Breastfeeding: Information for Maternal Health Care Providers

Physicians play a central role in the promotion, protection, and support of breastfeeding.

What you should do

The American Academy of Pediatrics makes the following suggestions for how to have a breastfeeding friendly practice:

  • Display breastfeeding supportive signs and educational materials.
  • Avoid distributing free formula, coupons, or formula-sponsored promotional materials to mothers who have chosen to breastfeed.
  • Encourage exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life whenever possible and discourage inappropriate supplementation.
  • Advertise that you are a “breastfeeding friendly” practice and encourage mothers to breastfeed in the office.
  • Have a “triage” system in the office for all breastfeeding-related calls.
  • Employ a lactation consultant in the office.
  • Have a room within the office space dedicated to “breastfeeding-related issues.”
  • Keep a stock of breastfeeding supplies for the mother.
  • Have breastfeeding reference books available, particularly one that describes compatibility of breastfeeding with the mother’s medications.
  • Have resources available that list electric breast pump rental locations and community support groups.
  • Know the laws in your state about breastfeeding and/or expressing milk at work and be able to support the mothers in your practice to continue to breastfeed after returning to work.

Underserved women

According to Healthy People 2010, the lowest rates of breastfeeding are found among women whose infants are at highest risk of poor health and development: those aged 21 years and under and those with low educational levels. Particular emphasis should be placed on promoting breastfeeding with these women and encouraging them to use the breastfeeding support services offered by institutions such as WIC and La Leche League.