Grass Roots in Community Outreach for Optimal Infant Nutrition
Gordon, Jessica Marie
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Session presented on Thursday, September 25, 2014: Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life is strongly associated with optimal health outcomes for mother and child, in the short and long term. Yet exclusive breastfeeding is practiced by a minority of families, the duration rates of any and exclusive breastfeeding at six months are well below the United States Department of Health and Human Services Healthy People 2020 objectives. According to the 2008 report by the United States Breastfeeding Committee barriers that effect why moms do not breastfeed include: 1) limited provider awareness, knowledge, skills, and practices and limited self-awareness of breastfeeding support, 2) unnecessary use of medical interventions during labor and delivery, 3) insufficient attention to immediate skin-to-skin contact at birth and evidence-based breastfeeding support practices, such as safe co-sleeping, 4) limited community, political, legislative, and regulatory awareness of the public health impact, 5) misperceptions and fears due to lack of societal awareness and support, 6) limited third party payment for sufficient support, 7) lack of paid maternity leave/brevity of any leave, 8) lack of workplace support, 9) aggressive marketing of formula (samples, gifts, coupons) to mothers through hospitals and clinicians offices, and 10) lack of media representation in television and cinema of exclusive breastfeeding as normative behavior. In 2011, the US Surgeon General, Regina M. Benjamin, M.D., M.B.A, launched a Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding that included strategies to support, promote and protect breastfeeding targeted to: 1) give mothers the support they need to breastfeed their babies, 2) strengthen programs that provide mother-to-mother support and peer counseling, 3) ensure that the marketing of infant formula is conducted in a way that minimizes its negative impacts on exclusive breastfeeding, 4) ensure that maternity care practices in health care systems throughout the United States are fully supportive of breastfeeding and 5) ensure that employers establish and maintain comprehensive, high-quality lactation support programs for their employees. To mobilize these efforts success of community organizing is highly dependent upon active participation and the leadership among members in the public health, legislative and business sectors.