Introduction

The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) has long supported breastfeeding. All family physicians, whether or not they provide maternity care, have a unique role in the promotion of breastfeeding. Family physicians understand the advantages of family-centered care and are well positioned to provide breastfeeding support in that context. Because they provide comprehensive care to the whole family, family physicians have an opportunity to provide breastfeeding education and support throughout the life cycle to all members of the family.

Family physicians may provide prenatal care and labor support, deliver the infant, help in the prompt initiation and continuation of breastfeeding, and continue caring for the baby and family. Breastfeeding education and support can be woven throughout these visits. Family physicians have the unique opportunity to emphasize breastfeeding education beginning with preconception visits and continuing throughout prenatal care, delivery, postpartum care, and during ongoing care of the family. Encouragement from a physician and other family members, especially the baby’s father and maternal grandmother, are important factors in the initiation of breastfeeding. In caring for a mother’s immediate and extended family, a family physician should encourage her social support system to support breastfeeding.

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