Breastfeeding supported in Surgeon General's issued "call to action"

February 1, 2011

The Surgeon General has issued a report outlining steps that should be taken to remove some of the obstacles to breastfeeding in the United States.

The Surgeon General has issued a report outlining steps that should be taken to remove some of the obstacles to breastfeeding in the United States.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control show that 75% of women say they initiate breastfeeding in their newborns, but at the end of 6 months, only 13% of babies are breastfed exclusively.

Many mothers say that several factors impede their breastfeeding efforts, such as social norms, a lack of support at home, a lack of information from clinicians, lactation problems, a lack of time and privacy to breastfeed or express milk at the workplace, and an inability to connect with other breastfeeding mothers.

Health care providers and hospitals were advised to limit the distribution of infant formula to prevent its overuse; to integrate follow-up support of breastfeeding after hospital discharge; and to offer better and earlier training in lactation support and breastfeeding to clinicians.

Other recommendations were for clinicians to promote breastfeeding to their pregnant patients and make sure that mothers receive the best advice.

Obstetricians, midwives, pediatricians, family physicians, and nurses should ensure continuity of care for pregnant women and mother-infant pairs in the first 4 weeks postpartum by providing prenatal counseling on feeding, monitoring neonatal weight gain, and establishing a referral program for lactation consultants.

US Department of Health and Human Services. The Surgeon General's Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Surgeon General; 2011.