By the Ohio Lactation Consultation Association
During the Ohio Lactation Consultant Association’s (OLCA) Annual Conference in March, the Birth Center at Robinson was presented with the Maternity Care Best Practice Award for making the Center “bag free.”
Through an initiative started by Brea Loewit, RN, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, the Birth Center at Robinson was officially bag free in 2012. “The nurses in the Birth Center at Robinson wanted our breastfeeding moms to be successful,” stated Loewit. “Sending them home with a bag of formula was undermining their confidence and ability to provide breastmilk for their baby.”
In 2011, the Surgeon General made a “Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding,” as breastfeeding can protect the health of mothers and infants. Leading health organizations, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Family Physicians, and American Public Health Association among others, agree that most babies should have only breast milk for the first six months of life and should be breastfed for at least 12 months.
As hospitals play a vital role in helping mothers and babies successfully establish breastfeeding, it was important that the message provided to mothers during their stay at Robinson Memorial Hospital was the same message given upon discharge; encouraging breastfeeding.
The fact was, the “bag of goodies” contained formula samples and gave new moms mixed messages.
According to the CDC, although most mothers hope to breastfeed, and 75 percent of babies start out being breastfed in the United States, only 15 percent are exclusively breastfed six months later.
“Breastfeeding mothers may face challenges in the early days or weeks. This is the time they need the most support and encouragement to keep going,” stated Loewit. “By offering help, support and education during their hospital stay and after discharge, we can help mothers achieve their breastfeeding goals.”
According to the “Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding” from the surgeon general, breastfeeding protects babies from infections and illnesses that include diarrhea, ear infections, and pneumonia. Breastfed babies are also less likely to develop asthma, and those who are breastfed for six months are less likely to become obese. Mothers themselves who breastfeed, have a decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancers.
A study published in 2010 in the journal Pediatrics estimated that the nation would save $13 billion per year in healthcare and other costs if 90 percent of U.S. babies were exclusively breastfed for six months.
“When mothers breastfeed, the health of the child is improved, and so is the health of our community. Breastfeeding is healthy, it is normal, and you don’t need formula to feed your baby if you breastfeed.” stated Loewit.