BALTIMORE, MD (February 1, 2012) - The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) today released for public comment a draft Model Hospital Breastfeeding Policy. The purpose of a hospital breastfeeding policy is to assure that practices are in place in every birthing hospital to teach new mothers about the benefits of breastfeeding and provide support to help them successfully begin breastfeeding.
Breast milk is the optimal food for infants. Good early infant feeding practices can positively affect growth and development in children and reduce risk for infections and chronic diseases such as diabetes, asthma, and obesity. However, mothers who want to breastfeed may have a hard time doing so without timely support in the early days and weeks after birth. To be sure best practices are in place, every hospital should have a breastfeeding policy to guide the successful initiation of breastfeeding by new mothers and babies. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) surveys and rates hospitals on a standard set of best practices known to enhance breastfeeding success. The Maternity Practices in Infant Nutrition Care (mPINC) 2009 Survey is available at http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/pdf/mPINC/states/mPINC_2009_Maryland.pdf
"The health of mothers and infants in Maryland can be improved by choosing breastfeeding," said Frances Phillips, Maryland's Deputy Secretary for Public Health. "We encourage hospitals to support every mother and infant in getting off to a good start with breastfeeding."
In December 2011, DHMH convened a workgroup of hospital representatives and other stakeholders to review current hospital policies and develop a draft Model Breastfeeding Policy. Following this public comment period, DHMH will release the final Model Hospital Breastfeeding Policy. DHMH will survey hospitals later in 2012 regarding their adoption of the Model Hospital Breastfeeding policy.
The draft Model Policy and public comment survey can be found at http://fha.dhmh.maryland.gov/mch/sitepages/hospital-bf-policy.aspx. All comments should be submitted by 5 p.m. EST February 29, 2012.