Supporting Breastfeeding Mothers:
Update on Hospital Breastfeeding Policy Recommendations
Breast milk is the optimal food for infants. Babies who are fed formula or stop breastfeeding early have higher risks of obesity, diabetes, respiratory and ear infections, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and tend to require more doctor visits and hospitalizations. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies receive nothing but breast milk for the first 6 months of life and continue breastfeeding for at least one year. While breastfeeding initiation is the essential first step, duration and exclusivity are key to obtaining the myriad of benefits to public health and society provided through breastfeeding.
A key to helping new mothers initiate breastfeeding successfully is support in the hospital in the first hours and days after birth. Recognizing this, in November 2012, DHMH encouraged all birthing hospitals in the State to become “Maryland Best Practices Hospitals,” by either attaining Baby Friendly certification through the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative
(BFHI), or by meeting the ten criteria contained in the Maryland Hospital Breastfeeding Policy Recommendations
to become a “Maryland Best Practices Hospital.”
Maryland Best Practices designation is based on meeting the ten criteria contained in the Maryland Hospital Breastfeeding Policy Recommendations. These recommendations are based on the WHO/UNICEF Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, which include evidence-based hospital practices that increase rates of breastfeeding initiation, duration, and exclusivity for healthy, full term infants whose mothers have chosen to breastfeed them. These recommendations are guidelines for birthing hospitals to follow in a voluntary quality improvement process.
So far, the state has received letters of commitment from 12 of Maryland’s 35 birthing hospitals. Those 12 have committed to either becoming Baby-Friendly or meet Maryland’s Best-Practices:
4 hospitals have signed Letters of Commitment to become Baby-Friendly.
Calvert Memorial, Howard County General Hospital, Johns Hopkins Hospital, St. Mary’s Hospital
8 hospitals have signed Letters of Commitment to meet Maryland Best-Practices:
Baltimore Washington Medical Center, Easton (Memorial Hospital at Easton), Greater Baltimore Medical Center, Johns Hopkins Bayview, Montgomery Medical Center, Sinai Hospital, Upper Chesapeake Medical Center, Washington Adventist
DHMH is encouraged by this robust participation so far, and we hope that all birthing hospitals in the state will commit to this important initiative.