FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 20, 2019
Contact: Camille Abbe
Phone: 773-359-1549 x 27
Paid Family Leave Ranks Highest on Recent Breastfeeding Policy Priorities Survey
USBC “Welcome Congress Week” Activities Introduce Legislators to Policy Topics Important to Protecting, Promoting, and Supporting Breastfeeding Families
CHICAGO, Illinois—In a recent survey of breastfeeding supporters, “increasing access to paid family leave” ranked the highest among policy priorities identified by members of the First Food field (lactation support professionals, breastfeeding coalition members, and advocates). The United States Breastfeeding Committee issued the online survey in late 2018, which had nearly 2,000 respondents (1,851). Of survey respondents, 74.63% have witnessed friends, family, and/or coworkers face unnecessary barriers to breastfeeding, something “Welcome Congress Week” was created to illuminate.
The survey offered 23 policy choices, plus write in options, with the top five identified as:
- Increasing access to paid family leave
- Maintaining health plan coverage of breastfeeding support & supplies
- Supporting working parents
- Maintaining federal funding for breastfeeding support programs
- Increasing access to lactation support providers
Paid leave is an important topic because only 17% of the US workforce has any paid family leave through an employer. More than half of mothers enter or return to the labor force before their children turn one year old, with as many as one in four women returning within just two weeks of giving birth. Families of color and low-income women are more likely to return to work earlier and have jobs that make it challenging to continue breastfeeding, contributing to lifelong health inequities. Only four percent of the lowest-paid workers (those paid $10 or less per hour) have paid family leave, compared to 27% of the highest-paid workers.
Providing an opportunity to inform legislators about their role in making a positive impact for families via these five policy priorities, the USBC is hosting “Welcome Congress Week” February 18-22, a week of quick actions designed to connect breastfeeding supporters with their legislators. The week is scheduled when legislators are in-district, so, while many of the actions are virtual (social media, email, phone), advocates will also have an opportunity to connect with them in person. While Welcome Congress Week is scheduled for February 18-22, the actions can be completed at any time, making it accessible and inclusive to any breastfeeding advocate's schedule.
"As the national breastfeeding coalition in the United States, we are mobilizing breastfeeding supporters to call on Members of Congress to make the policy changes that breastfeeding families need most. By coming together to share the same message at the same time, we can amplify the impact of our advocacy efforts. This new Congress is already showing interest in passing policies supportive of breastfeeding and families, so we hope to continue with that progress while welcoming in this new group of legislators,” says Amelia Psmythe, Interim Executive Director of the USBC.
"Together we continue to step forward toward a world where breastfeeding families across our country are seamlessly supported by their healthcare providers, through their insurance policies, and at their places of work, (including in the military). We look forward to continuing to support breastfeeding people and families in all places and spaces, with a particular focus on reducing the stark disparities in breastfeeding rates that contribute to lifelong health inequities for families of color" says Mona Liza Hamlin, Chair of the USBC.
The U.S. Breastfeeding Committee is national nonprofit organization that works to "drive collaborative efforts for policy and practices that create a landscape of breastfeeding support across the United States," with a focus on the values of leadership, integrity and inclusion. USBC is made up of member organizations, including federal agencies and national non-profit organizations, state breastfeeding coalitions, and action-focused work groups known as Constellations.
For more information and fact sheets on the top five policy priorities, visit: