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It isn’t often that you find Planned Parenthood registered in support of a Republican-sponsored bill, but Senate File 251 has received support from the ACLU, Planned Parenthood and Common Good Iowa despite being filed by Republican State Sen. Jim Carlin and four other GOP colleagues.

The bill would require the Department of Public Health to convene stakeholders from various sectors to develop an actionable breastfeeding quality improvement strategic plan to determine the framework necessary to maximize breastfeeding support and improve the breastfeeding rate among all mothers in Iowa.

There was also discussion about a breastmilk donor bank.

Carlin said his daughter had three babies and had “very little if any” emphasis put on the importance of breastfeeding. Considering the benefits of breastfeeding, Carlin said he believes this bill would go a long way in helping Iowa moms and babies.

Democrat State Sen. Amanda Ragan agreed.

“I think this is a great bill,” she said. “I’m assuming the Department of Public Health is already doing some things, but I think anything to promote it is really good for the moms and for the child.”

Maddie Wilcox of the Department of Public Health said after the bill was filed last year the department went ahead and started to implement a breastfeeding state plan process, which is expected to conclude in September.

“There’s nothing in this bill that would change what we’re doing from our understanding,” Wilcox said.

MaryNelle Trefz of Common Good Iowa said she appreciates the thoughtful approach in tackling the topic and suggested an amendment to examine some of the external barriers that women face in successfully breastfeeding.

Maternal mental health can have an impact on breastfeeding, and when a mom is unable to produce as well as she thinks she should, it increases the risk for postpartum depression, which leads to a decrease in milk supply.

Another area of concern is for moms returning to work. Trefz said Iowa has one of the highest rates in the country when it comes to moms in the workforce and only about 30 percent of mothers know their workplace has a designated place to nurse or express milk.

Carlin asked what safety risks are involved with the idea of a breast milk bank.

Chaney Yeast of Blank Children’s Hospital said it’s a great idea to explore. At Blank Children’s Hospital, there is donor milk used in the NICU quite often.

“Our physicians believe it’s a really good thing and wish we had the ability to access more donor milk even in that setting,” Yeast said.

Nicole Newman with WIC said there is an extensive process to ensure the safety of milk at Mother’s Milk Bank of Iowa.

Republican State Sen. Craig Johnson joined Carlin and Ragan in supporting the bill through subcommittee.

Author: Jacob Hall