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Maternal Health

How to Make Breastfeeding Easier for New Parents

We know that breastfeeding is good for babies, but there are still barriers in place making it harder for parents to breastfeed easily.


Nikia Sankofa

Executive Director, U.S. Breastfeeding Committee

Why feed our babies human milk?

Human milk is the biological norm for human babies. It builds a foundation for lifelong health and wellness. Babies can receive human milk at the breast, chest, or via expressed (or pumped) milk from the parent or a milk donor. Medical and public health authorities, including the Department of Health and Human Services, American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and World Health Organization, recommend exclusive human milk feeding for about six months with continued breastfeeding after the introduction of complementary foods.

What increases the likelihood of success?

Eighty-four percent of infants receive human milk at birth, but parents often encounter barriers that make them stop sooner than they intend. Our workplace, healthcare, and social systems fail families and parents bear the burden. We need policy changes to ensure that every parent that chooses human milk feeding has the support and resources to succeed.

Parenting happens in community. Extended family, health and child care providers, workplaces, and others can help make breastfeeding easier. Having resources and support before the baby’s arrival can make a world of difference for new families. Visit the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office on Women’s Health website to learn about the benefits of breastfeeding, how to find lactation support, your rights in the workplace, and more.

How can you help?

Babies feed frequently. Don’t be surprised to encounter a baby feeding at the breast or chest. If you are a friend or family member, offer encouragement or a comfortable place to sit. If you are an employer, become familiar with state and federal guidelines and be proactive in seeking solutions for your lactating employees. If you own a shop, display a “breastfeeding is welcomed here” decal in your window. Everyone can encourage policymakers to implement legislation to make human milk feeding an easy and sustainable option for families. You can also find simple tools to connect with your members of congress on the U.S. Breastfeeding Committee advocacy webpage.

These simple demonstrations of support help normalize breastfeeding and create a welcoming environment. Together we can support individual families, while supporting the public health of all families across the United States.

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