On January 20, 2011, Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin released The Surgeon General's Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding, outlining steps that can be taken to remove some of the obstacles faced by women who want to breastfeed their babies.
“Many barriers exist for mothers who want to breastfeed,” Dr.
Benjamin said. “They shouldn’t have to go it alone. Whether you’re a
clinician, a family member, a friend, or an employer, you can play an
important part in helping mothers who want to breastfeed. Of course,
the decision to breastfeed is a personal one,” she added, “no mother
should be made to feel guilty if she cannot or chooses not to
While 75 percent of U.S. babies start out breastfeeding, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, only 13 percent are exclusively breastfed at the end of six months. The rates are particularly low among African-American infants. Many mothers who attempt to breastfeed say several factors impede their efforts, such as a lack of support at home; absence of family members who have experience with breastfeeding; a lack of breastfeeding information from health care clinicians; a lack of time and privacy to breastfeed or express milk at the workplace; and an inability to connect with other breastfeeding mothers in their communities.
Dr. Benjamin’s “Call to Action” identifies ways that families, communities, employers and health care professionals can improve breastfeeding rates and increase support for breastfeeding:
Family members can help mother’s prepare for breastfeeding and support their continued breastfeeding, including after her return to work or school.