NICHQ Resources & Strategies to Support Breastfeeding
August is National Breastfeeding Month — a month dedicated to advancing advocacy, protection, and promotion of breastfeeding to ensure that all families have the opportunity to breastfeed.
Equity gaps in access to resources and support create troubling disparities for breastfeeding mothers and birthing people. NICHQ works to close the gaps and achieve equity in all forms, including race, nationality, gender identity, sexual orientation, and ability.
Chestfeeding is the process of feeding a child human milk from a person's chest. The term can be used by anyone, but often is used by transgender and nonbinary people when the words breastfeeding or nursing are not an ideal fit. Read more about NICHQ's language evolution in this article by COO Heidi Brooks.
Support Breastfeeding Mothers and Birthing People
Rates of breastfeeding in the U.S. vary widely because of the multiple and complex barriers new parents face when starting and continuing to breastfeed. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that infants be exclusively breastfed or chestfed for about the first 6 months with continued feeding while introducing appropriate complementary foods for one year or longer. Yet, many mothers and birthing people struggle to reach their breastfeeding goals, and sixty percent do not breastfeed as long as they intended to.
The AAP updated its Breastfeeding Policy Statement to call for more human milk feeding support – particularly for Black mothers and birthing people. They urge that implicit bias, structural bias, and systemic racism must be addressed in order to improve existing disparities in human milk feeding.
This August, we join the U.S. Breastfeeding Committee in recognizing National Breastfeeding Month. At NICHQ, we are committed to making breastfeeding and infant safe sleep the national norm. Help us spread the word about the benefits of breastfeeding and learn how you can support mothers and birthing people to ensure every child can achieve their optimal health!
Connecting Breastfeeding Safety & Safe Infant Sleep
Breastfeeding or chestfeeding brings a variety of health benefits for babies. Mothers and birthing people with young babies need support to continue breastfeeding while ensuring infants sleep safely.
Explore our resources to promote and encourage healthy sleep habits:
- Dispell common myths and facts about safe infant sleep and breastfeeding
- Educate childcare providers and caregivers with resources about safe sleep practices
- How sleep savvy are you? Take our safe sleep quiz to find out. Now on Instagram!
- Implement these tactics and examples to support safe sleep conversations
NICHQ’s Breastfeeding and Safe Sleep Work
The use of a health equity lens is imperative in the work of making breastfeeding and chestfeeding a national norm. We’re grateful to have insight from a diverse team of faculty experts on the following project-related breastfeeding and safe sleep initiatives.
Partnering with 70+ cross-sector, national-level organizations invested in improving and reducing disparities in infant safe sleep and breastfeeding. Providing training and resources to systems and community groups to engage families and help identify and overcome barriers in integrating safe sleep and breastfeeding. Learn more
- Providing comprehensive capacity-building assistance training for all Healthy Start programs. Includes technical assistance on high-priority topics like safe sleep, fatherhood, and breastfeeding, and training for program staff on core competencies, including leadership, quality improvement, and data and measurement.
Join NICHQ in celebrating the 2023 National Breastfeeding Month theme, This is Our Why, with weekly observances that highlight the importance of breastfeeding equity.
Additional Articles & Resources
A Better Approach to Conversations about Breastfeeding
Without hearing directly from mothers, health professionals can’t provide meaningful education and support that speaks to each mother’s individual views and experiences. This is one reason why improving conversations with breastfeeding mothers can help increase breastfeeding rates. Here, two experts offer advice on how put a better conversational approach into action.
Mother Partners: Promoting Patient-Centered Policies to Support Breastfeeding
Mothers aren't just benefiting from improved practices and policies, they're helping hospitals identify strategies to better serve their patients.
What Health Equity Efforts Can Learn from Immunization Initiatives
While vaccinations help ensure that children will be less likely to be affected by preventable conditions, they have also been a tool in closing health disparities (differences in access to or availability of services) between population. As many professionals and organizations strive to achieve health equity, the drive to improve immunization rates is a replicable success story that can be applied repeatedly.
How Do We Address Safe Sleep Disparities? Start by Building Trust
Healthy babies shouldn’t die in their sleep. But, despite decades of trying to reduce the number of sudden unexpected infant deaths (SUID) they still persist. And most often, their persistence affects families of color. In this article, Founder of the Global Infant Safe Sleep Center, Stacy Scott, shares ideas on how we can best address this alarming lack of equity and reduce sleep-related deaths across all populations.
Ignoring Safe Sleep Progress Risks Increasing Unsafe Sleep Deaths
A recent American Academy of Pediatrics article concluded that, due to national SUID rates stagnation, states needed to re-examine their efforts to improve safe-sleep practices. We couldn’t agree more that these statistics invite increased focus on sleep-related deaths. However, along with understanding where progress has stalled, there is much to learn from progress that has been made and take steps to leverage those successes.
Bedsharing, Breastfeeding and Babies Dying: A Conversation Worth Having
Bedsharing can lead to longer breastfeeding duration. It also leads to more infant deaths. These opposing facts represent a major dilemma for those working to improve infant health. What does it mean when strategies that put babies in danger also support behaviors that improve outcomes? In this article, Lori Feldman-Winter, MD, MPH, FAAP, a pediatrician and safe sleep and breastfeeding expert, provides some answers.
Closing the Breastfeeding Disparity Gap: Methods for Improvement
When compared to all other racial groups, Hispanic mothers are most likely to supplement breastmilk with formula within the first two days of life. One hospital on the Texas-Mexico border, serving a nearly 100 percent Hispanic population, has introduced a variety of interventions aimed at closing the breastfeeding disparity gap, specifically as it relates to exclusive breastfeeding.
How Safe Sleep Savvy Are You? Spanish Version
The Spanish-language version of our popular video quiz to help physicians, nurses, home visitors and other public health professionals can prompt discussions around best-practices for infant sleep.
Interactive E-Handout for Safe Sleep Conversations
This interactive E-handout helps families learn about safe sleep practices. Health professionals can sit with families and click through the pages where they’ll find different sleep scenes and environments. A series of prompts and pop-ups show what is and is not safe and inspire learning conversations. Families can also access the handout at home and use it to teach their friends and families about safe sleep.
Safe Sleep Promising Practices and Literature Review
These two resources can support state and community efforts to eliminate sleep-related infant deaths: a comprehensive literature review and specific examples of promising resources, programs and interventions states can spread and scale to reduce sleep-related infant deaths.
Better Sleep for Breastfeeding Mothers, Safer Sleep for Babies
How do you realistically support tired and overwhelmed mothers to breastfeed safely? This all too common question haunts maternal health professionals who seek to encourage both breastfeeding and safe sleep habits. Here, Michael Goodstein, MD, a neonatologist and safe sleep and breastfeeding expert, offers three opportunities for improvement.
Fathers: Powerful Allies for Maternal and Child Health
Supporting father engagement and involvement is a critical opportunity to improve children’s health outcomes in the decades to come, says NICHQ President and CEO Scott D. Berns. Here, he describes three strategies for supporting fathers as powerful allies in maternal and child health outcomes.