Breastfeeding Friendly Environment

The Bureau of Nutrition and Physical Activity works to improve access to physical activity following guidance from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The focus of IDPH’s efforts is increasing the number of Iowa hospitals using evidence base practice in supporting breastfeeding moms and babies.

Increasing Access to Breastfeeding Friendly Environments

Education and support provided in hospitals and birthing centers at the time of birth are critical in determining the success of breastfeeding. The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) worked with hospitals in rural, lower socioeconomic areas to examine their maternity practices, based on results of the Maternity Practices in Infant Nutrition and Care (mPINC) survey issued nationally every two years by CDC. With technical assistance and education from IDPH, hospitals developed and implemented a plan to improve maternity practice through policy development.

National Breastfeeding Support

The 2011 Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding emphasizes the importance of breastfeeding by outlining the health, psychosocial, economic, and environmental effects. The Call to Action calls upon clinicians, employers, communities, researchers, and government leaders to accept responsibility and commit to enabling mothers to meet their personal goals for breastfeeding. A 2009 American Academy of Pedi­atrics cost analysis found that if 90% of women breastfed exclusively for 6 months, the United States would save $13 billion and prevent nearly 1,000 infant deaths per year.

Breastfeeding Rates and Goals

Healthy People 2020 goals for breastfeeding baseline and target rates, including initiation, duration, and exclusivity, are well outlined by the United States Breastfeeding Committee. The CDC Breastfeeding Report Card, published annually, brings together state-by-state information to help tell the story of breastfeeding practices and supports in each state.

Support in the Workplace

Returning to work is the most frequent time for women to quit breastfeeding. Women with children are the fastest-growing segment of the work force. Balancing work and family is an important priority for them. Today, over 75 percent of women in the United States begin breastfeeding. When they return to work after their babies are born, time and space to express their milk during the work period help them continue to give their best to their work and their baby. Resources for supporting breastfeeding moms at work can be found on the Office of Women’s Health website including information about the federal law that requires employers to provide two basic types of accommodations: time and space for breastfeeding or pumping breast milk. Solutions for employers supporting nursing moms at work are also provided.