Donate Now: Become a Friend of USBC Site Search Get Involved: Sign Up for News & Action Alerts
Breastfeeding is Bipartisan:
Good for Families, Employers, and the Economy

The evidence is clear: All major medical authorities recommend that babies get no food or drink other than human milk for their first six months and continue to breastfeed for at least the first 1-2 years of life.

Good for Families

  • Human milk is the preferred and most appropriate source of infant nutrition, adapting over time to meet the changing needs of the growing child.
  • A proven primary prevention strategy, breastfeeding protects both infants and mothers from a host of chronic and acute diseases and conditions, building a foundation for life-long health and wellness.
  • The act of breastfeeding builds a strong emotional connection between the mother and infant.

Good for Employers

  • More than 50% of women with infants less than one year old are in the labor force.
  • Employers that provide lactation support experience an impressive return on investment, including lower health care costs, absenteeism, and turnover rates, and improved morale, job satisfaction, and productivity.
  • The retention rate for employees of companies with lactation support programs is 94%; the national average is 59%.

Good for the Economy

Your constituents want to breastfeed and they're counting on YOU to help them reach their goals. Action is needed to remove barriers to breastfeeding success.

  • Although the majority (76.9%) of mothers choose to breastfeed, by six months only 47.2% are still breastfeeding (only 16.3% exclusively), while only 25.5% are still breastfeeding at one year. See the 2012 CDC Breastfeeding Report Card to find out how your state is doing with helping moms reach their goals.
  • The CDC and FDA recently found that 60% of women do not even meet their own breastfeeding goals.
  • Hospital practices, employment policies, lack of knowledgeable and skilled providers, lack of access to lactation consultants, and community and social factors all compound to make it difficult for women to achieve their goals.

Many national initiatives are already doing their part…

  • Healthy People sets science-based, ten-year national objectives for improving the health of all Americans. The 2020 objectives call for increased breastfeeding initiation, duration, and exclusivity, while also addressing and measuring recognized barriers to breastfeeding success.
  • Maternity care practice improvements are a key national strategy. CDC is supporting Best Fed Beginnings, an effort by the National Initiative for Children's Healthcare Quality (NICHQ) to help hospitals nationwide make quality improvements to better support mothers and babies to breastfeed.
  • Breastfeeding support is also critical in the employment arena: one-third of new mothers return to work within three months of giving birth, two-thirds within six months. The Business Case for Breastfeeding is a comprehensive program designed to educate employers about the value of supporting breastfeeding employees and provide tools and guidance for implementation.
  • The Institute of Medicine report, Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention, calls in Strategy 4-4 to "promote breastfeeding-friendly environments" and the National Prevention Strategy recommends support for policies and programs that promote breastfeeding.

…policymakers also have a critical role to play to implement these and other strategies recommended by The Surgeon General's Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding.

  • Establish peer counseling as a core service available to all women in WIC.
  • Accelerate implementation of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative.
  • Hold marketers of infant formula accountable for complying with the International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes, and take steps to ensure that claims about formula are truthful and not misleading.
  • Develop and implement programs in states to establish a funding mechanism for paid maternity leave.
  • Develop resources to help employers comply with federal law that requires employers to provide the time and a place for nursing mothers to express breast milk (and expand coverage of the law to executive, administrative, and professional employees).