Surgeon General’s Call to Action: Support Breastfeeding

U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, MD, is urging communities, health care systems and employers to make breastfeeding easier for mothers who wish to do so, according to WebMD.In a “call to action”, Benjamin addressed the U.S. breastfeeding rate, which she said is far from optimal. While 75 percent of mothers breastfeed their newborns, the number of infants who are still breastfed exclusively drops to 13 percent by the time the infants are six months old.

This is despite the benefits of breastfeeding, which include lower risks of asthma, sudden infant death syndrome and later obesity for the infant, and lower risks of ovarian and breast cancer for the mother.

”One of the most highly effective preventive measures a mother can take to protect her child and her own self is to breastfeed,” Benjamin said in a news conference in Washington, D.C.

The problem is that mothers wishing to breastfeed face multiple barriers, Benjamin said.  She listed a number of steps to help break down these barriers, which include:

  • Education and counseling on breastfeeding from local hospitals
  • Expansion and improvement of community programs that provide support for mothers
  • Promotion of breastfeeding by doctors
  • Lactaction support programs at the workplace (which includes clean areas, other than restrooms, for mothers to breastfeed in)

Benjamin hopes that putting these programs into place will help to combat the lack of knowledge, poor social and employer support, and embarrassment associated breastfeeding, which tend to be the reasons why so many mothers to discontinue the practice prematurely.

“Everyone can help make breastfeeding easier,” Benjamin said.  “But the decision to breastfeed is really a personal one. No mother should be made to feel guilty if she cannot or does not want to breastfeed.”

Click here to read more from WebMD.