Written by pharmacy student Serabi Rembert, Merer University, College of Pharmacy, Class of 2021

The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided data on numbers and characteristics of births in 2018. The largest number of births occurred in the month of August according to the National Vital Statistics Reports (NVSS) published on November 27, 2019.2

Breastfeeding is a vital source that provides essential nutrition for most infants.3 Human milk allows the infant to obtain the proteins, fats, carbohydrates, sugars, as well as, vitamins which contribute to healthy development.4 The milk of a mother is uniquely suited for her child(ren) and is known as the biological norm that creates and builds an infant’s immune system with defenses such as antibodies, immune factors, different enzymes, and white blood cells.5

“Breastfeeding provides unmatched health benefits for babies and mothers. It is the clinical gold standard for infant feeding and nutrition, with breast milk uniquely tailored to meet the health needs of a growing baby. We must do more to create supportive and safe environments for mothers who choose to breastfeed.”

Dr. Ruth Petersen, Director of CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity

According to the 2018 CDC Breastfeeding Report Card, 4 out of 5 (83.2%) of mothers living in the U.S. start out breastfeeding at 6 months in 2015.6

Among the infants born in 2015 in the U.S. over half (57.6%) were breastfed at 6 months, and over one-third (35.9%) were breastfed at 12 months.6 Among African-American babies, the rates are significantly lower with a 15% less likely chance of being breastfed.7 There are many mothers in the U.S. who wish to start and continue with breastfeeding; however, these rates uncover the issue which is lack of support.

“Given the importance of breastfeeding on the health of mothers and children, it is critical that we take action to support breastfeeding. Only through the support of family, communities, clinicians, healthcare systems, and employers will we be able to make breastfeeding the easy choice.”

Dr. Jerome M. Adams, U.S. Surgeon General

The new mothers of this need our support, and The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding will help all of us see how we all can cheerfully and regularly minimize some of the issues/dilemmas that may prevent or affect women who wish to breastfeed.

Common Issues and Dilemmas Plaguing Women Trying To Breastfeed8

  • Lack of experience or familial support [for mothers and babies]
  • Lack of opportunities to discuss the experience with breastfeeding mothers
  • Lack of relevant and up-to-date instruction and information from healthcare professionals
  • Lack of accommodation at work & efficient start on breastfeeding in hospital practices

Read more about breastfeeding and CDC initiatives to further educate the public and advocate actively for mothers and infants, and more here.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that infants be exclusively breastfed around the first 6 months of life, as well as, there ought to be continued breastfeeding alongside the introduction of appropriate complementary foods for 1 year or longer.9 This maximizes physiological benefits for both the mother and baby.

In addition, infants who are breastfeed receive protection against diseases such as bacteremia, urinary tract infections, late-onset sepsis in preterm infants, childhood overweight and obesity, and various cancers. Breastfeeding also can help the mother with lactation amenorrhea11. You can find these benefits on the AAP website when you click this link.

It serves great benefits to the environment and society as well. According to The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding, families that proceed in optimal breastfeeding can save $1.200-$1,500 on infant formula in the first year alone. Thanks to benefits, infant health is likely better and that leads to breastfeeding families less likely being sick often as well as fewer health insurance claims and parents missing less work (so higher productivity)8. There is no worry of needing a manufactured product (i.e. Similac) or making waste or air pollution, AND the milk is always at the right temperature and ready to feed11.

How Can We All Work to Support Breastfeeding Mothers?

The Surgeon General’s 2011 Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding provides the following considerations8:

Healthcare Providers (HCPs)

  • Hospitals: Incorporate recommendations of UNICEF/WHO’s Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative.
  • Provide breastfeeding education for health clinicians caring for women and children.
  • Ensure access to International Board Certified Lactation Consultants.


  • Start and maintain high-quality, lactation support programs for employees.
  • Provide proper break time and a private space (not a bathroom) for breastfeeding employees to express milk.
  • Implement strategies to address barriers women face when combining work and breastfeeding.

Family and Community Members

  • Encourage and support pregnant women and new mothers to breastfeed.
  • Offer assistance and encouragement to breastfeeding mothers.


  • Develop and implement policies that support breastfeeding in healthcare, workplace, and community settings.
  • Ensure access to comprehensive and collaborative maternity care practices.