recognized is a prime example of the gender bias in the Nobel Awards. Since the first Prize was awarded in 1901, women have won it 49 times, men 825 times.
Stop formula subsidies at all levels.
WIC should gradually extricate itself from serving the formula industry by increasing breastfeeding services and paying full market price for formula (following “the Code”) which would necessitate a gradual decrease of the supply of formula to WIC participants along with increasing support for breastfeeding. Some of this saved money could be used for more research into improvement of the formula product! More Milk Banks could be established as formula subsidies are decreased. Human Milk needs our subsidies more than formula!
Fund public service announcements and programming (broadcast and online) educating the public and supporting breastfeeding families.
Do not allow formula manufacturers to negatively influence this as they have in the past.
These announcements or short programs would help send strong and positive messages to the public and, over time, help change perceptions and increase acceptance of breastfeeding as the norm in our American culture.
CITIZEN ACTIONS TO GAIN BREASTFEEDING SUPPORT
Organize a national “Call in Sick for Paid Family Leave” day scheduled on a work day. Promote through social media, as well as family organizations and coalitions devoted to mothers and babies. If even 30% of the non-emergency American work force were to call in sick on the proposed day, it would send a strong message advocating for national Paid Family Leave in America!
If even 30% of the childbearing women in America went on a 3-month pregnancy/birth strike, that would send a powerful message to our country that we do have power to withhold birthing future citizens if we don’t get paid family leave! I hope that NOW (National Organization of Women) and other institutions concerning women’s rights will take up this issue.
When you do have a baby, please BREASTFEED! It is work and involves a strong commitment, but breastfeeding is very important for your health as well as your baby’s health. Even if you can’t exclusively breastfeed, do try to partially breastfeed, as it has many benefits also. Breastfeeding is not an all-or-nothing issue, and some mothers have too many barriers to breastfeed fully. We are seeing epigenetic changes in American women from our long history of non-breastfeeding (metabolic syndrome, obesity, diabetes, fertility problems), and these conditions make it harder to breastfeed and can cause low milk supply—this is nature’s message to us—DO IT (breastfeed) OR LOSE IT (our ability to breastfeed)! Consumer demand and practice very is important to driving change in America!
Get involved with La Leche League or another breastfeeding support group or breastfeeding coalition so you can receive support and camaraderie from peers. Start a breastfeeding support group in your area if there is not one that meets your needs.
Share or donate your breast milk if you make and have plenty. Milk sharing is an ancient practice among mothers, and although it is not without risks, there are also risks from formula feeding, and these risks need to be considered in the infant feeding choice. Safe milk sharing guidelines are available from the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine. Milk banks are always in need of donated breast milk! Milk depots make it easier to donate pumped breast milk and are becoming more established in bigger cities.
Request a “Breastfeeding Stamp” in America to increase awareness of the importance of breastfeeding and to raise money to promote breastfeeding in America, the way the breast cancer stamp has been utilized. http://uspsstamps.com/blog/2014/2/26
Join and Form alliances between breastfeeding coalitions and other family/child coalitions and service providers in America!
As a breastfeeding health care consumer, you can ask to add an accurate documentation of your breastfeeding assessment to electronic health records (EHRs), for all well baby/immunization visits at individual health care sites. Advocate for breastfeeding documentation on all EHRs to health and lactation policy.
Sue! If you feel like your health care provider/system/insurance or employer did not give you the breastfeeding education, support, and/or service you feel you were entitled to, and your breastfeeding experience was hampered or thwarted, then you might think about a lawsuit against the persons or system! Sadly, sometimes it takes lawsuits for our systems to change. A prime example of discrimination that occurs is when a health care provider/system does not give breastfeeding education and support/services to a women due to that woman’s culture, race, age or other characteristic.
Write letters to legislative representatives asking for USA to enact the “Code” as described previously, and for the increase of national funding for lactation education and services and for paid family leave, and better and national laws and policies to protect breastfeeding. Expanding the protection of breastfeeding laws to the federal level instead of state-by-state is important so that the laws can be uniform and comprehensive throughout the country and protect all USA breastfeeding mothers and babies. http://breastfeedinglaw.com/
Elect women who understand the need for breastfeeding support to legislative offices to will push for laws and policies to increase breastfeeding support in America. Women are not well represented in state and federal legislative offices, and yet women are over 50% of the population in America! Only 21% of Congress and 25.1% of state legislatures are women. We have never had a woman president in USA. It is time this changed!