Supporting Moms in Achieving Breastfeeding Success
Medela believes in the life-giving benefits that breast milk can provide moms, babies, families, and communities. Sharing and promoting these benefits is an essential part of our commitment to ensuring babies have a healthy start and supporting mothers in achieving breastfeeding success.
We strive to help moms reach their breast milk feeding goals. Medela recognizes that many moms are not able to breastfeed for as long as they want to because of barriers to access and historical obstacles caused by racism and discrimination. Understanding where and why these disparities exist allows Medela and the breastfeeding community to offer the targeted support, access, and education needed for improvement. We actively seek to foster a community of support that is needed to reduce breastfeeding health disparities and support moms on their breastfeeding journeys.
Closing the Breastfeeding Disparities Gap
Overall, the United States is making improvements in breastfeeding rates and infant health. However, some communities continue to experience disparities. Despite improvements in breastfeeding initiation rates, there are disparities in African American and Hispanic communities where initiation and duration rates continue to be lower than others, demonstrating a need for targeted support.
This divide cannot be ignored, and it is the reason Medela has committed to providing targeted support to communities impacted by breastfeeding disparities. Poverty also has an impact on breastfeeding. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also found that infants eligible for and receiving the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) are less likely to ever be breastfed than those who are not on the program. Additionally, black women are more likely to have incomes <100% of the poverty level when compared to white women (49.3% versus 17.8%). They are also more likely to receive WIC (78.2% versus 34.1%) (CDC).
The CDC has identified a number of other complex factors and characteristics which influence a woman's breast milk feeding journey, including:
- Issues with lactation and latching
- Concerns about infant nutrition and weight
- Mother’s concern about taking medications while breastfeeding
- Unsupportive work policies and lack of parental leave
- Cultural norms and/or lack of family support
- Unsupportive hospital practices and policies
Additionally, a CDC report has cited inadequate sharing of breastfeeding information from healthcare providers and lack of access to professional breastfeeding support as barriers that black mothers disproportionately face when it comes to breastfeeding.
Although there is no single solution to supporting breastfeeding moms, the U.S. Surgeon General's Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding outlines 20 key actions to improve breastfeeding and support. The report suggests that as communities, employers, health-care providers, governments, and non-profit organizations implement strategies to support breastfeeding, all women who choose to breastfeed will benefit. The CDC Guide to Breastfeeding Interventions also offers recommendations and program examples to assist states, territories, and communities in supporting mothers to begin and continue breastfeeding.
Medela Resources and Support
Medela Cares supports maternal and infant health amidst critical transitions such as the return to work, coming home from the hospital or fostering the mother-baby bond in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), with an emphasis on serving the underserved and underrepresented and populations experiencing crisis. Medela Cares provides products and educational resources to nonprofit organizations aligned with these goals. For more information about Medela Cares, visit medelacares.com.