Breastfeeding Information for Hospitals

The Department is currently encouraging statewide adoption of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, a global program developed to encourage and recognize hospitals that offer an optimal level of care for breastfeeding. To attain Baby-Friendly Status, hospitals and birthing centers have to fulfill 10 steps known to foster and promote breastfeeding.  In Rhode Island, Newport, South County, and Westerly Hospitals are currently baby-friendly.  Even if a hospital is unable to fulfill all 10 steps to become Baby-Friendly, meeting even some of the steps can play an important role in promoting breastfeeding. 

What you should do

  1. Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.
  2. Train all health care staff in skills necessary to implement this policy.
  3. Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
  4. Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
  5. Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they are separated from their infants.
  6. Give newborn infants no food or drink other than breastmilk, unless medically indicated.
  7. Practice “rooming in”-- allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.
  8. Encourage breastfeeding on demand.
  9. Give no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants.
  10. Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic

Formula Marketing Bags

To promote breastfeeding, hospitals should discontinue distributing discharge bags provided by formula companies to new mothers. Multiple studies show an association between the distribution of these commercial discharge bags and decreased breastfeeding rates (more).  The Department commends Kent, Newport, South County, Westerly, and Women & Infants Hospitals for taking this important step (as of April 2010).

mPINC Survey

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also recognized the important role a hospital plays in supporting breastfeeding. In 2007, the CDC, in collaboration with the Battelle Center for Public Health Research and Evaluation, conducted the first national Maternity Practices in Infant Nutrition and Care (mPINC) Survey, an assessment conducted to identify maternity practices supportive of breastfeeding. This study shows that maternity practices in U.S. hospitals and birth centers must be changed to improve breastfeeding. (more)