|August 8, 2013
Breastfeeding and Early Care and Education
ST. IGNATIUS — This week is World Breastfeeding Week and it is an opportune time for people around the world including the Flathead Indian Reservation, to promote and encourage breastfeeding.
“Breastfeeding Support: Close to Mothers” is the theme for World Breastfeeding Week — first week in August — 2013. The theme focuses on the importance of all aspects of breastfeeding support.
Having an annual commemorative week is worthwhile, but ensuring that mothers have the support they need to breastfeed successfully requires ongoing efforts. Breastfeeding is one of the most effective steps a mother can take to protect the health of her baby. Support for breastfeeding should be provided in all places, including early care and education (ECE) facilities such as day care centers, nursery schools and family homes.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and continued breastfeeding for at least the first year as foods are introduced.
Unfortunately, most mothers in the United States do not meet these recommendations. One factor affecting breastfeeding duration is that many mothers are away from their children during the day and may not receive the support they need to continue breastfeeding. In 2007, 60 percent of women with children younger than age 3 were in the workforce; consequently, many children are cared for by people other than their parents.
Early care and education providers and teachers influence the lives and health of the families they serve and have an important role in supporting breastfeeding mothers and babies. Early care and education facilities can support breastfeeding mothers by ensuring that staff members are well trained to meet national recommendations for supporting breastfeeding mothers.
Support may include allowing mothers to breastfeed at the facility, feeding a mother's pumped breast milk to her baby, thawing and preparing bottles of pumped milk, and keeping extra breast milk in a freezer.
As of December 2011, only six states — Arizona, California, Delaware, Mississippi, North Carolina and Vermont — have licensing regulations that meet the national recommendations for encouraging and supporting breastfeeding.