How Can Texas Be More Breastfeeding-Friendly, Especially For Women Of Color?
Around the world, breastfeeding is often considered an investment in a family's future. Breast milk boosts a baby's immune system, helps the mother's body regulate post-partum and has a cost-saving benefit for parents.
According to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 85 percent of Texas infants born in 2015 have been breastfed. That's 2 percent higher than the national average.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants exclusively breastfed for the first six months. After six months, breast milk becomes a part of the child's diet as food is introduced.
However, CDC data also shows breastfeeding rates nationwide are declining for the crucial 0-6 month time period in a child's life. Only 14 percent of Texas mothers exclusively breastfeed at 6 months.
This is likely due to limited resources or a lack of ready support in the community, including the workplace, social services and healthcare. African-American and Hispanic communities currently reflect a low percentage of breastfeeding mothers.
Exclusive breastfeeding has been shown to be protective against infant mortality due to SIDS, as well as deaths from childhood illnesses. Formula-fed babies are at higher risk of negative health outcomes including necrotizing enterocolitis, lower respiratory infections, and chronic diseases such as asthma, obesity, and type-2 diabetes.
Public breastfeeding has been legal for years in Texas, but mothers are still sometimes shamed into feeding their children in a more private place. Other mothers deal with worksite non-accomodation issues.
What does lactation education look like and how do consultations work? What are the laws when it comes to public nursing?
Where can new and expecting mothers meet in the San Antonio area to get support and companionship?
- Norma Sifuentes, manager of the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District's Women, Infants and Children clinics and the Baby Café
- Ashley Green, co-founder & executive director for Latched Support
- Dee Huerta, international board certified lactation consultant with the San Antonio Breastfeeding Coalition