New mothers should now have the breastfeeding help they need in Maryland hospitals.
Less than nine months after the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene 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 practices that increase rates of breastfeeding initiation, duration, and exclusivity for healthy full-term infants whose mothers have chosen to breastfeed.