Hospital support for breastfeeding has improved since 2007, according to the latest U.S. CDC Vital Signs report released early October. The percentage of U.S. hospitals using a majority of the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, the global standard for hospital care to support breastfeeding, increased from approximately 29 percent in 2007 to 54 percent in 2013, a nearly two-fold increase over six years. Hospitals in Maine that have implemented the majority of the Ten Steps increased from 72 percent in 2007 to 83 percent in 2013.
Improved hospital care could increase rates of breastfeeding both in Maine and nationally, contributing to healthier children. According to U.S. CDC’s 2014 Breastfeeding Report Card, approximately 28 percent of babies in Maine were born in baby-friendly hospitals, a rate topped only by New Hampshire and Connecticut. The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) was established by the World Health Organization and UNICEF and endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The core of the BFHI is the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, which include:
- Educating all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
- Helping mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
- Keeping mothers and babies together throughout the entire hospital stay.
- Providing mothers with information about breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to these groups upon discharge from the hospital.
Maine has implemented “6 for ME,” a health care and quality improvement initiative focused on providing assistance and support to health care professionals, focusing on six of the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding. Maine CDC, Let's Go!, MaineHealth and the Maine State Breastfeeding Coalition all link resources to offer technical assistance and educational opportunities to health care professionals caring for mothers and babies.
For more information about U.S. CDC’s work to improve hospital practices to support breastfeeding, visit www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding or Maine’s 6 for ME: Maine takes 6 steps to improve breastfeeding.