Lamaze Says Breastfeeding Call to Action Critical to Public Health

Top Quote Role of a "good birth" must be considered with other factors. End Quote
  • (1888PressRelease) January 22, 2011 - WASHINGTON - Yesterday, the Surgeon General issued a call to action outlining steps to remove obstacles faced by women who choose to breastfeed-and at a time when chronic disease is on the rise, newborn health outcomes are not improving, and concerns about the ability of the healthcare system to sustain growing healthcare costs are increasing.

    "Many people think of breastfeeding as exceedingly simple, but the reality is that there are significant obstacles that prevent women from being able to start and continue breastfeeding," said former president of Lamaze International and Lamaze's representative to the United States Breastfeeding Committee Jeannette Crenshaw, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, IBCLC, LCCE, FACCE, NEA-BC. "When you consider the evidence showing the impact of breastfeeding on the health of both mothers and babies, and the societal costs of not breastfeeding, it is clear that removing those barriers is key to improving public health." Recent research has shown that the United States could save as much as $13 billion a year if 90 percent of babies were breastfed exclusively for six months.

    The Surgeon General called on all stakeholders - clinicians, employers, family members and friends - to play a role in helping mothers reach their breastfeeding goals. Childbirth educators also have a significant role in helping women successfully breastfeed. Research shows that hospital practices often set into motion early barriers to successful breastfeeding. For example,
    Routine separation of mother and baby just after birth prevents critical bonding and early initiation of breastfeeding. Keeping mothers and babies together reinforces a strong breastfeeding relationship.
    Cesarean surgery often postpones skin-to-skin contact by separating mother and baby, which can delay the initiation of breastfeeding and milk production.
    Supplementing breastmilk with formula or water in the hospital can drive down the baby's demand for breastmilk, reducing a mother's milk supply. Additionally, introducing a bottle before breastfeeding is firmly established can affect the baby's ability to breastfeed effectively.
    Use of pain medication in labor, including epidurals, may lead to a delay in "awakening" a baby's instinctive breastfeeding reflexes and impact breastfeeding success.

    "There is significant focus on the barriers women face after breastfeeding begins. We need to back up that timeline and also focus on the support women need during pregnancy, labor, and birth," said Crenshaw. "We know that there are specific care practices that help women have a safe and healthy birth-and also help women reach their breastfeeding goals. Women deserve to know the positive, healthy practices that set them up for success."

    Based on recommendations by the World Health Organization and backed by extensive research that supports a woman's natural ability to give birth, Lamaze's Six Healthy Birth Practices are:
    Let labor begin on its own.
    Walk, move around and change positions throughout labor.
    Bring a loved one, friend or doula for continuous support.
    Avoid interventions that are not medically necessary.
    Avoid giving birth on your back and follow your body's urges to push.
    Keep mother and baby together; it's best for mother, baby and breastfeeding.

    Maximizing the amount of time a mother and baby are together is part of Lamaze's Six Healthy Birth Practices and promotes successful breastfeeding. Examples of hospital policies that promote, support, and protect breastfeeding include:
    Ensuring women make informed infant feeding decisions.
    Ensuring healthy mothers and babies have immediate, uninterrupted skin-to-skin care until after the first feeding.
    Helping mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
    Ensuring newborns have no food or drink other than breastmilk unless medically indicated.
    Avoiding the use of pacifiers until breastfeeding is firmly established.
    Allowing women and their babies to be together continuously day and night (called "rooming in").
    Providing mothers with breastfeeding support after hospital or birth center discharge.

    To learn more about the Lamaze Six Healthy Birth Practices, please enroll in a Lamaze childbirth education class and visit www.lamaze.org/healthybirthpractices.

    About Lamaze International

    Lamaze International promotes a natural, healthy and safe approach to pregnancy, childbirth and early parenting practices. Knowing that pregnancy and childbirth can be demanding on a woman's body and mind, Lamaze serves as a resource for information about what to expect and what choices are available during the childbearing years. Lamaze education and practices are based on the best and most current medical evidence available. Working closely with their families, healthcare providers and Lamaze educators, millions of pregnant women have achieved their desired childbirth outcomes using Lamaze practices. The best way to learn about Lamaze's steps to a safe and healthy birth is to take a class with a Lamaze certified instructor. To find classes in your area, or for more information visit www.lamaze.org.

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