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Health Care

The third section of The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding focuses on Health Care, calling for six specific actions:

"Health Care" excerpt from Executive Summary: The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding:

Nearly all births in the United States occur in hospital settings, but hospital practices and policies in maternity settings can create barriers to supporting a mother’s decision to breastfeed.

National data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC)ongoing survey of Maternity Practices in Infant Nutrition and Care (mPINC) indicate that hospitals have opportunities to implement practices in labor, delivery, and postpartum care, as well as in hospital discharge planning, that support mothers who want to breastfeed.

Once home from the hospital, mothers need support to continue breastfeeding. Support from health care professionals is particularly important at this time; however, many health professionals need more breastfeeding education and training themselves and often have time constraints that can present barriers. One way this issue is addressed is through coordinated health care systems that partner with community networks to provide breastfeeding support so mothers have access to breastfeeding assistance after they return home. New mothers need access to trained individuals with established relationships in the health care community who are flexible enough to meet mothers’ needs outside of traditional work hours and locations, and provide consistent information.

International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) are an excellent source of assistance for breastfeeding mothers. IBCLCs are health care professionals certified in lactation management. They work with mothers to solve breastfeeding problems and educate families and health care professionals about the benefits of breastfeeding. Research shows that rates of exclusive breastfeeding and of any breastfeeding are higher among women who have had babies in hospitals with IBCLCs on staff than in those without these professionals.