The Lactation Supportive Environments (LSE) project takes an upstream approach to obesity and disease prevention by increasing the number of settings (such as businesses, school districts and community healthcare centers) that support lactation accommodation and breastfeeding-friendly environments. Through technical assistance, which includes capacity building, partnerships, policy implementation, systems enhancements and environmental change strategies, LSE focuses on reducing barriers to the initiation and continuation of breastfeeding.
Breast milk is the ideal first food for newborns, and the benefits of breastfeeding have a lifelong impact on health. Early infant feeding practices can affect later growth and development in children and significantly impact their risk for childhood illnesses and chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and asthma. Initiation of breastfeeding at birth in California is 92.8%. However, after hospital discharge rates drop dramatically, with only 56.1% of mothers exclusively breastfeeding at three months and even fewer mothers, 25.4%, exclusively breastfeeding at six months.
There are many barriers that may contribute to the decline in breastfeeding rates including lack of support, going back to work, absence of supportive child care and difficulty initiating or maintaining breastfeeding. Mothers need continued support, resources and care after they leave the hospital to help them meet their breastfeeding goals. Working mothers have lower breastfeeding rates and shorter duration of breastfeeding compared to non-working mothers, and mothers in low income occupations have lower breastfeeding rates than those in higher income occupations.
Effective interventions to improve breastfeeding must address both initiation and duration to provide the greatest benefit to children’s long term health. Improving lactation policies in businesses, school districts and community healthcare centers will increase the number of women who choose to breastfeed and assist women to extend the length of time that they breastfeed.
The LSE project is supported by funding from First 5 Commission of San Diego as part of the County of San Diego’s larger wellness strategy, Live Well San Diego.
Get in Touch
Shana Wright Bruno, MPH, CHES