It couldn’t have come at a better time. As we are rewriting policy and hammering out procedures, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published their revised Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk policy statement. It’s an easy 10-page read, and every maternity nurse and expecting family should read it. Click here to do just that.
You can choose and share your favorite points. Here are mine.
#1 Breast milk feeding is the normative standard.
Truly my No. 1 favorite part is the first two sentences. “Breastfeeding and human milk are the normative standards for infant feeding and nutrition. Given the documented short- and long-term medical and neurodevelopmental advantages of breastfeeding, infant nutrition should be considered a public health issue and not only a lifestyle choice.”
#2 Human milk feeding prevents Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
“…exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months and weaning after 1 year is the most effective intervention, with the potential of preventing more than 1 million infant deaths per year, equal to preventing 13% of the world’s childhood mortality.” Let’s shout this from the rooftops of our community! Then, let’s do everything we can to help make breastfeeding work for families!
#3 AAP endorses the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, as does the US Surgeon General, the Centers for Disease Control and the Joint Commission.
“Hospital routines to encourage and support the initiation and sustaining of exclusive breastfeeding should be based on the American Academy of Pediatrics-endorsed WHO/UNICEF ‘Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding.’ National strategies supported by the US Surgeon General’s Call to Action, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and The Joint Commission are involved to facilitate breastfeeding practices in U.S. hospitals and communities.”
#4 Breastfeeding makes us all healthier.
If you haven’t seen this all in one place before, brace yourself. It’s astounding! The AAP policy statement reaffirms research correlating breast milk feeding with decreased risk of respiratory tract infections, otitis media, gastrointestinal tract infections, necrotizing enterocolitis, SIDS, allergies, celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, diabetes, as well as childhood leukemia and lymphonma. Neurodevelopmental outcomes (intelligence!), especially for the preterm infant, are potentially improved. Mothers are less likely to become depressed, abuse or neglect their children, be overweight, have type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
#5 Breast milk feeding saves money, BIG money!
“…if 90% of U.S. mothers would comply with the recommendation to breastfeed exclusively for 6 months, there would be a savings of $13 billion per year. The savings do not include those related to a reduction in parental absenteeism from work or adult deaths from diseases acquired in childhood…” Furthermore, for women in the workplace, “The return on investment has been calculated that for every $1 invested in creating and supporting a lactation support program … there is a $2 to $3 dollar return.”
Nurses and physicians reading this may think, “This is a lot of pressure to put on mothers. I don’t want to make them feel guilty if breastfeeding doesn’t work out.” We need to redirect that kind of thinking right back around onto ourselves. This is a lot of pressure on us, the medical professionals. Twenty years of research has shown us that specific hospital practices are correlated with breastfeeding success. Some of these practices are inconvenient. It’s time to shrug it off, make the necessary changes and do it for the health of our community.