Tag: breastfeed

Unleashing A Woman’s Power to Breastfeed

As World Breastfeeding Week kicks off today, 1,000 Days Executive Director Lucy Sullivan published a new piece on Huffington Post to bring attention to the consequences of our collective failure to support women to breastfeed.

Women have the ability to improve the health and well-being of their children, their communities and the world because they have the ability to make milk, nature’s perfect nutrition for babies. Yet women in every corner of the world face too many barriers to start breastfeeding and continue breastfeeding successfully. This is our collective responsibility, for when we fail to support women to breastfeed, we all feel the consequences.

With targeted investments in the right policies and programs, we can save lives, improve health and build prosperity. For just $5 per baby, we could save 520,000 lives by simply ensuring that half of the world’s children are breastfed for the first 6 months of life.

This is a global call to action – for all of us. Together we can help unleash a woman’s power to breastfeed and her power to transform the world.

Read the “Breaking Breastfeeding Barriers” on Huffington Post.

Couldn’t have done it without ACA

My son Diego surprised us all when he was born in April 2015, seven weeks before his due date.

After an otherwise uneventful pregnancy, during which I was fortunate to receive top rate prenatal care, his pre-term delivery came quickly and unexpectedly, without much warning.

My husband and I weren’t ready for his arrival, simply because we thought we had more time. We didn’t have a car seat, Diego’s crib was still in a box, and my husband and I spent the minutes between contractions searching the internet as we tried to decide on a middle name.

As parents, it was one thing that we were not prepared. But more importantly, Diego wasn’t ready for his own arrival. Born at 33 weeks, weighing just over five pounds, his lungs were not fully matured and he did not understand the basic survival technique of how to eat on his own, a skill developed in the third trimester.

Diego spent 17 days in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

Our family is thankful for the care he received there and the support that we were given as new (and scared) parents.

Although his care was invaluable to us, it did come with a specific price tag: Diego’s two-week hospital stay approached $300,000.

We were lucky that Diego didn’t suffer from any enduring health problems – he was simply born too early. But many infants who spend time in the NICU require more intensive procedures or longer hospital stays.

Their hospital bills can quickly add up to well over a million dollars.

In 2009, before the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), 59 percent of all workers (and their families) covered by employer health plans had a lifetime limit on their health insurance benefits. This means that there was a maximum dollar amount health insurance companies agreed to pay. If you surpassed that amount, then the cost for health services came out of your own pocket.

While those limits varied (and sometimes were as low as $1 million), many infants with NICU stays reached their lifetime limits on health insurance before they even left the hospital.

With the passage of the ACA, lifetime limits were prohibited, alleviating that concern for families of pre-term infants and others facing medical complications.

Because Diego was born before he learned how to eat on his own, he spent the first week of his life being fed through a feeding tube. As I knew the benefits of breast milk, particularly for a pre-term infant, I was intent on breastfeeding Diego.

While some moms who experience pre-term labor have difficulty producing breast milk, I was relieved that my hospital was supportive of my goal to breastfeed, lending me a breast pump to use in the hospital within an hour of delivery.

Outside of the hospital, I was also fortunate to benefit from the ACA provision that requires health insurers to cover the costs of a breast pump for new moms. Without this support, many new moms are unable to purchase effective breast pumps, making it impossible for them to meet their own breastfeeding goals.

When Diego was released from the hospital, he was able to effectively feed from a bottle but we still struggled during our many attempted breastfeeding sessions.

Discouraged, I was thankful to find out from a friend that the ACA also required health insurers to provide access to lactation support services. I credit the supportive and skilled assistance of a local lactation consultant for saving my breastfeeding relationship.

When I returned to work after my paid maternity leave, I was also provided time to pump during the work day – a right protected under the ACA. These key provisions allowed me to meet – and even exceed – my initial breastfeeding goals.

Our family felt lucky to have the support and care that both Diego and I needed during such a vulnerable period in our lives. But it shouldn’t be left to luck.

As the healthcare debate continues in the halls of Congress and beyond, it is critical that the United States maintains health coverage for all, regardless of employment or income, and that that health insurance is affordable and comprehensive, providing the coverage needed for children and their families to thrive.

Any effort to eliminate the protections I benefitted from would have detrimental effects for moms and babies everywhere.

And that is why I added my name to the petition: Don’t Let Congress Take Away Your Healthcare.

The Health of Moms and Babies Should Not Be Left To Luck

Through my work at 1,000 Days, I have had the opportunity to listen to countless stories from new moms across the country struggling with little or no paid time off.

Women like Samantha whose son was born three months premature and – after spending what maternity leave she did have at the NICU – was forced to make the horrible decision between caring for her son and returning to work. She decided to quit – a choice no new mother in this country should be forced to make.

I heard Stephanie’s story – a single working mom working at a high-end hotel restaurant, which offers no paid leave for new parents, yet offers healthcare for employees’ pets.

I even had the opportunity to share some of these stories with Members of Congress in Washington, DC. Earlier this year we teamed up with our colleagues at the National Partnership for Women and Families to deliver more than 230,000 signatures from men and women around the country calling on Congress to support paid family leave.

Six months ago my work became personal when I gave birth to my baby girl. And just like that I had something in common with all the women whose stories I had heard.

But here’s where my story differs – I had paid leave through my employer 1,000 Days. I was not forced to choose between my job and caring for my daughter. I am that lucky.

During my leave I was very aware of my luck.

In the sleep-deprived haze of those first few weeks of my daughter’s life, in which I was recovering from surgery and learning to breastfeed, I can distinctly remember thinking that I could not imagine going back to work after just two weeks. Yet so many new moms in America are forced to – 1 in 4 according to data from the Department of Labor.

I was incredibly lucky to have had the time I needed to care for myself and my daughter. But the health of America’s moms and babies should never be left to luck.

Parents need time to bond with their newborns. Moms need time to recover from childbirth. And mom and baby need time to establish breastfeeding, which is proven to have significant health benefits for both women and children.

While 80% of women initiate breastfeeding, only 50% of women meet their breastfeeding goals.

Right now we have a patchwork of policies, where some lucky Americans (just 12%) have access to paid leave through their employers. Some people live in states like California and Rhode Island with paid leave policies, and the rest are just…out of luck.

American families deserve better.

All workers in America should have access to paid leave – it’s in the best interest of all of us, as individuals and as a society.

Adrianna Logalbo
Managing Director
1,000 Days