How do you create a program that welcomes and supports breastfeeding?
First, you begin with the staff. See The Important Role of Staff in Breastfeeding Education and Support section of this guide for more information on how to prepare staff to do this work.
Then, you create a physical environment that is welcoming to breastfeeding women and babies. Below is a tool to help you think about how the physical environment in your program supports breastfeeding.
There are small things that you can do around the center, your socialization sites, and your offices that promote and accommodate breastfeeding. Posters that show women breastfeeding their babies and Breastfeeding Welcome Here signs send the message that breastfeeding is welcomed and supported in your program. Some programs have purchased comfortable glider chairs where breastfeeding mothers can sit with their babies. Others have cozy corners or even small rooms that are designed for a breastfeeding mother's comfort. Even if you do not have a space exclusively for breastfeeding, let families know that "Mothers can breastfeed anywhere in our program. If you would prefer a more private place, we will find one for you." In some programs, families have access to a hospital grade pump that they can use to express milk for their babies.
Promotional Resources and Support:
- The International Breastfeeding Symbol
- Support Breastfeeding Mothers
- Breastfed Babies Welcome Here! A Guide for Child Care Providers
- Mother's Milk: Welcoming and Supporting Breastfeeding in Your Program (audiocast)
- Proper Handling and Storage of Human Milk
As you develop a breastfeeding welcoming environment, it is also important to know the laws in your state about breastfeeding. While not every state has legislation to protect breastfeeding mothers, many do. For a summary of breastfeeding legislation by state, go to:
It can also be helpful to have written policies and procedures for breastfeeding promotion and support. Use the following sample to create breastfeeding policies and procedures that are meaningful for your program and community.
Remember your community partners! Women, Infants and Children (WIC) is a great resource for materials, support, and staff training around breastfeeding. Talk with your local WIC office to see what they offer breastfeeding mothers in your community. Public health programs, La Leche, and your hospital may provide additional services to families and staff interested in learning about and gathering support for breastfeeding. Learn who is in your community and what they offer. These are important community resources for families.
- Partnering with WIC for Breastfeeding Success
- WIC Nutrition Coordinators & Breastfeeding Coordinators
- La Leche USA website
Consider your Policy Council and Health Services Advisory Committee. Are lactation services represented? If so, how? If not, how can you include lactation services? Look to WIC or La Leche, or use the International Lactation Consultants Association directory to locate a consultant near you. Type in your zip code on their website to find a lactation consultant near you.