Breastfeeding Support is Critical to Help New Moms Keep Nursing

Breastfeeding Support is Critical to Help New Moms Keep Nursing

Research shows that if the right support is given to mothers, the rate and duration of breastfeeding increases. Here’s what the USPSTF recommends in regards to forms of breastfeeding support.

US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has updated its recommendations on primary care interventions to support breastfeeding. The Task Force recommends interventions to support breastfeeding and found evidence that interventions are effective in increasing the rate and duration of breastfeeding.

This recommendation applies to pregnant women, new mothers, and their infants and children. Primary care clinicians are recommended to initiate interventions to support breastfeeding but may also involve a woman’s partner, other family members, and friends. This recommendation does not apply in circumstances where there are contraindications to breastfeeding (e.g., certain maternal medical conditions or infant metabolic disorders, such as galactosemia). The USPSTF did not review evidence on interventions directed at breastfeeding of preterm infants.

Breastfeeding support can begin during pregnancy and continue through the early life of the child. Primary care clinicians can support women before and after childbirth by providing interventions directly or through referral to help them make an informed choice about how to feed their infants and to be successful in their choice.

Interventions include promoting the benefits of breastfeeding, providing practical advice and direct support on how to breastfeed, and providing psychological support. Interventions can be categorized as professional support, peer support, and formal education, although none of these categories are mutually exclusive, and interventions may be combined within and between categories.

US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends the following  forms of breastfeeding support:

Professional Support

Professional support is 1-on-1 counseling about breastfeeding provided by a health professional (medical, nursing, or allied professionals, including those providing lactation care). Some interventions include the provision of supplies, such as educational materials, nursing bras, and breast pumps. Professional support can include providing information about the benefits of breastfeeding, psychological support (encouraging the mother, providing reassurance, and discussing the mother’s questions and problems), and direct support during breastfeeding observations (helping with the positioning of the infant and observing latching).

Professional support may be delivered during pregnancy, the hospital stay, the postpartum period, or at multiple stages. It may be conducted in an office setting, in the hospital, through home visits, through telephone support, or any combination of these. Sessions generally last from 15 to 45 minutes, although some programs have used shorter or longer sessions. Most successful interventions include multiple sessions and are delivered at more than 1 point in time.

Peer Support

Similar to professional support, peer support provides women with 1-on-1 counseling about breastfeeding but is delivered by a layperson (generally a mother with successful breastfeeding experience and a background similar to that of the patient) who has received training in how to provide support. Like professional support, peer support may be delivered through a variety of stages, settings, methods, and durations.

Formal Education

Formal education interventions typically include a formalized program to convey general breastfeeding knowledge, most often in the prenatal period, although some may span time periods. Education is usually offered in group sessions and may include telephone support, electronic interventions, videos, and print materials. They are directed at mothers but may include other family members. Content generally focuses on the benefits of breastfeeding, practical breastfeeding skills (e.g., latching), and the management of common breastfeeding complications; these programs may also offer family members encouragement and advice on how to support the mother.

Read the full report HERE.

Useful Resources:

Center for Disease Control and Prevention – Breastfeeding

The CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity (DNPAO) is committed to increasing breastfeeding rates throughout the United States and to promoting and supporting optimal breastfeeding practices toward the ultimate goal of improving the public’s health.  This site is full of information and resources to support breastfeeding.


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