August is National Breastfeeding Month and the theme is “Every Step of the Way” which focuses on the importance of supporting families along the infant feeding journey with coordinated referrals and transitions.
Recently released data from the CDC National Immunization Survey (NIS) indicates that Louisiana breastfeeding initiation rates among infants born in 2018 increased by 9.3% compared to 2013 (70.2%, 60.9%, respectively), however, it continues to lag behind the nation (83.9%). The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months; the breastfeeding exclusivity rate among children born in Louisiana in 2018, was reported as 18.2% compared to 25.8%, nationally.
Prenatal providers and hospitals play a significant role in helping birthing persons make an informed choice on how they will feed their baby. In addition to providers stating their support for breastfeeding and providing education, The Gift recommends birthing facilities develop strong relationships among partners such as, WIC and home visitors to help ensure a coordinated transition to postpartum support. The Coffective online resource platform, located at LaBreastfeedingSupport.org, is a useful tool for taking the first step of identifying potential community partners. The next step can involve inviting these partners to a labor and delivery unit tour, followed by an invitation to join the birthing facility’s breastfeeding task force or improvement team to facilitate coordination and seamless referral pathways and to better understand and respond to community experiences.
Helping families obtain a breast pump is an important part of providing support especially among patients who will return to work or school. The newly available Breast Pump posters (English and Spanish), prompt patients to talk with a doctor or nurse to learn how to get a free breast pump and as well as encourage patients to contact their Louisiana Medicaid plan, WIC or private health insurance to learn more. The Medicaid Breast Pump Guide can help providers and families more easily navigate the process for getting a pump through Medicaid. Contact your community partners to learn about special celebrations such as baby showers and other events that can benefit your patients and clients.