There are powerful motivations for a woman to breastfeed. When she encounters difficulty, what is it that helps her continue? First, it’s her own motivation and then, simply put, it’s the kind of support she receives.
To be specific, it’s with face-to-face support that a mother is more likely to exclusively breastfeed for longer. This is exactly why I make home visits.
A recent review, titled “Support for Healthy Breastfeeding Mothers with Healthy Term Babies” affirms the value of peer and personal support. It compared the effectiveness of prenatal education, phone counseling, peer support groups (e.g Baby Café, Nursing Mothers Council) and one-to-one guidance. These are all effective to different degrees. Sometimes it’s hard to find a group or travel there. Face to face, like home visits are convenient and personal. Many families aren’t aware this is an option, worry about the expense or just don’t ask.
We can improve upon what we know here and make breastfeeding support more accessible.
Here are four ways to make good support available to more families.
1. Employers can include home visits in the Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) as part of an employee benefit package. Invest in your employee’s productivity and loyalty. Show your commitment to community well being. That’s good for business. Feel free to introduce me to your employer’s HR department, we can talk more.
2. Insurance companies can cover home visits. It’s a proactive use of health care funds. Currently in the Boston area, there’s one insurance company that fully reimburses for home visits in the first six weeks.
3. Gift certificates for home visits are a thoughtful baby shower item and as practical as a new car seat. Honestly, warm meals and home visits in the first weeks have the most enduring affect.
4. Plan ahead and save $150-300 during pregnancy for this expense. $300 is less than 1/10th of a year’s worth of formula. Getting good support has long term benefits for the whole family and the planet. My! You’ve made an excellent investment indeed.
Imagine this: Breastfeeding as the norm, home visits as a regular part of postpartum care and good support within every family’s reach.