BALTIMORE, MD (August 23, 2012) – August is Breastfeeding Month and, in addition to a signed proclamation from Governor Martin O’Malley, the State of Maryland is marking the month by releasing for public comment policy recommendations for birthing hospitals related to breastfeeding education, promotion and support.
“Hospitals play a critical role in supporting mothers who choose to breastfeed,” said Frances Phillips, Deputy Secretary for Public Health. “These draft recommendations set out best practices to increase breastfeeding rates across the state.”
The proposed recommendations encourage hospitals to either (1) attain “Baby-Friendly” status through the World Health Organization-adopted Baby Friendly program or (2) meet 10 key evidence-based practices.
The proposed recommendations include:
#1: Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all hospital staff.
#2: Train all hospital staff in the skills necessary to implement this policy.
#3: Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
#4: Help breastfeeding mothers initiate breastfeeding within 1 hour of birth.
#5: Encourage breastfeeding on demand.
#6: Show breastfeeding mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they are separated from their infants.
#7: Practice “rooming in” – encourage breastfeeding mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.
#8: Give breastfed infants no food or drink, other than breast milk, unless medically indicated.
#9: Give no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants in the hospital, unless medically indicated.
#10: Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer breastfeeding mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic.
In Maryland, DHMH is aware of several hospitals that are currently pursuing Baby-Friendly status including Shady Grove Adventist Hospital and MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center. Other hospitals have shared with the Department their interest in following evidence-based best practices for breastfeeding.
During the month of August, DHMH is seeking public comment on the 2012 Maryland Hospital Breastfeeding Policy Recommendations. The policy is in the final draft stage, meaning that the Department will consider public comments before a final policy is published in September.