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Start Healthy with BreastfeedingBreastfeeding Graphic

"It May Be Natural, But It's Not Easy." This is what many Kansas women report when trying to exclusively breastfeed their children for at least the recommended six months.

Many Benefits, Many Challenges
The proven benefits of exclusive breastfeeding for at least six months are numerous, including:

  • Protection against illness and infection
  • Reduced likelihood of developing asthma
  • Reduced likelihood of becoming obese - for both child and mom
  • Reduced risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
  • Reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancers
  • Significant financial savings - no formula costs, fewer medical bills
  • Fewer health insurance claims, and less time off to care for sick children

Kansas Breastfeeding Percentages GraphicHowever, breastfeeding mothers face many challenges and barriers - including hospital practices discouraging them from the start, lack of understanding from family members, no one to turn to for expert guidance, and obstacles when returning to work - that can make it very difficult to initiate and continue exclusive breastfeeding for the recommended six months or more.

Our Approaches
The Health Ministry Fund is dedicated to creating and improving support for breastfeeding in Kansas, through a variety of approaches:

High 5 for Mom & Baby Logo
High 5 for Mom & Baby
encourages hospitals to adopt five practices proven to support breastfeeding success. The program provides hospitals with:

  • On-site training for hospital staff and invited community members on evidence-based maternity care practices and policies
  • Training support for employee advancement toward International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) certification
  • Guidance and technical assistance to help hospitals successfully implement the program's practices and policies
  • Resources for hospitals including sample policies, training and informational videos, patient education materials, and promotional materials for hospital marketing communications
  • Recognition for hospitals implementing all five practices with supportive policies

High 5 for Mom & Baby has now trained 49 hospitals and one birth center in Kansas, with 10 hospitals recognized as High 5 Hospitals. Training support assisting 23 persons in receiving International Board Certified Lactation Consultant certification have been provided through the program as well.

More than 97% of Kansas births now occur in hospitals which have participated in High 5 trainings.

Business Case for Breastfeeding Logo
Business Case for Breastfeeding
(BCBF) helps employers accommodate lactating employees, benefiting both the family and the business. BCBF received the Health Fund's 2014 Janet Sevier Gilbreath Special Project Recognition Award.

This program has become a resource for both employers and employees alike. For example, recent relationships have formed between the BCBF program director, Kansas Department of Labor (KDOL) Secretary Lana Gordon, and Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger. Due to this relationship, a joint letter from Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) and KDOL was sent to new businesses. The letter provided details about the Business Case for Breastfeeding and the importance of addressing breastfeeding support in the workplace, and included information about the federal Break Time for Nursing Mothers law as well as resources to assist businesses in adopting current best practices for breastfeeding support.

The BCBF staff also assisted in the development of a joint letter sent from the Kansas Insurance Commissioner and the Secretary of KDHE to the five private insurance companies in Kansas, encouraging them to adopt a policy that identifies best practices for payers to appropriately meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act and ensure adequate delivery of support for breastfeeding. Examples include:

A university which wanted to establish lactation rooms on campus for employees and students. The university turned to Business Case for Breastfeeding for advice when it learned that restrooms are not appropriate locations.

A child care provider which was throwing away breastmilk right after feeding the baby, based on the advice of a licensing representative. The mother was becoming frustrated because she couldn't pump enough milk and was ready to quit breastfeeding. BCBF consulted with the child care provider and licensing representative to clarify the safety measures needed for breast milk, which are different than those for formula. The practice at that child care center and others changed as a result, and the mother continued to breastfeed successfully.

A county commissioner heard a presentation and changed the policies and practices of a county courthouse.

These are just a few examples of the important role the Business Case for Breastfeeding has played in improving the health of infants and mothers, and in improving the bottom line for businesses, throughout Kansas.

Breastfeeding Summit Logo
The Kansas Health Summit on Breastfeeding was both an educational event to ensure medical providers and other professionals are equipped with the most up-to-date information and a conversation about opportunities to support breastfeeding and its many proven health benefits for infants, mothers, and families. Organized in a partnership with the Kansas Health Foundation, the Summit engaged almost 200 Kansans in strategic planning related to breastfeeding. Kansas Health Foundation and the Health Fund developed a $1 million Kansas Breastfeeding Initiative for 2015 to implement many of the ideas developed through the Summit.

The full Summit Report is available here.