ROCKVILLE, MD (November 13, 2012) – At Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) today released the 2012 Maryland Hospital Breastfeeding Policy Recommendations. The recommendations lay out evidence-based practices to help hospitals eliminate hidden barriers and support new mothers who choose to breastfeed.
The recommendations were developed over more than nine months through a review of evidence-based practices and public input. More than 150 public comments were received and considered before the recommendations were finalized.
“Our goal is for mothers who choose to breastfeed to be successful,” said Frances Phillips, R.N., DHMH Deputy Secretary of Public Health Services. “We are pleased to see significant interest by Maryland hospitals, including Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, to support babies and mothers in breastfeeding.”
Breast milk is the optimal food for infants, and babies who are breastfed have fewer respiratory and gastrointestinal infections. The American Academy of Pediatrics has also found evidence that breastfeeding is associated with reduced rates of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, allergic disease, obesity, and other conditions. The Academy recommends that babies receive breast milk exclusively for the first 6 months of life, and continue breastfeeding for the first year or longer.
Early experience in the hospital can greatly influence a mother’s success at breastfeeding. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has developed the National Survey of Maternity Practices in Infant Nutrition and Care (mPINC) to assess “birth facility policies and practices that create a supportive environment for breastfeeding.” According to the 2011 Breastfeeding Report Card, Maryland’s average mPINC score was 68, ranking the state 15th in the country.
To improve support for mothers who choose to breastfeed, the 2012 Maryland Hospital Breastfeeding Policy Recommendations call for hospitals to:
Maintain a written breastfeeding 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 breastfeeding.
Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they are separated from their infants.
Give newborn infants 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 breastfeeding.
Give no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants.
Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic.
Hospitals can also meet the recommendations by obtaining Baby-Friendly certification through the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative.
State officials salute the work done by the clinical team at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital to provide a supportive and educational environment around breastfeeding. Shady Grove not only is implementing all ten criteria in the recommendations but also is the first Maryland hospital poised to attain Baby-Friendly certification through the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (www.babyfriendlyusa.org).
“Shady Grove Adventist Hospital is pleased to be recognized as helping to lead the way in Maryland by employing all ten of the state’s recommendations as we pursue Baby-Friendly status,” said Dennis Hansen, President of Shady Grove Adventist Hospital. “This is a reflection of the commitment of our Birth Center’s team to advancing the health of our community.”