World Breastfeeding Week (August 1 - August 7) is an annual, global campaign to raise awareness and inspire action on issues affecting breastfeeding. Goodwill Nurse-Family PartnershipⓇ, a program that pairs first-time expectant parents with registered nurses, recognizes this week as a great opportunity to share information on a commonly misunderstood topic.
“Breastmilk is the most nutritional substance you can give your baby,” said Morgan Lyle, a registered nurse at Goodwill NFP. “Your body tailors all the nutrients your baby needs. Breastfeeding is also a beautiful way to bond with your child.”
Heath centers, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), stress the importance of breastfeeding, especially during the first six months of a child’s life. However, there are physical and societal barriers people must navigate to breastfeed consistently, such as their own anatomy and inflexible work environments.
There are also breastfeeding disparities among women of different races. According to the CDC, only 74.1% of Black women initiate breastfeeding compared to the national average. Black women often receive less lactation support after birth and have to return to work sooner, making it difficult to find opportunities to nurse.
Those who choose to breastfeed and experience physical barriers can turn to professionals for help. Certified lactation consultants try to ensure that parents have the best breastfeeding experiences possible. Morgan is in the process of becoming an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC).
“An IBCLC gives nurses more knowledge and methods to provide one-on-one care to a parent in a specific area of breastfeeding, such as supplementation,” said Morgan. “We can also assist them with producing milk if they have trauma or ailments to their breasts.”
Due to barriers, parents often supplement meals with formula, designed as a substitute for human milk to meet the nutritional needs of babies less than a year old. Despite the necessity, there’s a stigma around formula use.
“People don’t realize that you can breastfeed and use formula,” Morgan said. “That’s a completely viable option. It will never hurt your baby.”
However, in 2022, a formula shortage devastated families across the United States. For Goodwill NFP families in Indiana, this heavily influenced their decision to breastfeed.
“A lot of NFP parents chose to breastfeed because of the shortage,” said Morgan. “Families who chose formula had to specially order it and ship it in from other states. Because of availability, they had to switch formula types, and this would affect the baby’s health.”
However, Goodwill NFP Nurses were ready to face these challenges head-on with families. Under their care, they ensured parents knew where to access available formula, and how to prepare and store formula safely.
“At Goodwill NFP, all of our families are given the education and the resources to make informed decisions,” said Morgan. “All of our nurses are lactation specialists and counselors. Proper education can change a lot of parents’ hearts.”