With implementation of Commonwealth Care, health care costs are a major issue facing state legislators. When you speak to your state representatives, emphasize that laws to protect breastfeeding will save the state money and improve health outcomes for mothers and children.
Public health begins with breastfeeding
- Say who you are
- Breastfeeding reduces health care costs
- Mothers who do not breastfeed face increased risks of ovarian cancer, breast cancer and diabetes
- Infants who are not breastfed face increased risks of ear infections, pneumonia, asthma, diabetes and obesity
- Infants formula fed for the first three months of life incur $331 more in health care costs, just for respiratory tract infections, compared to infants who are only fed breast milk
- In an era of rising health care costs, we cannot afford to miss this opportunity to improve the health of mothers and babies
Breastfeeding in public
- Say who you are
- Describe any negative experiences about breastfeeding in public that have happened to you or to anyone close to you
- 77% of Massachusetts mothers initiate breastfeeding; nursing mothers need to feel comfortable, not fear harassment.
- Breastfed babies nurse frequently, as often as every 2 hours – nursing mothers need to be able to leave their homes.
- Nursing can be done discreetly – but most bathrooms are not hygienic, practical or comfortable places to nurse.
- Breastfeeding is the medical recommendation by all major medical groups, but the US falls well short of even modest Healthy People 2010 federal breastfeeding goals. Laws to protect nursing mother’s rights are necessary to close this gap.
Breastfeeding in the workplace
- Say who you are
- Describe any personal experiences you might have had.
- Breastfeeding for at least 1-2 years is the recommendation by all major medical authorities.
- The CDC notes: 70% of employed mothers with children under 3 work full-time
- 1/3 return to work within 3 months
- 2/3 return within 6 months
- low income women return to work early
- The CDC notes that returning to work is a major reason why women stop breastfeeding
- A nursing mother needs to express milk or breastfeeding to maintain her milk supply, and as well as to supply milk for her baby the next day.
- Businesses lose when employees don’t breastfeed
- For every 1000 formula feeding babies, it is estimated that their mothers miss a total of a full year of employment in excess of breastfeeding mothers, to care for sick children (Ball and Wright, Pediatrics, 1999)
- New mothers who aren’t breastfeeding have 3 times as many 1-day absences from work as breastfeeding mothers, because their children are sick more often (Cohen, Mrtek, Mrtkek, Am J Health Promot, 1995)
- The longer a woman breastfeeds, the lower her risk of breast cancer and possibly diabetes. The longer a woman breastfeeds, the lower her child’s risk of obesity. The risk of infant’s disease goes up the earlier formula is introduced (Moreland, Am Fam Physician, 2000)
Licensing and Reimbursement of Lactation Care and Services
- Say who you are.
- Describe any personal experiences, such as being helped by a lactation consultant.
- Breastfeeding is the medical recommendation by all major medical authorities, but women often need help, especially early on and when they return to work. Research shows that lactation consultants make a difference.
- Women deserve to know that they are receiving support from qualified professionals.
- LC’s are health professionals, just like physical therapists, nurses, dieticians, and acupuncturists. However, in Massachusetts, lactation consultants are not licensed by the state, unlike these other allied health professionals.
- Licensing assures that standards are met. A mother knows her hair stylist is licensed — she deserves at least the same standard for lactation support.
- Licensing is an important step toward insurance coverage for lactation consultation. Insurance coverage is critical to ensure that all women have access to professional lactation support, not just those who are able to pay.
- Lack of breastfeeding costs the US at least $3.6 billion a year; the US falls well short of its modest breastfeeding goals.