Surgeon General Stresses Barriers to Breastfeeding
Many mothers face obstacles in their attempts to breastfeed their babies, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin said in issuing a “call to action” to support breastfeeding.
“Many barriers exist for mothers who want to breastfeed,” Benjamin said. “They shouldn’t have to go it alone. Whether you’re a clinician, a family member, a friend or an employer, you can play an important part in helping mothers who want to breastfeed.”
Those barriers to breastfeeding include:
• A lack of support at home.
• A lack 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 pump milk at the workplace.
• A lack of communication with other breastfeeding mothers.
Seventy-five percent of mothers in the United States start out breastfeeding, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At the end of six months, however, the breastfeeding rate drops to 43 percent.
By 2010, federal health officials hope to raise breastfeeding rates to 82 percent for any time during infancy and 61 percent at the six-month mark.
“Of course, the decision to breastfeed is a personal one,” Benjamin said. “No mother should be made to feel guilty if she cannot or chooses not to breastfeed.”
In her call to action, Benjamin listed several benefits of breastfeeding:
• Breastfeeding protects babies from ailments such as diarrhea, ear infections and pneumonia.
• Breastfed babies are less likely to develop asthma.
• Children who are breastfed for six months are less likely to become obese.
• Breastfeeding also reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
• Mothers who breastfeed have a decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancers.
“I believe that we as a nation are beginning to see a shift in how we think and talk about breastfeeding,” Benjamin said. “With this call to action, I am urging everyone to help make breastfeeding easier.”Continued on the next page