SURGEON GENERAL’S CALL TO ACTION TO SUPPORT BREASTFEEDING
(MOBILE, Al.) Jan. 20, 2011-Being a new mom can be overwhelming, but if you are also a career woman trying to go back into the corporate sector, the level of anxiety and exhaustion can hit a fevered pitch. But help is on the way! This week Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin issued a “Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding,” outlining steps that can be taken to remove the stigma and obstacles faced by women who want to breastfeed their babies.
Before her scheduled news conference in Washington, D.C., I got a chance to talk exclusively with the Mobile native about her plan. “It’s a call to action to help improve breastfeeding and make it healthier for women who chose to breast feed,” Dr. Benjamin said. “There are many benefits to breastfeeding and mothers shouldn’t have to go it alone. Breast feeding is natural and though the ratio of women breastfeeding is not as high as it should be, it’s important that we support women who want to breastfeed in society.”
While 75 percent of U.S. babies start out breastfeeding, the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions says, only 13 percent are exclusively breastfed at the end of six months. The rates are particularly low among African-American babies. Many mothers who choose to breastfeed often talk about the lack of support at home; the stigma attached to breastfeeding in public; plus an absence of family members who have experience with breastfeeding. “In many cases many women who start breastfeeding find they can’t continue because they don’t have the support at home or work to continue it”, Dr. Benjamin said. “It is important they have a clean place to pump their milk, a private place to place they milk if they want to pump or to have their babies breast feed.”
The Surgeon General is also urging employers to help by providing a safe and sanitary place for mothers to express and store pumped milk. “New mothers pump several times a day and they need a refrigerator to put it in when you’re at work or school,” said Dr. Benjamin. During Thursday’s news conference, the Surgeon General plans to detail the benefits of breastfeeding.
“We talk about obesity a lot in this country, but a baby who is exclusively breastfeed in their first six months of life is less likely to be obese,” said Dr. Benjamin.
According to the “Call to Action,” breastfeeding also protects babies from infections and illnesses that include diarrhea, ear infections, and pneumonia. Breastfed babies are also less likely to develop asthma. “Recent studies also show mothers who were breastfeed themselves have a decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancers,” Dr. Benjamin said.
A study published last year in the journal Pediatrics estimated that the nation would save $13 billion per year in health care and other costs if 90 percent of U.S. babies were exclusively breastfed for six months. Dr. Benjamin added that, by providing accommodations for nursing mothers, employers can reduce their company’s health care costs and lower their absenteeism and turnover rates.
“I believe that we as a nation are beginning to see a shift in how we think and talk about breastfeed”, said Dr. Benjamin. With this “Call to Action”, I’m urging everyone to help make breastfeeding easier.
To order printed copies of the Surgeon General’s “Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding” and other materials, please call 1-800-CDC-INFO or email email@example.com and reference the publication title.
For more information on breastfeeding, go to www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding or www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding/. To speak with a breastfeeding counselor call 1-800-994-9662 Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM ET