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. Increasing breastfeeding rates can save billions of dollars by preventing acute illnesses in infants as well as many costly chronic diseases in mothers and children.
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.
- Breastfeeding is a proven primary prevention strategy, 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 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
- A study of the pediatric health burden from current breastfeeding rates shows that, if 90% of U.S. mothers exclusively breastfed for six months, the nation could save $13 billion and prevent the loss of 911 lives, annually.
- A similar study estimates the maternal health burden, showing that suboptimal breastfeeding rates incur a total of $17.4 billion in annual cost to society resulting from premature death, $733.7 million in direct health care costs, and $126.1 million in indirect costs (time away from work).
- Breastfeeding is green: no packaging, fuel to prepare, or transportation to deliver; it reduces the carbon footprint by saving precious global resources and energy.
Many federal agencies have begun to implement recommendations of The Surgeon General's Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding...
The Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) "Healthy People" initiative 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, and address and measure recognized barriers to breastfeeding success.
The National Prevention Strategy also recommends support for policies and programs that promote breastfeeding, and the Institute of Medicine report, Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention, calls for promotion of "breastfeeding-friendly environments."
...but Congressional action is urgently needed to remove barriers to breastfeeding success.
The great majority of pregnant women and new mothers want to breastfeed, but they face significant barriers in community, health care, and employment settings. Thank you for your careful consideration of the following policy priorities you can move forward in the 114th Congress to help support breastfeeding:
- Increase support for breastfeeding as part of existing community-based programs: e.g., the Women, Infants & Children (WIC) program, home visiting, Healthy Start, and community health centers;
- Authorize the FDA to regulate confusing and misleading infant formula marketing and labeling practices;
- Support establishment of public spaces that are breastfeeding-friendly;
- Maintain support for the CDC's maternity care practice improvement initiatives;
- Ensure equitable access to and effective implementation of insurance coverage for breastfeeding support and equipment, especially including alignment of Medicaid coverage to existing provisions for private plans and TRICARE;
- Extend the existing federal "Nursing Breaks" law to salaried workers and strengthen enforcement;
- Establish paid family leave as a self-funded national insurance program that supports workers and businesses; and
- Ensure that breastfeeding mothers can't be fired or discriminated against in the workplace.
Welcome 114th Congress Event
On January 22, 2015, MomsRising and USBC volunteers delivered special welcome kits to every member of the new 114th Congress, reminding them that "Breastfeeding Saves Dollars and Makes Sense" and asking them to help "make change" for our nation's families. Each welcome kit included a mini fanny pack "change holder" with a dollar-themed info card and wooden coins tucked inside. The welcome message gathered more than 15,000 signatures, calling for Congressional action on priorities compiled from YOUR feedback on our December Virtual Town Hall Meeting, and informed by input from our network of national member and partner organizations and breastfeeding coalitions. Each kit also included a state fact sheet with information about the state's progress towards HealthyPeople 2020 breastfeeding objectives, federally funded breastfeeding projects, and state breastfeeding coalition.