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Health & Baby

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Surgeon General Urges Support for Breastfeeding

Benjamin Asks Families and Employers to Make Breastfeeding Easier for Moms

Second Opinion

The call to action was supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Dietetic Association, among other organizations.

In a statement, the AAP says: "Dr. Benjamin's report adds increased federal attention to the importance of breastfeeding, identifying areas for continued improvement and building support for breastfeeding mothers across the country."

"This is an important new approach," says Ruth Lawrence, MD, professor of pediatrics and obstetrics/gynecology and director of the Human Lactation Study Center at the University of Rochester School of Medicine.

Instead of focusing on breastfeeding itself and its known benefits, the call to action is focusing on reducing obstacles. "It's about making it possible for women to succeed, making it easier for women to accomplish their goals," Lawrence says.

"Breastfeeding is truly the best gift any family can give to their baby," says Tonya Lewis Lee, a mother, attorney, and television producer who spoke at the news conference. "No one should feel guilty if they can't breastfeed."

Lee says when she breastfed, she needed her husband, filmmaker Spike Lee, to remind her that the act is beautiful and needed her mother ''to remind me to be patient." She also needed the help of a breastfeeding girlfriend who ''taught me how to settle down and relax."

Until the call to action steps are implemented more fully, what can mothers do to get breastfeeding support?

"You can get support by making your intention to breastfeed known to your family, friends, and employer," says Laurence Grummer-Strawn, PhD, of the CDC, who joined the question-and-answer session at the conference.

"Too often, women keep that decision to themselves, and no one knows their support is needed."

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