ASHEVILLE, N.C. (August 5, 2022)—Aeroflow Breastpumps, a durable medical equipment (DME) provider specializing in helping pregnant and nursing women receive maternity and postpartum recovery items through their insurance, has announced the results of a proprietary survey designed to highlight the need for improved access to lactation services to help women achieve their breastfeeding goals.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding of infants for the first six months of life given the benefits to their overall health and development, but according to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 58.3% of infants in the U.S. were breastfeeding at six months. As such, increasing the proportion of infants who are exclusively breastfed through age six months and continue to receive breast milk through age one are key objectives for Healthy People 2030.
However, significant barriers remain in place that prevent women who are able and willing to breastfeed from achieving their goals—the largest of which is lack of access to proper lactation support and resources. To understand new and expectant moms' experiences with and expectations for breastfeeding, Aeroflow Breastpumps surveyed pregnant women who are planning to breastfeed (n=804) and new moms with children under two (n=856) who were or still are breastfeeding. The findings suggest that broadened access to lactation services through insurance coverage and employer benefits would enable moms across the country to more easily meet and exceed their breastfeeding goals.
Notable survey results include:
- 55% of new and expectant moms believe there is not enough awareness surrounding the existence of lactation support services
- 63% of new moms believe that increased access to breastfeeding resources would've allowed them to breastfeed longer
- Despite one-in-three new moms (32%) reporting not feeling ready or only somewhat ready to breastfeed after meeting with a lactation consultant at least once in the hospital, more than half (52%) did not seek the advice of a lactation consultant upon returning home—yet the majority (62%) reported it would have been helpful in the days and weeks following their birth
- Among new moms who are no longer breastfeeding, half of them (50%) quit due to preventable breastfeeding complications and nearly one-in-four (24%) had to stop breastfeeding when they returned to work
- Due to the ongoing nationwide formula shortage, nearly two-in-five (38%) new moms are now planning to breastfeed for a longer period of time and nearly one-in-five (19%) are more motivated to use lactation support services
- Less than half of new and expectant moms surveyed (47%) reported their health insurance provides coverage for lactation consulting
- Only 43% of new and expectant moms reported that their employer provides access to lactation services as part of company benefits
- 62% of employed new and expectant moms would consider changing jobs for a company that offers better breastfeeding resources/services
The demand for increased access to breastfeeding support and services is clear. Among new moms whose insurance does not cover lactation consulting, 79% of them reported they would be/have been likely or very likely to participate in lactation consulting if their insurance covered the cost, and nearly all expectant moms surveyed (88%) report they would be likely or very likely to pay for breastfeeding supplies/resources if they're not covered by insurance.
These tools need to be accessible not only after giving birth, but throughout pregnancy as well to help moms prepare as much as possible. Among the new and expectant moms surveyed, 38% sought advice from a lactation consultant when preparing to breastfeed, and almost all new moms surveyed either engaged with a lactation consultant after giving birth or said it would've been helpful if they did. Additionally, the most common issues experienced by new moms who breastfed or are still breastfeeding might have been alleviated if they had access to lactation support services through their insurance or employer. The top three reasons why nearly half of the new moms surveyed (46%) stopped breastfeeding were breastfeeding complications (such as mastitis, difficulty with latch, low milk supply, etc.) (50%), going back to work (24%) and just wanting to be done (27%). The top issues among new moms who are still breastfeeding include breastfeeding complications (37%), significant sleep deprivation (35%), establishing a feeding schedule (29%), juggling breastfeeding and working (27%) and difficulty using a breast pump (20%).
With more moms now determined to breastfeed given the ongoing nationwide baby formula shortage, access to lactation resources becomes all the more important. In fact, when asked how the formula shortage has impacted their breastfeeding goals, 56% of expectant moms are more motivated to prepare for breastfeeding and 30% are now preparing to breastfeed for a longer period of time. Among new moms, nearly two-in-five (38%) are now planning to breastfeed for a longer period of time and nearly one-in-five (19%) are more motivated to use lactation support services.
"Breastfeeding is not an easy task, and without broadened access to lactation support and resources, many mothers who want to breastfeed may struggle to achieve their breastfeeding goals," said Dr. Jessica Madden, medical director of Aeroflow Breastpumps. "Among the new moms we surveyed who are no longer breastfeeding, one-in-three intended to breastfeed for nine to 12 months, but only 13% of them achieved that goal. What's more, 75% of the expectant moms we surveyed are planning to breastfeed anywhere between three to 12 months, and they need and deserve the resources necessary to help them reach that."
"As an IBCLC, I've seen the myriad of issues new moms have experienced that can make the breastfeeding experience stressful and frustrating, such as clogged milk ducts, trouble latching, low milk supply, establishing a feeding schedule and more, which without guidance, can ultimately result in a mother ending her breastfeeding journey early. Not to mention the obstacles posed when new moms return to work and are not provided adequate support," continued Madden. "Both health insurance providers and employers play a huge role in increasing access to critical breastfeeding resources that will help moms reach their breastfeeding goals and allow both mom and baby to reap the health benefits of breastfeeding. Aeroflow Breastpumps is committed to helping all moms secure breastfeeding supplies through insurance and providing educational resources to aid in their journey."
The third party-administered survey polled 1,660 women living in the United States, 804 of whom are pregnant and 856 of whom have children between ages zero and two. Responses were collected throughout June 2022.
Visit aeroflowinc.com for more information.