U.S. "Healthy People 2020" Goals Include Breastfeeding Support

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has released their “Healthy People 2020” goals and they include more support for breastfeeding mothers.

The organization intends to increase “Baby Friendly” hospitals from 3.8% to 8%,  and breastfeeding-friendly workplaces from 25% to 38%.

“Baby Friendly” hospitals and birth centers meet standards set by UNICEF and WHO for high-quality breast-feeding care. And breastfeeding-friendly in the workplace means that women have time and a place to express breast milk during the day.

Um. Wait. The hope is that 8% of hospitals offer quality breastfeeding care? Am I missing something? Talk about low expectations.

Whether a woman decides to breastfeed or not is her business, but not being given the proper support or even the option to get breastfeeding off to a good start, is terrible. Especially when every prenatal clinic in the land is plastered with breastfeeding advocacy posters, and strewn with pamphlets enumerating the health benefits of the practice.

Still, Gerald Calnen, MD, president of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, said in a news release, “This is a major step forward for mothers and babies. For decades, we’ve been telling mothers to try harder. With the Healthy People 2020 goals, we are actually helping mothers to succeed.”

One big obstacle for breastfeeding is the practice of feeding newborns formula. The Healthy People 2020 goals aim to reduce formula feeding of healthy breast-fed infants form 26% (in 2006) to 15% by 2020. They’ve also set targets for maintaining breast-feeding for more than a short period of time: The American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) recommends that babies be exclusively fed breast milk for the first 6 months of life, but only 13% of American babies are fed in this way, for that long. The goal is bring that number up to 24%.

I guess these are all realistic goals. But I do wish there were higher hopes for helping women in the early days. I have heard too many stories from women who found they were urged to breastfed but not given proper support by hospital staff or pediatricians.

photo: myllisa/ flcikr

Article Posted 6 years Ago

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