Breastfeeding offers many health benefits to mothers, parents, babies, and society. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. They recommend that, as desired and able, breastfeeding continues for at least one year as complementary foods are introduced.
How do we support breastfeeding?
We promote comprehensive lactation services. This includes:
- Lactation support and counseling
- Education both for employers and people who want to breastfeed their child
- Health and safety information
- Breastfeeding equipment and supplies
We invest in work that:
- Equips families to achieve healthy lifestyles
- Promotes healthy weight among all children, including those with special health care needs
- Helps with the initiation and duration of breastfeeding
Are breastfeeding activities integrated into MCHB initiatives?
Yes. Many programs integrate breastfeeding.
Many states support breastfeeding with their MCH Block Grant program. Breastfeeding is one of the Title V’s National Performance Measures (NPMs). By monitoring rates of breastfeeding throughout the country, we can see how population health can improve.
This investment spurs national guidelines for women’s checkups. The Women’s Preventive Services Initiative recommends comprehensive lactation support services. This includes access to counseling and education during and after pregnancy. It also includes access to breastfeeding equipment and supplies.
The Healthy Start Supplement: Community-Based Doulas program provides doula services at the community level. As part of their work, doulas can provide lactation education and counseling to help parents start and maintain breastfeeding.
The Healthy Start Technical Assistance & Support Center (TASC) provides expertise that includes lactation resources.
Home visitors support healthy pregnancy practices, provide information on topics such as breastfeeding, and connect families to services and resources in their community like International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC) and Certified Lactation Counselors (CLC).
Program grantees collect and report on the percent of infants (among mothers who enrolled in home visiting prenatally) who were breastfed any amount at six months of age.
This work helps state Title V programs improve their knowledge, skills, and tools to successfully integrate public health nutrition. For example, the Oregon plan includes:
- Training in culturally specific approaches to breastfeeding promotion and support for those partnering with tribal members, African American/Black and communities of color
- Promotion and support for laws and policies for pregnant and breastfeeding people in the workforce, with a focus on those facing additional barriers
Provides resources to healthcare providers, such as the following policy statements:
This annual survey collects information about infant feeding practices.
What resources can maternal and child health (MCH) professionals use?
Explore and use the following resources:
The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health provides:
- Healthy People 2030 – Goal: Improve the health and safety of infants
- Infants – Evidence-Based Resources
The CDC provides the Breastfeeding Report Card that provides a compilation of data on breastfeeding practices and supports in all states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.
The USDA stands up the WIC Breastfeeding Support website for the public, and also contains resources MCH professionals can share with their clients.
The Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS) provides a service called Mother to Baby. Through their website, access patient education and provider resources.
How does MCHB work with other federal offices?
We work with other federal agencies such as USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, and NIH’s National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Results of those efforts include:
- Quarterly meetings with the Federal Interagency Breastfeeding Workgroup (FIBWG)
- A joint letter to encouraging the collaboration at the state and local levels (PDF - 171 KB) between the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program and Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program