Field Epidemiology

Breastfeeding Grand Rounds 2013

It Takes A Village: Promoting Breastfeeding at the Community Level

Originally presented on August 1, 2013

Stephanie Sosnowski, BS, ICCE, IBCLC, RLC
Mary Applegate, MD, MPH
Ruth Lawrence, MD

Breastfeeding is known to be the best source of infant nutrition and immunologic protection, and babies who are breastfed are less likely to become obese in later life and less likely to suffer from diabetes and asthma.  Mothers, as well, receive benefits, with lower rates of breast and ovarian cancers.  Although most mothers (75%) try to breastfeed, by three months post-partum, most have given up.  Only about 17% of new mothers are breastfeeding by six months (Surgeon General, 2011).

In 2011, the Surgeon General issued A Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding, describing specific steps that can be taken society-wide to support mothers and babies who are breastfeeding.  This wider approach to breastfeeding support is believed to be effective in reducing disparities in breastfeeding rates among specific segments of the community.  Community support can be crucial in: changing social norms to see breastfeeding as “normal;” overcoming embarrassment, lack of knowledge and lack of support from health care providers; and supporting lactating women who return to work.  This program will highlight community-level actions to support successful lactation.

Program Objectives
After watching this broadcast participants will be able to:

  1. Describe the disparities in breastfeeding rates among different sectors of US society
  2. Explain the importance of community engagement in addressing those disparities
  3. List at least four sectors of the community that can contribute to successful breastfeeding
  4. Describe the concept of a "warm chain" for breastfeeding and the roles of community partners in promoting and supporting breastfeeding