We are so glad to hear about the new breastfeeding guidelines put out by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Finally! One of the last organizations to establish these recommendations.
The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a new policy statement in 2022 which now extends the period of time for which breastfeeding is recommended to two years or more, and also acknowledges the many obstacles that stand in parents’ way to achieve these breastfeeding goals.
“Human milk is all a baby needs for the first six months of life,” said Joan Younger Meek, MD, MS, RD, FAAP, FABM, IBCLC, lead author of the reports, written by the AAP Section on Breastfeeding. “Breast milk is unique in its nutrients and protective effects, and really quite remarkable when you look at what it does for a child’s developing immune system. Not everyone can breastfeed or continue breastfeeding for as long as desired for various reasons, including workplace barriers. Families deserve nonjudgmental support, information and help to guide them in feeding their infant.”
You can read the full policy statement online. Below is a recap of what was updated or changed.
The AAP recommends:
- Exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months. There is no need to introduce infant formula or other sources of nutrition for most infants. Beyond 6 months, breastfeeding should be maintained along with nutritious complementary foods.
- AAP recommends that birth hospitals or centers implement maternity care practices that improve breastfeeding initiation, duration, and exclusivity.
- There are continued benefits from breastfeeding beyond 1 year, and up to 2 years especially in the mother. Long-term breastfeeding is associated with protections against diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancers of the breast and ovaries.
- Mothers who choose to breastfeed beyond the first year need support from their medical care providers, as well as protections against workplace barriers.
- Policies that protect breastfeeding, including universal paid maternity leave; the right of a woman to breastfeed in public; insurance coverage for lactation support and breast pumps; on-site childcare; universal workplace break time with a clean, private location for expressing milk; the right to feed expressed milk; and the right to breastfeed in childcare centers and lactation rooms in schools are all essential to supporting families in sustaining breastfeeding.
We all agree that this new updated policy statement is long overdue, and we do appreciate the acknowledgement of the lack of support for mothers from things like cultural barriers, class barriers, and even from the government level down, and hope to see even more change in the future to help support new mothers in their breastfeeding journeys.
Tips for Parents
- Education is so important! Not only for the mother planning to breastfeed, but for partners too. While breastfeeding is a natural occurrence in life for humans, it does not come naturally to most. It takes knowledge, skill, and support! We highly recommend taking a breastfeeding education class during pregnancy, to better prepare you for your journey. (Email us for a coupon code!)
- Finding a supportive care provider that can meet your needs when it comes to breastfeeding. No matter what your goal is, it’s important to have that continued support from a pediatrician, a family doctor, or whomever you choose for your baby and family.
- Have available breastfeeding resources. While education during pregnancy is wonderful, it’s also a great idea to seek out your local lactation consultants and other support people during pregnancy. We recommend meeting with an IBCLC (International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant) during pregnancy, to help establish a relationship before baby is born. That way if you do need additional support, you are more likely to reach out to them. Another great local resource can be an in-person or online La Leche League group.
- Set goals! They don’t even need to be long term goals. Instead, break that goal down as much as you need! Whether that looks like getting through one day at a time, or even one feeding at a time. Your goals can include how long you want to breastfeed for, pump for, or a mixture of nurse, pump, and supplementing. Choosing to breastfeed is completely up to you and your baby, and what works for your family best.
- Most importantly, get help if you need help! Support is often the most crucial part of breastfeeding for mothers, and often how many of us succeed in our goals. A great way to start a successful breastfeeding journey is hiring a doula! Doulas can assist with breastfeeding right from the start. Get help for specific lactation needs from lactation consultants or pediatricians. Get help from your partner for feedings, cleaning pump supplies, or whatever you need from them specifically. Get help from friends and family to who can encourage and support your journey. Get help from local support groups, online groups, or any other moms who have breastfed their babies, and can support you. If returning to work, know your rights to pumping. If your employer is not meeting your needs, find ways to advocate for yourself!
Tips for Birth Professionals
- As a birth doula, you should have at minimum basic breastfeeding education and support for your clients. That is why our Birth Boot Camp birth doula trainings require our doulas to take a lactation intensive for birth professionals, for certification.
- As a postpartum doula, it is absolutely necessary to be able to support clients during their breastfeeding journeys, if they choose to breastfeed. This is why we also require our Birth Boot Camp postpartum doulas to take a lactation intensive to certify with BBC as well.
- Whether you are a birth doula, postpartum doula, childbirth educator, or any other birth professional – we encourage you to have a resource list available to your clients and students, which should include lactation support in your area, and online.