Baby Friendly Hospitals Increase Breastfeeding, Help Reduce Mother and Baby Health Risks
- Too many hospitals lack the policies and skills to promote breastfeeding
- Abt recruited 99 hospitals to receive breastfeeding technical assistance (TA) and training
- Hospitals reported a 26.79 percent increase in breastfed infants with no pacifier use
The best way for newborns to start life is to feed on their mothers’ breast milk. It nourishes infants like nothing else. And breastfeeding forges a critical bond between mom and child. But too many hospitals lack the policies and skills to promote breastfeeding. Formula makers encourage hospitals to feed formula to healthy, breastfed infants who don’t need it. Hospitals don’t keep mothers and babies together to facilitate breastfeeding. The results are predictable and avoidable: increased risks for infants and their mothers for such diseases as asthma and diabetes.
Working for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Abt recruited 99 hospitals to receive breastfeeding technical assistance (TA) and training. The goal is to help 60 hospitals attain the Baby-Friendly designation within three years. This requires adoption of a 10-step approach to helping mothers start and continue breastfeeding. The team uses regional collaborative meetings, quarterly webinars, monthly cohort calls, site visits, and TA via telephone and email. The team tackles geographic, socio-economic, and race/ethnic disparities in breastfeeding rates by ensuring equitable access to maternity care that supports breastfeeding. We provide project management, hospital recruitment, training coordination, and monitoring and evaluation of the TA and training so that we can replicate successes and fix problems.
Hospitals get no direct funds to participate and incur heavy costs to become Baby Friendly. Yet we have retained 98 percent of the hospitals we picked in April 2015. That’s partly due to the tailored TA and training each hospital receives. A dozen hospitals received the Baby-Friendly designation as of October 2017, and 77 were in the final phase before designation. Hospitals reported:
- A 26.79 percent jump in breastfed infants with no pacifier use
- An 18.49 percent increase in skin-to-skin contact after a C-section
- A 16.46 increase in moms taught hand expression