State health officials revise breastfeeding recommendations for hospitals

State health officials revise breastfeeding recommendations for hospitals (August 23, 2012)

State health officials have revised recommendations for hospitals after receiving nearly 130 comments on an initital draft on the issue.

In an effort to improve breastfeeding rates The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is working to make hospitals stronger players in promoting the practice.

Studies have found breast milk is the best food for infants. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies receive nothing but breast milk for the first six months of life and that breast milk is supplemented with food until the baby is at least one-year-old.

Many women often start breastfeeding but become discouraged or overwhelmend and stop, particularly those moms who return to work.

About 78.5 percent of babies in Maryland start off breastfed, but  only 45.2 percent are breastfed at six months. Only 13.1 percent are exclusively breastfed.

Here are the updated recommendations. State health officials are asking for public comment on the latest recommendations listed below:

1. Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all hospital staff.

2: Train all hospital staff in the skills necessary to implement this policy.

3: Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.

4: Help breastfeeding mothers initiate breastfeeding within 1 hour of birth.

5: Encourage breastfeeding on demand.

6: Show breastfeeding mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they are separated from their infants.

7: Practice “rooming in” – encourage breastfeeding mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.

8: Give breastfed infants no food or drink, other than breast milk, unless medically    indicated.

9: Give no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants in the hospital, unless            medically indicated.

10: Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer breastfeeding mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic.