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Socioeconomic Barriers To Breast-Feeding

December 8, 2016 1:07 p.m.

Socioeconomic Barriers To Breast-Feeding


Robin Kaplan, president, San Diego Breastfeeding Center Foundation

Related Story: A New Mother's Dilemma: For Some, Help With Breastfeeding Isn't Always There


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

Joining us for more on the disparities between breast-feeding rates between rich and poor women is Robin Kaplan, president, San Diego Breastfeeding Center Foundation . Robin, welcome to the program. You run a business that provides lactation consultation services but you also started a nonprofit what was the reason for starting a nonprofit.
So I've had my business for about seven years now, which is the Sunday goat breast-feeding center. What I've noticed over the past years is that many women have been calling. We get about 60 to 100 women a month and what I was finding is that about 10 to 15 a month would call and they would not see consultation that they needed because they could not afford it. They heard that the affordable care act was supposed to cover these types of consultation so that meant that their OB/GYN and pediatricians were all telling them that they could get these consultations but unfortunately when they called, they found that their insurance or their benefits would it be covered and they were not able to get the support that they needed because of financial barriers. So that was one of the reasons that after a couple of years my heart was going out to them. I could not imagine that they were all being able to meet their personal breast-feeding goals because of financial restraints. So this year in March, we started the San Diego breast-feeding Center foundation and what it does is it subsidizes the consultations for low income women so that way they can receive the support that they need, but if it's well within their price range to be able to get that support.
Robin, tell us the things that lactation consultants do.
There are lots of free groups out there and what they work on is the more general. So latching, positioning and basic questions. A consultant they look at the more medical side of it. So we are dealing with mothers with low milk supply and babies who have some suck dysfunction or babies who have tethered oral tissue and their tongues are not able to remove milk from the mother's breast. So these women while they do benefit from the free support and the mother to mother support that we are getting from these groups and they need someone to take a look at their personal situation and craft a personalized plan of care for them as well as followed them along until we are able to figure out what is going on. So that is the difference between -- and what we provide as lactation consultants.
Besides what you just talked about do the mothers you consult with talk about sort of external problems they encounter with breast-feeding like perhaps lack of sleep?
Sure. Although honestly any parent that has a new baby whether they are breast-feeding or bottlefeeding are going to have a lack of sleep. The women that we work with especially are low income women they do have additional barriers. Sometimes it depends on they have to return to work more quickly because they cannot live on their unpaid maternity leave. There are additional challenges with returning to work especially if bosses are not supportive. Those are some things that Dasha depends on family support, community support, how much education they have. Those can also be barriers when trying to meet breast-feeding goals.
What advice to get to try to lessen those pressures that those women are feeling?
Well, I think if anything getting breast-feeding off to the best start possible and getting all of the wonderful support that they can get from consultants in the hospital and then following up with these free breast-feeding support groups and also with following up with us if it is something where they really do need a personalized plan of care to really overcome their breast-feeding challenges because transitioning back to work and dealing with family members who may not be super supportive or employers is a lot easier to deal with when breast-feeding is going easily so it's much easier to keep up and there's a lot less stress around it and so really getting the most assistance and the most support possible in that first month or so can really change the trajectory of how long a woman will breast-feed for.
There are women who say they kind of feel bullied about breast-feeding. Some studies indicate the benefits of breast-feeding might be overrated. I'm wondering to work with your clients no matter what their income to discover actually what's right for them and their babies?
Our main motto at the center is that we provide nonjudgmental breast-feeding support. So from others who come in and they want to exclusively breast-feed, we are here to help. For mothers that come in and they want to combo feed, we are here from them. For moms who want to just exclusively pump and not put baby to breast, we are here for them. There is enough judgment that we get as moms and to add breast-feeding into the makes -- makes there so much judgment and mommy wards test wars going on. Asked the mom what their goal is and help her meet that personal goal. We are not trying to make her do what we think or what society thinks, it is what she want to do and then help her reach that.
I've been speaking with Robin Kaplan, president, San Diego Breastfeeding Center Foundation . Robin, thank you.
Think you so much for having me. -- Thank you so much for having me.