Maryland's 32 birthing hospitals have all agreed to adopt new state breast-feeding policies and become certified as "baby-friendly."
The state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene embarked on a campaign nine months ago to get hospitals more involved in helping moms breast-feed, particularly in the crucial hours right after birth.
The breast-feeding recommendations are the first the state has ever issued and came as medical groups and government health agencies, including the U.S. surgeon general, have placed more focus on breast-feeding.
Studies have found that breast-fed babies have lower incidents of ear infections, allergies and other health problems, but many mothers find the practice more difficult than they anticipated. Nurses and lactation specialists can help ease the process while mothers are still in the hospital and provide support groups after they return home, state health officials hope.
Nine hospitals have expressed their intent to be certified as 'Baby-Friendly':
· Calvert Memorial Hospital
· Howard County General Hospital
· Johns Hopkins Hospital
· Medstar Franklin Square Medical Center
· Medstar Harbor Hospital
· Medstar St. Mary’s Hospital
· Meritus Medical Center
· Shady Grove Adventist Hospital
· Upper Chesapeake Medical Center
These 23 hospitals have signed letters of commitment to follow the Maryland's Hospital Breastfeeding Policy Recommendations:
· Anne Arundel Medical Center
· Carroll Hospital Center
· Memorial Hospital at Easton
· Frederick Memorial Hospital
· Garrett County Memorial Hospital