Breastfeeding for New Mothers Advocated in NCCHC Position Statement

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Posted Nov 20, 2017

Breastfeeding has well-established physical and psychological benefits for newborns and mothers, and enhances long-term bonding. A woman’s breast milk supply relies heavily on being able to continue to produce milk, either through direct feeding or expressing milk. Accordingly, the National Commission on Correctional Health Care has issued a position statement that recommends making accommodations for nursing women in custody, including at short-stay facilities, that will enable them to maintain their breast milk supply.

The statement, titled Breastfeeding in Correctional Settings, advocates that, wherever possible and not precluded by security concerns, correctional facilities that house pregnant and postpartum women should devise systems to enable postpartum women to express breast milk for their babies and to breastfeed them directly.

The following practices are ways to support this objective:

1. Screen women on entry to determine if they are postpartum and breastfeeding.

2. Counsel pregnant women on the benefits and nutritional needs of breastfeeding and inform them of the systems and supports in place at the facility.

3. Provide breastfeeding women a special diet with appropriate caloric, fluid, and calcium intake, and a prenatal vitamin and vitamin D supplementation.

4. Allow immediately postpartum women to breastfeed their babies and have lactation support services from the hospital.

5. Support visiting arrangements that allow direct contact between infants and mothers.

6. Provide accommodations to express breast milk, since regular breastfeeding on infant demand is rarely feasible for women in custody. Accommodations may include providing a manual or electric breast pump and storage bags, a private place to pump on a frequent basis, a freezer, and a system for proper storage of the breast milk and, when possible, transfer to the infant.

7. Establish nursery programs or alternative programs for postpartum women that will allow the infants to stay with their mothers, making breastfeeding much easier.

8. Develop an arrangement for lactation specialist services to provide support to women who need it.

The NCCHC board of directors adopted the position statement at its November 2017 board meeting. NCCHC develops position statements to express its expert opinion on matters of concern and to assist correctional facilities in designing policies and procedures. The policy and standards committee reviews these statements at least every five years.

See the entire position statement, Breastfeeding in Correctional Settings »

About the National Commission on Correctional Health Care

NCCHC is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization working to improve the quality of care in our nation’s jails, prisons, and juvenile detention and confinement facilities. NCCHC establishes standards for health services in correctional facilities, operates a voluntary accreditation program for institutions that meet these standards, produces and disseminates resource publications, conducts educational trainings and conferences, and offers a certification program for correctional health professionals. NCCHC is supported by the major national organizations representing the fields of health, law and corrections. Each of these organizations has named a liaison to the NCCHC board of directors.