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.
It makes sense to share the benefits of breastfeeding—and the risks of not breastfeeding—with families. Refer to Breastfeeding for a Head Start for those materials. While the research around breastfeeding is compelling, the number one reason that families choose to breastfeed is that they believe breastfeeding will help them bond with their children.
While some families will be quick to decide to breastfeed, others face real challenges in making that decision. Research has found that the three most common barriers to breastfeeding cited by families are:
- Busy schedules (including returning to work)
- Lack of support from family, friends, and community
The following resources offer information specific to these challenges and others.
General Discussion of Barriers:
- Breastfeeding: Why Not Give It a Try?
- To Baby with Love: Overcoming Breastfeeding Barriers (DVD information)
1. Busy Schedules
3. Lack of Support from Family, Friends, and Community
- Encouragement: Give a Breastfeeding Mom Your Loving Support
- Fathers Supporting Breastfeeding
- Breastfeeding Success: What Dads Can Do
- Support Your Partner
- Dads Supporting Breastfeeding (videos)
- Support Your Daughter
- Grandchild on the Way?
It is important that staff learn the challenges facing each family. Problem solving with families about how they might address each of the challenges they identify is an important part of providing support. The best strategies for families come out of discussions about their unique situations and the supports available to them. Those supports include encouraging friends or family, program materials or activities, or community resources.