This resolution is important for three reasons.
First, it will coincide with National Breastfeeding Awareness Month in August to recognize the unique benefits that breastfeeding provides.
In spite of the backlash sparked by the once breast-is-best dogma, science continues to approve that breastmilk does provide babies with the best nutrients that they need.
Breastmilk contains antibodies that help babies fight off viruses and bacteria; it also contains other elements that protect babies from illness and chronic disease. Breastfeeding lowers babies’ risk of having asthma or allergies. Plus, babies who are breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months, without any formula, have fewer ear infections respiratory illnesses, and bouts of diarrhea. Additionally, mothers who breastfeed experience their own benefits, including convenience and reduced stress. Research shows that breastfeeding helps prevent postpartum depression. Breastfeeding also provides a unique emotional experience for the nursing mother and the baby.
Second, it would affirm that the State of California should work to ensure that barriers to initiation and continuation of breastfeeding are removed.
Many mothers experience barriers to initiate breastfeeding. Building an environment supportive of breastfeeding, such as implementing the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, can make a positive impact on breastfeeding outcomes.
Even more mothers experience barriers to maintain a breastfeeding with their babies upon returning to work. Current California law requires employers to provide reasonable break time and space to nursing employees, but too many mothers don’t know their rights, and too many employers ignore their obligations. Nursing moms deserve supports and we as a society should at least remove these barriers for them.
Third, the measure would also encourage the State Department of Health Care Services, the State Department of Public Health, the Department of Industrial Relations, the California Breastfeeding Coalition, and other stakeholders to work together to explore ways to, among other things, improve women’s access to breastfeeding support services in medical, social, and employment settings.
Breastfeeding is a team work. Mom needs support and encouragement to reach her breastfeeding goals and everyone can help making breastfeeding easier. Supporting breastfeeding is also a team work. Maternity care practices, professional education, access to professional support, peer support programs, and support for breastfeeding in early care are equally important.
ACR 234 is currently In the Assembly Health Committee awaiting action–Resolutions do not need to be signed into law by the Governor. Let’s celebrate breastfeeding!