Breastmilk is the optimal food for babies, but there are many reasons a mother may choose not to breastfeed. During your doula certification, you’ll learn to support moms no matter what decision they make.
The Center for Disease Control recently published its Breastfeeding Report Card for 2016. It states that breastfeeding is a “key strategy to improve public health” due to its known health benefits for babies as well as mothers.
The current recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is that:
- Infants be breastfed exclusively for the first six months of life.
- Infants continue to breastfeed for at least one year with the addition of complimentary foods.
The bi-annual report compiles national data on breastfeeding rates from all US states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico with the goal of analyzing how our nation is progressing to meet the breastfeeding objectives set by Healthy People (HP2020).
In summary, the HP2020 objectives include:
- Increase breastfeeding initiation.
- Increase worksite support for breastfeeding mothers.
- Reduce formula supplementation within the first two days of life.
- Increase number of births that occur in “baby friendly” hospitals.
This year’s report found that breastfeeding rates are continuing to rise. Over half the states already meet the goal of 81.9% for breastfeeding initiation. Fewer states are meeting the goals of breastfeeding duration and exclusivity.
The writers of the report surmise that although mothers seem to be motivated to breastfeed early on, they may not be receiving the right kind of support from health care providers, family, and employers, which is why rates decline as babies get older. They note that the “early postpartum period is critical for establishing and supporting breastfeeding.”
This is great information to keep in mind during your doula certification and beyond.
You’ll learn during your doula certification that both birth and postpartum doulas can be a key part of the equation in the early postpartum period. As a birth doula, you will likely be there the first time your client nurses their newborn. You can help guide the process as the mother learns to positon and latch her baby. As a postpartum doula, you can help in a variety of ways once your client settles in at home.
It’s crucial that doulas:
- Be educated on breastfeeding basics and common problems.
- Have resources for local lactation consultants and know when to refer a client out if a problem arises.
However, learning about breastfeeding during your doula certification is only part of the equation. In addition to breastfeeding basics, you will also learn the proper way to prepare bottles and support formula feeding families.
On the heels of such an important report, talking about formula feeding can seem like a tricky topic. Breastfeeding is important for public health, but a mother’s postpartum emotional health may hinge the support receives in her early days with her new baby.
There are a variety of reasons that a mother may choose not to breastfeed. These reasons can range from supply issues, to a mother who is taking medication that is incompatible with breastfeeding, to a mother who has a past history of abuse.
No matter the reason, choosing whether or not to breastfeed is often an emotional decision.
Additionally, feeding a baby is not necessarily a dichotomy. New mothers have the option of exclusively breastfeeding, pumping milk to feed to from a bottle, exclusively formula feeding, or any combination of the three. After earning your doula certification, you will have the knowledge to guide and support mothers in any of these situations.
This is why we always talk about remaining non-judgmental and unbiased. IDI’s doula certification program covers all aspects of baby care so that you can confidently, and compassionately support your clients and meet them where they are.
The bottom line is that the early days with a baby are challenging. New mothers deserve someone who is 100% on their side no matter how they choose to feed their baby.