Menu

10 ways breastfeeding moms should get better support in the U.S.

Hint, hint employers and policymakers...

10 ways breastfeeding moms should get better support in the U.S.

Thanks to public health efforts over the last decade, the percentage of American moms who breastfeed continues to rise. But that doesn’t mean they are always supported in their efforts: According to the CDC, although four out of five moms start out breastfeeding, fewer than a quarter of American moms are able to exclusively breastfeed to six months.


So what can America do to help breastfeeding moms succeed long-term? We’ve got some ideas.

1. Bring paid maternity leave to American moms

Breastfeeding is hard when you’re at home with your baby, and it’s even harder when you have to go back to work. (Even the Surgeon General’s Office agrees.) If you have just a few weeks of leave, you may still be struggling with latching, pain and other issues when you head back to work—and add pumping to the mix.

FEATURED VIDEO

While many moms are doing their best and making pumping work for their families, paid maternity leave would certainly take some of the pressure off in those early months of motherhood. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) calls breastfeeding an investment in the short- and long-term health of the infant, rather than a lifestyle choice, so we say maternity leave should also be considered an investment.

2. Leave for dads would be great, too

Paid leave for moms needs to be a priority, but other countries have also found that giving dads some paid leave helps moms feel supported and encouraged in their breastfeeding efforts. In Norway—a country with much higher rates of breastfeeding success than the United States—a woman’s partner gets 10 weeks of leave after a child is born. Having support at home during those first few weeks can be a real lifesaver for a breastfeeding mom, as evidence suggests fathers have a strong influence on a mother's decision to initiate and continue breastfeeding.

3. Implement better breastfeeding support at work

Despite state and federal laws surrounding breaks for nursing moms and appropriate places to pump, the practical realities of pumping at work in America are still far from ideal. Only 40 percent of working moms continue breastfeeding after they return to work. It’s hard to keep up your supply if you can only pump once or twice a shift, and many working moms are still pumping in bathrooms and supply closets. Accommodating pumping schedules and giving moms the proper facilities to pump (as well as store and wash their pump) could go a long way to helping moms breastfeed.

4. Stop aggressive formula marketing

The World Health Organization recommends governments stop formula companies from marketing to moms, but it still happens. Of course there is nothing wrong with using formula, and if you’re having trouble breastfeeding your doctor may even recommend supplementing (fed is best!). But studies prove that when a bunch of coupons and freebies show up in the mail just before your due date, you’re more likely to give up on breastfeeding.

5. Support breastfeeding at the community level

Research cites embarrassment as one factor in why mothers stop breastfeeding. Because so many generations of Americans grew up thinking bottles were the only way to feed babies, some moms still report being shamed when they feed their baby in public. Programs to support and normalize breastfeeding at the community levels are recommended by Unicef and the WHO. (Perhaps America could take a cue from a Canadian campaign that’s seeing life-sized cutouts of breastfeeding mamas going up in public spaces.)

6. Improve access to lactation help in the hospital

Let’s be real, not everyone has the money to spend on lactation consultants. So having support from a nursing expert before you leave the hospital is vital. It’s unfortunate that, according to the Global Breastfeeding Scorecard, only 18 percent of American hospitals support recommended breastfeeding practices outlined by the World Health Organization. If this number was higher, maybe the rates of breastfeeding success would be, too.

7. Help mothers connect with support groups

A recent study in the UK found that breastfeeding support—whether by trained professionals or just other moms—benefits moms and babies. The researchers found moms who got face-to-face support were about 8 percent less likely to stop breastfeeding before six months.

8. Make breast pumps affordable for everyone

For many moms-to-be, walking down the breast pump isle at Target is an exercise in sticker shock. If your insurance covers one, consider yourself lucky because these things are expensive. An electric pump is going to set you back at least couple hundred dollars, but cheaper, manual pumps aren’t a great option for moms trying to pump during a 15 minute break at work.

9. Increase overall funds for breastfeeding support

All of the items on this list require funding, which is why increasing funding to raise the rate of breastfeeding is the number one item on Unicef’s list of recommended government actions.

10. Listening to moms

Moms know why they’re not able to keep breastfeeding the way the WHO recommends. So if America wants to do better on next year’s Global Breastfeeding Scorecard, new mamas are the ones to ask for ideas.

As the rising rates of breastfeeding demonstrate, we’re already making progress—and by bringing these discussions into open forums, the number of American moms who feel empowered in their breastfeeding efforts is only going to improve.

In This Article

    Sunday Citizen

    I live in the Northeast and when I woke up this morning, my house was freezing. It had been in the mid 40's overnight and we haven't turned the heat on yet. Suddenly, my normal duvet felt too thin. The socks on my bare feet too non-existent. Winter is coming, and I'd been drinking rosés still pretending it was summer.

    I couldn't put it off any longer. It was time to do my annual tradition of winterizing my home—and I don't mean making sure my pipes and walls have enough insulation (though obviously that's important too). I mean the act of evaluating every room and wondering if it has enough hygge to it.

    If you've never heard of hygge, it's a Danish word that means a quality of coziness or contentment. And what better time to make sure you have moments of hygge all throughout your house than right now? As far as I'm concerned it's the only way to get through these dark winter months (even more so during a pandemic.)

    So I went room by room (yes, even my 4-year-old's room) and swapped in, layered or added in these 13 products to get us ready for winter:

    Keep reading Show less
    Shop

    14 toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

    They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

    With fall in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in outside-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

    From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

    Wooden doll stroller

    Janod wooden doll stroller

    Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

    $120

    Detective set

    Plan Toys detective set

    This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

    $40

    Sand play set

    Plan Toys sand set

    Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

    $30

    Water play set

    Plan Toys water play set

    Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

    $100

    Mini golf set

    Plan Toys mini golf set

    Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

    $40

    Vintage scooter balance bike

    Janod retro scooter balance bike

    Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

    $121

    Wooden rocking pegasus

    plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

    Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

    $100

    Croquet set

    Plan Toys croquet set

    The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

    $45

    Wooden digital camera

    fathers factory wooden digital camera

    Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

    $179

    Wooden bulldozer toy

    plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

    Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

    $100

    Pull-along hippo

    janod toys pull along hippo toy

    There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

    $33

    Baby forest fox ride-on

    janod toys baby fox ride on

    Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

    $88

    Balance board

    Plan Toys balance board

    Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

    $75

    Meadow ring toss game

    Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

    Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

    $30

    We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

    Shop

    Mama, all I see is you

    A love letter from your baby.

    Mama,

    I can't see past you right now, I'm so small and everything's a little blurry.

    All I see is you.

    When you feel alone, like the walls are closing in, remember I'm here too. I know your world has changed and the days feel a little lonely. But they aren't lonely for me.

    You are my everything.

    When you feel like you don't know what you're doing, you're making it look easy to me. Even though we're still getting to know each other, you know me better than anyone.

    I trust you.

    Keep reading Show less
    Life