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
- The Department of Health and 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 also address and measure recognized barriers to breastfeeding success. In the National Prevention Strategy, HHS also recommends support for policies and programs that promote breastfeeding.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recognizes that maternity care practice improvement is a key national strategy and 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.
- The HHS Business Case for Breastfeeding is a comprehensive program designed to educate employers about the value of supporting breastfeeding employees, and to provide tools and guidance for implementation.
- 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.
Improved Workplace Accommodations. One of the main causes for the drop-off in breastfeeding rates is the lack of effective, reasonable workplace accommodations. While more than three out of four U.S. mothers initiate breastfeeding, less than half of these moms are still breastfeeding at six months postpartum. Workplace lactation support is simple and cost-effective for employers and critical for employees' breastfeeding success. Legislative action is needed to ensure that the federal law that requires employers to provide unpaid break time and a place for mothers to express breast milk covers ALL working mothers.
Improved Maternity Care Practices. Birth facility practices often reflect clinicians’ personal experiences and may be based on misinformation that interferes with breastfeeding. "Baby-Friendly" designated hospitals use the bundle of evidence-based care processes that most effectively support all mothers to be able to carry out their own infant feeding intentions and decisions. Federal policy should continue to support expansion of public health agencies’ capacity to provide assessment of and technical assistance with Baby-Friendly practices, and creation of incentives for participation.
Improved Consumer Protections regarding Infant Formula Labeling and Marketing Claims. Too many new mothers receive free formula while they are still pregnant and arrive home from the hospital to see advertisements on television, on the Internet, and in publications touting the admirable qualities and attractiveness of infant formula. Federal policy should help hold marketers of infant formula accountable for complying with the International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes, and should take steps to ensure that claims about formula are truthful and not misleading.
About this Event/Action
On Thursday, January 24, 2013, USBC and MomsRising volunteers hand-delivered over 7,500 signatures on a welcome note to Congress asking them to make protection and support of breastfeeding families a priority in the new 113th session. The welcome packages included our "funny money" (shown at the top of this page): a dollar-shaped notepad and coin-shaped magnet, each featuring the phrase "Breastfeeding Saves Dollars and Makes Sense."