Every woman’s journey to motherhood is different, but one of the first decisions a new mom makes is how to feed her child. When you choose to breastfeed, you make an investment in your baby’s future. Breastfeeding allows you to make the food that is perfect for your baby. Your milk gives your baby the healthy start that will last a lifetime.
August is National Breastfeeding Awareness Month. Based on 2013 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 71.8% of women in Florida have ever tried breastfeeding compared to the national average of 76.5%. The Department of Health offers a variety of programs, materials and resources to encourage breastfeeding friendly environments throughout the sunshine state.
Breastfeeding is a normal part of mothers and babies being together. Breastfeeding isn’t just about the milk though. Breastfeeding helps to build a bond that can last a lifetime.
Pediatricians recommend that babies be fed only breast milk for the first 6 months of life. Solid foods should be fed at about 6 months, and breastfeeding should continue until the baby is at least 1 year of age or older.
Support for breastfeeding in the workplace includes several types of employee benefits and services including writing corporate policies to support breastfeeding women; teaching employees about breastfeeding; providing designated private space for breastfeeding or expressing milk; allowing flexible scheduling to support milk expression during work; giving mothers options for returning to work, such as teleworking, part-time work, and extended maternity leave; providing onsite or near-site child care; providing high-quality breast pumps and refrigerated storage; and offering or referring professional lactation management services and support.
With nearly 11 million American children in some form of child care each year, the role of the child care setting and provider is significant. Child care providers have a unique opportunity to normalize, promote, and encourage breastfeeding. Breastfeeding and returning to work or school can be overwhelming. Even mothers who successfully initiated breastfeeding tend to stop around the time they return to work or school and enroll their baby in child care.
The Florida Child Care Food Program (CCFP) recognizes participating facilities that are breastfeeding friendly. Facilities that meet CCFP’s six standards and have a baby-friendly policy in place are eligible for recognition. The CCFP and the Florida Breastfeeding Coalition (FBC) have collaborated to offer a similar recognition to facilities that do not participate in the CCFP. In recognition of Breastfeeding Awareness Month, the CCFP and FBC developed an online training module, Creating a Breastfeeding Friendly Child Care Facility.
Hospitals play a critical role in helping mothers who choose to breastfeed. Florida hospitals can support breastfeeding initiation and duration by following the evidence-based practices in the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, endorsed and promoted by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, UNICEF and others.
Health care professionals, especially those serving pregnant women, children and new moms, also play a significant role in supporting breastfeeding families. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Practice Physicians, and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), have policy statements and clinical guidelines for providers to best support mothers and babies.
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