Breastfeeding benefits the mother and child. This booklet is a guide specifically designed for expecting American Indian and Alaska Native mothers.
Use this sample policy for promoting and supporting breastfeeding as a guide to review and improve your program's policy.
Currently, the Head Start Program Performance Standards require breastfeeding education for expectant families and accommodations for breastfeeding children. Breastfeeding provides a true head start for the children that Head Start programs serve. Research shows that breastfeeding has important long-term impacts on the health and development of children and the health and well-being of mothers. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and many other health organizations recommend that babies breastfeed exclusively for the first six months.
A woman’s lifestyle may affect her breast milk, and impact the baby’ health. Mothers should talk to their doctor before taking medications because small amounts can pass through the breast milk. Mothers can use this information to educate themselves about the consequences of taking medications and about seeking a doctor’s advice to make sure the medications are safe.
In working with expectant families, Early Head Start staff have a great opportunity to share information and support. There are also simple things that staff working with older children can do when working with families getting ready for another baby. Start talking with families about breastfeeding as early as possible. Breastfeeding decisions are often made early in pregnancy. The questions in this document can help open the discussion about breastfeeding.
A woman’s lifestyle may affect her breast milk, and have an impact on the baby. During breastfeeding, it is important for a woman not to consume alcohol, smoke, or take drugs. These substances are known to pass through the breast milk. This information can help mothers to understand better about the consequences of smoking, using drugs, and drinking alcohol during pregnancy.
The federal resources below provide current information on a variety of topics related to breastfeeding. Early Head Start and Migrant and Seasonal Head Start programs can share data and tips with expectant families and families with breastfeeding children. It also may be useful to program administrators, staff, and health and nutrition coordinators.
While making milk is natural, breastfeeding is a skill that mothers and babies learn. It is helpful for parents to know that it is not always easy, but that help is available. Mothers often benefit from knowing techniques and strategies such as how to position the baby, signs of a good latch, infant feeding patterns, etc. As women learn to breastfeed their babies, they often have many questions and concerns. They need individualized support.
There are many benefits to breastfeeding. Even if you are able to do it for only a short time, your baby's immune system can benefit from breast milk. This information explains the added benefits of breastfeeding for yourself, your baby, and how it influences society.
The decision to breastfeed is a family decision. Fathers, grandparents, and extended family often provide crucial support to young children and breastfeeding mothers. Different families involve different family members in a baby's care. Talk with families about who will provide support after the baby is born. Remember that all members of the family need information and an opportunity to share their experiences and feelings about breastfeeding.