Sunday, June 15, 2008

Hospitals/Birth Centers Do Not Have Practices That Promote Breastfeeding

Breastmilk is the perfect food for babies - it is especially designed. It is associated with decreased risk for infant and maternal morbidity and mortality. The US still ranks in the low 20's amongst industrialized countries for infant and maternal morbidity and mortality. That means 27 other countries do things better.

Maternity practices in hospitals and birth centers throughout the intrapartum period, such as ensuring mother-newborn skin-to-skin contact, keeping mother and newborn together, and not giving supplemental feedings to breastfed newborns unless medically indicated, can influence breastfeeding behaviors during a period critical to successful establishment of lactation. Many facilities tout that they "have implemented" practices or are planning to implement such practices...what is so hard?

One hospital administrator told me that it was hard for nurses to change. WHY? If there is evidence to show that certain practices are better for mothers and their babies, it seems to me that a nurse has no business standing in the way of health and well being!

It is 18 months before 2010 and currently only four states (Alaska, Montana, Oregon and Washington) have met all five of the Healthy People 2010 targets for breastfeeding. In a study of 2,687 facilities, 70% of facilities report providing discharge packs containing infant formula samples to breastfeeding mothers. 24% reported giving routine supplements of formula to healthy full-term infants. 30% reported giving glucose water and 15% reported giving water to infants.

If hospitals are good places to have babies, then why do their practices NOT support this assumption? And why are they so slow in making changes?
And why are not more of us more vocal about these facts?

For more information on this study and the statistics, click here.

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