Make breastfeeding easier for moms: 12 tips

Moms who have breastfed agree that it’s worthwhile, but it has its challenges – especially when it comes to support at home, at work and in public.

Moms who have breastfed agree that it’s worthwhile, but it has its challenges – especially when it comes to support at home, at work and in public.

Why does something that is supposed to be so natural continue to have so many roadblocks?

“Breastfeeding mothers have myriad challenges to face when they are trying to feed their infant,” said Elizabeth Doyle, M.D., medical director of lactation at Norton Healthcare. “Maternity leave is short, workplace breastfeeding support is inconsistent and public perception is often negative. Keep in mind, too, that some babies will not tolerate a blanket or cover-up over the head while nursing.”

The commonwealth of Kentucky ranks 49th (out of the 50 states plus the District of Columbia) in breastfeeding rates, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2014 Report Card on Breastfeeding. Only West Virginia and Louisiana have lower rates. The national average is 79.2, but in Kentucky only 61.3 of mothers have ever breastfed. Six months after giving birth, only 31.5 percent of Kentucky moms are still breastfeeding. Indiana isn’t much better, ranking 38th in moms who have ever breastfed.

What to do? Supporting mothers who make an excellent health choice by breastfeeding would be a good start. Dr. Doyle offers some suggestions on how to provide this support.

In the home

  • Help moms by giving them a special space to breastfeed
  • Don’t interrupt breastfeeding
  • If you’re the significant other, it’s nice to provide support – even in the middle of the night. For example, change a diaper while mom gets ready to breastfeed.
  • Encourage a mom when she’s tired or feels like giving up – tell her she’s doing a great thing.

In the workplace

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 requires employers with 50 or more employees to give nursing mothers breaks and private space (not a bathroom) where they can pump breast milk during the workday for the first year of the baby’s life. This covers non-exempt employees. (Learn more at http://www.dol.gov/whd/nursingmothers/.)

If you’re an employer:

  • Be sure to provide proper space
  • Help a mom schedule time for pumping milk
  • Do not make comments about a mother needing to pump
  • Explain the law to employees who may not understand.

In public

State law allows mothers to breastfeed anywhere. If you see a mother breastfeeding:

  • Smile and give a thumbs up to show your support
  • Don’t stare
  • Don’t ask her to stop, move elsewhere or cover up
  • If she speaks to you, show support; tell her she’s doing a great thing for her baby

The Baby Bistro and Boutique sells and rents breast pumps and parts, breastfeeding bras, breastfeeding pillows and many other breastfeeding supply and support items. In addition, mothers can make an appointment with a lactation consultant for one-on-one assistance with any issues regarding breastfeeding.

A special breastfeeding help line also offers assistance to moms around the clock, seven days a week at (502) 446-MOMS (6667).

These are just some of the initiatives in place as part of the hospital’s journey toward baby friendly certification.


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