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Maryland hospitals commit to better support for breastfeeding mothers

8/20/2013, 6 a.m.
Thirty two Maryland hospitals have committed to adopt breastfeeding friendly policies.
Studies have shown that breastfeeding is one of the most effective preventive health measures for both infants and mothers. Centers for Disease Control

— Less than nine months after the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) launched a statewide initiative to improve the support that hospitals give to breastfeeding mothers, all 32 birthing hospitals in Maryland have committed to adopt Maryland's Hospital Breastfeeding Policy Recommendations or become certified as 'Baby-Friendly.' Studies have shown that breastfeeding is one of the most effective preventive health measures for both infants and mothers.

"Breast milk is the optimal food for infants," said Dr. Laura Herrera,, DHMH Deputy Secretary for Public Health Services. "Providing breastfeeding support to moms who choose to breastfeed after delivery is the first step in promoting the long-term health benefits of nursing."

Hospitals were encouraged to sign a letter of intent to become certified as 'Baby-Friendly' through the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, or to follow the Maryland Hospital Breastfeeding Policy Recommendations as outlined by DHMH. Both avenues to improvement are based on the WHO/UNICEF Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding and include evidence-based hospital ractices that increase rates of breastfeeding initiation, duration, and exclusivity for healthy full-term infants whose mothers have chosen to breastfeed.

Nine hospitals have expressed their intent to be certified as 'Baby-Friendly':

· Calvert Memorial Hospital

· Howard County General Hospital

· Johns Hopkins Hospital

· Medstar Franklin Square Medical Center

· Medstar Harbor Hospital

· Medstar St. Mary’s Hospital

· Meritus Medical Center

· Shady Grove Adventist Hospital

· Upper Chesapeake Medical Center

The following 23 hospitals have signed letters of commitment to follow the Maryland's Hospital Breastfeeding Policy Recommendations:

· Anne Arundel Medical Center

· Carroll Hospital Center

· Memorial Hospital at Easton

· Frederick Memorial Hospital

· Garrett County Memorial Hospital

· Greater Baltimore Medical Center

· Holy Cross Hospital

· Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center

· Laurel Regional Hospital

· Medstar Montgomery Medical Center

· Medstar Southern Maryland Hospital Center

· Mercy Medical Center

· Peninsula Regional Medical Center

· Prince George’s Hospital Center

· Sinai Hospital

· St. Agnes Hospital

· Union Hospital of Cecil County

· University of Maryland Medical Center

· University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Medical Center

· University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center (formerly Civista)

· University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center

· Washington Adventist

· Western Maryland Health System

A summary of commitments from the 32 birthing hospitals are available on the DHMH website . Once these hospitals have fulfilled their stated intentions, they will receive the DHMH designation as a “Maryland Best Practice Hospital."

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies receive nothing but breast milk for the first 6 months of life, and continue breastfeeding for the first year or longer. Babies who are breastfed have fewer respiratory and ear infections, and a lower risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Breastfeeding also decreases their risk of becoming obese later in childhood. Moms who breastfeed have a decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancers.

Support for breastfeeding from healthcare systems, family and social networks, workplaces and employers, government and legislation provides a vital foundation for mothers to successfully breastfeed their babies and continue to do so to meet health care recommendations and personal goals.