But Proffitt, 35, said she made the decision to breast-feed even before she was pregnant because of the health benefits it would give her baby. That was despite challenges she recognized — having to pump breast milk once she goes back to work as a paralegal in three months, for example, and even learning how her son should properly latch to her breast in the first place.

"There is definitely a learning curve. That's what I'm experiencing now for sure," Proffitt said. "I think it's worth it."

At some hospitals, many of the recommendations the state released are already in place, said Dr. Robert Atlas, chief of obstetrics at Mercy Medical Center. Mercy stopped giving new mothers free samples of formula and coupons for more several years ago, for example. Nevertheless, he welcomed the new policies.

"By the state health department putting this forward, it helps solidify to patients the importance of breast-feeding," Atlas said.

The University of Maryland Medical Center said in a statement that it actively promotes breast-feeding and also has many of the state recommendations already in place. The hospital has a breast-feeding council that looks for ways to promote breast-feeding to new mothers. It offers a pump in the NICU, cooling bags for mothers to transport milk and a phone line for real-time support once moms are discharged.

State health officials made the announcement about the new recommendations at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in Rockville, which has agreed to adopted the 10 state standards. Phillips said at least five others have also agreed to adopt every recommendation.

They were joined by the Maryland Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Maryland Breast-feeding Coalition, both which applauded the plan.

"I know this will have an impact — a real and lasting change — on Maryland's youngest residents," said Dr. Dana Silver, co-chair of the breast-feeding committee of Maryland AAP.



State breast-feeding recommendations

•Maintain a written breast-feeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.

•Train all health care staff in skills necessary to implement this policy.

•Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breast-feeding.

•Help mothers initiate breast-feeding within one hour of birth.

•Show mothers how to breast-feed and how to maintain lactation, even if they are separated from their infants.

•Give newborns no food or drink other than breast milk, unless medically indicated.

•Practice "rooming-in" — allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.

•Encourage unrestricted breast-feeding.

•Give no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breast-feeding infants.

•Foster the establishment of breast-feeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic.

Source: Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

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