November 15, 2012 — The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene on Tuesday issued recommendations for hospitals in the state to make it easier for women to choose to breastfeed their infants by providing education, incentives and support, the Baltimore Sun reports. The health department is also urging hospitals to stop the practice of providing free formula to new mothers.
About 72.6% of women who give birth in the state initiate breastfeeding, while 48.5% are breastfeeding after six months and only 22% are still doing so at one year, according to CDC.
The health department's recommendations include telling all pregnant women the benefits of breastfeeding, teaching them how to breastfeed, helping women initiate breastfeeding within an hour of giving birth, encouraging unrestricted breastfeeding and supporting the establishment of a breastfeeding support group.
Hospitals also are asked to keep a written policy on breastfeeding, train all staff in implementing the policy, not provide newborns with anything to eat other than breast milk unless medically necessary, practice "rooming in" to allow women to stay with their newborns around the clock, and offer no pacifiers or artificial nipples to newborns.
Officials are requesting that every hospital voluntarily adopt the practices or attain "baby-friendly" status through the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children's Fund.
No Maryland hospitals currently follow all of the health department's recommendations. So far, at least six hospitals have agreed to implement the recommendations, which are supported by the Maryland chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Maryland Breast-Feeding Coalition (Walker/Dance, Baltimore Sun, 11/13).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
Marya Torrez, associate editor & senior reproductive health policy counsel, National Partnership
Melissa Safford, associate editor & policy advocate for reproductive health, National Partnership
Perry Sacks, assistant editor & health program associate, National Partnership
Cindy Romero, assistant editor & communications assistant, National Partnership
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Amanda Wolfe, editor-in-chief
Heather Drost, Hanna Jaquith, Marcelle Maginnis, Ashley Marchand and Michelle Stuckey, staff writers
Tucker Ball, director of new media, National Partnership