Improving Breastfeeding Outcomes Through Community Support

By Jennifer Yoon, RDN/LDN, Breastfeeding Educator, Pediatric Alliance — St. Clair



As detailed in the November 19 PediaBlog post, “Why Breast Is Best”, the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months for both baby and mother are numerous and lifelong. Benefits to baby include lower risk for infections, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, childhood leukemia, and infant mortality. For mothers, benefits include decreased risk for type 2 diabetes, hypertension, ovarian and breast cancers, and postpartum depression. 

Currently, approximately 80% of all U.S. women start breastfeeding, but of those moms, approximately 60% do not reach their own goals. In Pennsylvania, 40% of mothers stop breastfeeding by 4 weeks, 52% stop by 8 weeks, only 21% continue breastfeeding for 6 months. Pennsylvania ranks nearer the bottom — 36th out of 50 states — for the 6-month breastfeeding rate.

Supporting ongoing breastfeeding is often where things fall apart. Hospitals employ lactation consultants for assisting with newborn feeding, but many patients are missed due to short stays and inadequate staffing. Most breastfeeding problems occur after hospital discharge because mothers may not know where to go for support. In addition, the cost or distance for an appointment with a lactation consultant is very often prohibitive. Without support, many mothers quit breastfeeding because they are worried their baby is not getting enough milk, not gaining weight, breastfeeding is painful, or they think they’re not doing it right. Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals want mothers to breastfeed but lack time and training to support them. Mothers are more likely to continue breastfeeding if they have professional support in multiple settings. 

The article cites that women are “2.5 times more likely to continue breastfeeding where it is protected, promoted, and supported” and “more than 820,000 lives a year could be saved globally by improving breastfeeding practices.”  

In a effort to provide high-quality support to breastfeeding mothers, Baby Café South Hills will open at Pediatric Alliance St Clair on Thursday, December 6 to existing Pediatric Alliance St. Clair patients. We will open to the public in January. Baby Café South Hills will provide quality lactation support during walk-in hours on Thursdays from 10AM-12PM. 

Baby Café USA is a national organization licensing local Baby Cafés to offer support on all aspects of breastfeeding and its impact on daily life – from prenatal to weaning, as well as assistance with pumping and maintaining supply if moms return to work outside the home. Baby Cafés are run by a range of trained staff including health professionals such as board certified lactation consultants (IBCLCs), midwives and nurses, and other qualified and accredited breastfeeding counselors. All will have specific training and experience in helping breastfeeding families to provide a consistent, high standard of care.