Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report pointing to low rates of breastfeeding in the United States and the importance of having hospitals play a positive role in encouraging and supporting the practice. Data in the report comes from a national survey of maternity care practices and policies.
The researchers found that about 90% of hospitals report providing prenatal breastfeeding education teaching breastfeeding techniques, but fewer than half follow the other recommendations in the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, the list of required policies and actions for being a Baby-Friendly hospital or birth center. Only about 3.5% of hospitals have implemented at least 9 of the 10 practices, which are thought to increase breastfeeding rates by supporting mothers.
Among the least-followed of the ten steps were having a model breastfeeding policy (14.4% did so); limiting use of formula, water, or glucose supplements for healthy, full-term breastfed infants (21.5%); and providing adequate breastfeeding support to breastfeeding mothers at hospital discharge (26.8%).
For more information, see the CDC’s press release, Vital Signs report, more detail on the survey results in the MMWR publication, and advice for what state and local governments, hospitals, doctors and nurses, and mothers and their families can do to encourage hospital support of breastfeeding.