Breastfeeding is a personal decision for pregnant women and new mothers. You play an important role in educating these patients on breastfeeding benefits, removing breastfeeding barriers, and identifying resources to support them. Studies have shown that a physician’s recommendation increases breastfeeding initiation and duration rates.
The AAFP recommends that all babies, with rare exceptions, be breastfed and/or receive expressed human milk exclusively for the first six months of life. According to the AAFP Breastfeeding Policy, breastfeeding should continue with the addition of complementary foods throughout the second half of the first year. Breastfeeding beyond the first year offers considerable benefits to both mother and child and should continue as long as mutually desired.
For mothers, breastfeeding supports postpartum weight loss, and combats depression, type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and other conditions. For children, breastfeeding lowers the risk of acute otitis media, gastroenteritis, atopic dermatitis, and life-threatening conditions such as severe lower respiratory infections, necrotizing enterocolitis, and sudden infant death syndrome. Older children who were previously breastfed experience fewer occurrences of hypertension, type 1 and 2 diabetes, obesity, asthma and childhood leukemia.5, 15
Making the Case: Supporting Breastfeeding Moms Returning to Work
Resources from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services can create breastfeeding support for employers, health care professionals and employees.
Partner Resources: HHS Office on Women's Health
HHS Office on Women's Health published tips to support nursing moms. The OWH Partner Resources webpage also features materials to spread the word about the Supporting Nursing Moms at Work: Employer Solutions online resource. This includes sample social media posts, infocards, and web badges for easy sharing with managers, human resource directors, coworkers, and employees.
United States Breastfeeding Coalition's Core Competencies
This nonprofit coalition of more than 40 nationally influential organizations is improving the nation’s health by working collaboratively to protect and promote breastfeeding. The USBC’s Core Competencies are a guideline to integrate evidence-based breastfeeding into practice and endorsed by the AAFP.
COVID-19 Breastfeeding and Pregnancy Statement
There has been uncertainty about how to advise parents during the pandemic. The AAFP Statement on Breastfeeding, Pregnancy and COVID-19 recommends promotion of breastfeeding and parent-infant bonding, and avoidance of parent-infant separation.
AAFP In-Office Patient Education
Patient Education Articles
When you're offering support, you can recommend these resources on familydoctor.org.