We’ve spoken a lot about the benefits of feeding supports, particularly for breastfeeding moms and babies. This implies there are unintended consequences if their availability were to be limited.
Since we have yet to dig into our thinking here, let’s take another look at why feeding support products are so important, and what might happen if products face burdensome restrictions in the form of misinformed rulemaking or regulatory action.
A study published in Pediatric Reports found nursing pillows are providing important support for mothers trying to breastfeed. Here’s what the study specifically finds:
“The use of a breastfeeding pillow significantly decreases maternal discomfort experienced during the breastfeeding process. Maternal comfort is expected to enhance the quality of breastfeeding by improving the position and attachment of the mother-baby during the breastfeeding process, increasing the baby’s sucking ability and the period of baby’s breastfeeding to ensure optimal nutrition or improve the baby’s suckling needs. A comfortable and relaxed condition can also suppress the release of stress hormones and increase the hormones that play a role in breast milk production. Thus, it is important to implement the use of a breastfeeding pillow among postpartum mothers.”
There are many other studies with similar findings, which have informed guidance published by organizations including American Academy of Pediatrics, La Leche League and U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program.
If we accept these findings as truth, we should also acknowledge the impact of limiting availability of feeding support products, either by putting restrictions on the shape, size, or design of the products most often turned to by new moms.
If a breastfeeding mom is unable to position and hold baby in a position that creates effective attachment while trying to nurse, is uncomfortable, or the process creates stress between baby and mom, the chance that mom and baby will be successful in reaching the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of an infant’s life will likely drop precipitously.
Put plainly, we risk fewer moms breastfeeding.
The key to ensuring that doesn’t happen is to protect the availability of the entire category. BFIDSA’s work supports the proposed rulemaking process and the notion that the creation of any voluntary or mandatory standard must be rooted in data and evidence that acknowledges the important role of feeding supports for baby, postpartum moms, and caregivers.