ACOG Committee Opinion No. 756 Summary: Optimizing Support for Breastfeeding as Part of Obstetric Practice

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Abstract

As reproductive health experts and advocates for women’s health who work in conjunction with other obstetric and pediatric health care providers, obstetrician–gynecologists are uniquely positioned to enable women to achieve their infant feeding goals. Maternity care policies and practices that support breastfeeding are improving nationally; however, more work is needed to ensure all women receive optimal breastfeeding support during prenatal care, during their maternity stay, and after the birth occurs. Enabling women to breastfeed is a public health priority because, on a population level, interruption of lactation is associated with adverse health outcomes for the woman and her child, including higher maternal risks of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease, and greater infant risks of infectious disease, sudden infant death syndrome, and metabolic disease. Contraindications to breastfeeding are few. Most medications and vaccinations are safe for use during breastfeeding, with few exceptions. Breastfeeding confers medical, economic, societal, and environmental advantages; however, each woman is uniquely qualified to make an informed decision surrounding infant feeding. Obstetrician–gynecologists and other obstetric care providers should discuss the medical and nonmedical benefits of breastfeeding with women and families. Because lactation is an integral part of reproductive physiology, all obstetrician–gynecologists and other obstetric care providers should develop and maintain skills in anticipatory guidance, support for normal breastfeeding physiology, and management of common complications of lactation. Obstetrician–gynecologists and other obstetric care providers should support women and encourage policies that enable women to integrate breastfeeding into their daily lives and in the workplace. This Committee Opinion has been revised to include additional guidance for obstetrician–gynecologists and other obstetric care providers to better enable women in unique circumstances to achieve their breastfeeding goals.

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