The following fictionalized stories help illustrate the importance of breastfeeding and some of the barriers and challenges that make it difficult to initiate and continue exclusive breastfeeding for six months or more – the length of time proven to bring a number of health benefits for mom & baby. Although these stories are fictional, they are based on real-life scenarios playing out every day across Kansas.
Beth’s Story: Beth is pregnant, expecting her first child in two months. She has been thinking about breastfeeding her newborn. There seem to be many benefits for her and the baby’s health, but she will have to go back to work three weeks after the infant is born. Her grandmother will take care of the child while Beth works and is not encouraging Beth to breastfeed…”just too much trouble to pump milk and refrigerate it.” At a WIC meeting, the local health department offers all of the new-to-be moms the loan of a high-quality breast pump if they want to breastfeed and urges them to breastfeed because of the money savings and health benefits. Beth decides with the availability of the efficient and dependable breast pump — which she could not have afforded — that breastfeeding is the way to go for her new baby.
Rod’s Story: Rod is the HR Director for a small Kansas company employing 85 full-time workers. Rod has heard that the Affordable Care Act requires employers to provide a clean and accessible space (not the women’s bathroom) for new moms to use for either breastfeeding their newborns or pumping milk and refrigerating it. This is a little annoying to Rod — just one more government requirement. He attends the local HR directors’ association meeting and hears a speaker from the Kansas Business Case for Breastfeeding program. The speaker explains how easy and practical it is for employers to set aside a small private space for new mothers to use for breastfeeding and pumping. The speaker also explains the many health benefits to baby and mom from breastfeeding as well as the risks of formula. Rod arranges for the speaker to visit the company and help figure out the right space and equipment for the company’s new breastfeeding room. Rod is pleased that the Business Case for Breastfeeding can even provide a grant to cover the small refrigerator, multi-user pump and a few of the furnishings for the lactation room. Rod is able to promote the new employee breastfeeding room as another company employee benefit and two employees use it regularly in the first year.
Leticia’s Story: “Breastfeeding is for people who can’t afford formula,” explains Leticia’s mother. “You were formula-fed and there is nothing wrong with you.” Leticia is a young, single mom who is completing her technical college degree to become an LPN. Her mother’s advice is different from what she has heard during her training, but she is frankly uncertain about who to believe and how she could breastfeed if she gets a job soon after the new baby is born. Leticia and her partner are attending pre-birth Lamaze classes at the local hospital. The hospital lactation consultant speaks to the class one evening. Leticia is convinced by the speaker that the benefits of breastfeeding are just too good to miss for her child and herself. The consultant, who recently received lactation training and certification using scholarship help from the United Methodist Health Ministry Fund, provides Leticia with her phone number so Leticia can call her if any problems with breastfeeding develop. The consultant also explains that the hospital will support her decision with good post-birth practices (quick skin-to-skin contact, no food or drink besides breastmilk unless medically indicated, and rooming-in with her child from the moment of birth). Leticia believes she can breastfeed with this support at a hospital (and the pump they will loan her) and she has a few things to share with her mother.
Mona’s Story: The billboard read “Breast milk is the natural and healthy way.” The billboard also had the phone number of the state health department indicating someone there with expertise in breastfeeding could visit with you if you had any questions. Mona had started breastfeeding Todd with the urging of her mother and nurses at the hospital. It had been two weeks since Todd’s birth, and Mona dreaded each breastfeeding time more and more. It was supposed to be easy, but it wasn’t with this baby. He struggled to latch and seemed indifferent sometimes. He was gaining weight but that did not relieve her concern. The formula in the bag from the hospital looked so inviting and every time she went to the store there was the aisle full of brand-name “vitamin-enriched” products encouraging her to stop breastfeeding. Mona pulled into the driveway, remembered the health department phone number and dialed. A friendly person called a lactation consultant listened to Mona explain her concerns, provided some suggestions which Mona had not considered, and encouraged Mona about the good decision she had made to breastfeed Todd. The next feeding went much better using the techniques the consultant had suggested. Mona would keep breastfeeding Todd, thanks to a billboard, a phone call, and an available expert encourager.
The Impact Funding Team Story: Impact Funding is a “team” activity giving each donor the opportunity to participate in the philanthropic process. Each donor becomes a member of the Impact Funding Team, and may choose to take part in the process as much or as little as he or she desires. The Impact Funding Team determines how the entire team’s money and matching funds from the Health Ministry Fund will be deployed to have the most impact in the identified target area (for 2014 and 2015 – exclusive breastfeeding birth to six months) in Kansas. By donating and participating, a team member improves the likelihood that more Kansas babies will begin life with the benefits of breastfeeding. Learn more about Impact Funding here.