Published Date: January 31, 2024

In 2023, an estimated 32,000 women in California will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and approximately 4,680 will die from it. For birthing women, both the initiation of breastfeeding and the duration of it can reduce the risk of breast cancer. Therefore, it is important to understand the barriers to a woman’s decision to start breastfeeding and to continuing its practice for as long as desired. Professional lactation services can have a significant and positive impact on both.

In this policy note, authors present the findings from their recent study on the perceived benefits of lactation services, barriers to connecting to services, and recommendations for improving access to lactation consultants.

This is one key finding in a larger study of 33 participants — including mothers of recent newborns, maternal care providers (including physicians, nurses, lactation consultants, and doulas), and community advocates for child and maternal health — in which the authors learned about the barriers to initiating and maintaining breastfeeding in accordance with a mother’s breastfeeding plan. All participants represent or work with Black, Asian American, or Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander (NHPI) communities.

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