Great Momentum Marks National Breastfeeding Month
A Message from Karthi Streb, MPH
Director of Programs
August is National Breastfeeding Month, as declared by the United States Breastfeeding Committee. Coinciding with this occasion, a new report from the CDC shows that breastfeeding rates are increasing across the nation. In other good news, Massachusetts has decided to support breastfeeding statewide by becoming the second state in the nation to ban baby formula giveaways. Eliminating formula handouts is just one of ten steps the World Health Organization recommends hospitals take to enable a mother to follow-through on her decision of how to feed her infant.
These ten steps are the core work of the 90 hospitals getting started this month and next in the Best Fed Beginnings project, thanks to funding from the CDC. We are so excited to keep the national momentum going as we get this project off the ground. NICHQ will begin convening 90 hospital teams in three regionally-based learning sessions to help them make the changes needed to earn the title of "Baby Friendly," a global designation indicating that the hospital employs best maternity care practices to support a new mother’s choice to breastfeed – if that is indeed her choice.
We have full confidence that these 90 hospitals will successfully achieve Baby-Friendly status and pave the way for many others to come. When they do, Best Fed Beginnings will more than double the number of babies born in US hospitals that fully support breastfeeding.
With the great interest and energy nationally focused on improving breastfeeding rates, NICHQ has been approached by multiple states and funders with opportunities to expand this work by mirroring the Best Fed Beginnings project to achieve similar goals. We continue to work with passionate people and funders from around the country to bring these opportunities to fruition.
Breastfeeding is widely recognized as the healthiest choice for both baby and mother. Breastfeeding provides many well-documented health benefits for the child and the mother. This is particularly important in disadvantaged communities, where breastfeeding rates are lower and the marginal health benefits greater.
How to feed her infant is a woman’s decision. As National Breastfeeding Month comes to a close, we are taking this opportunity to reflect on what NICHQ is doing to make breastfeeding the easy choice: supporting efforts around breastfeeding awareness, and working with hospitals, public health agencies, and communities to transform the system of care. We are pleased to do our part to keep the national momentum going.