We want all new mothers, who are able to do so, to breastfeed for as much and as long as they possibly can. Unfortunately, only slightly more than half (58%) of babies breastfeed for 6 months, and about 20% of babies get infant formula supplementation in the first 2 days of life!
The Baby-Friendly Hospital initiative, sponsored by the World Health Organization and UNICEF, provides 10 steps that hospitals can take to improve breastfeeding initiation rates. Some of the most basic steps include providing information to parents about the benefits of breastfeeding, showing mothers how to breastfeed, and not providing supplemental infant formula unless medically indicated. These days, approximately one-quarter of babies are born in Baby-Friendly hospitals.
In 2014, there were no Baby-Friendly hospitals in Mississippi. The state had the lowest breastfeeding rates in the country, and communities of color had lower rates of breastfeeding initiation than white communities.
A multi-disciplinary group began a state-wide quality improvement initiative, entitled Communities and Hospitals Advancing Maternity Practices (CHAMPS), to increase the number of Baby-Friendly hospitals in that state. This week, Pediatrics is early releasing the Quality Report from this group, authored by Laura Burnham from Boston Medical Center and her colleagues at the University of Manitoba, Cooper Medical School, and Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere, Inc. It is entitled, “Mississippi CHAMPS: Decreasing racial inequities in breastfeeding” (10.1542/peds.2020-030502).
This state-wide initiative brought together community partners with health care providers and organizations. Physician and nursing leaders worked with the State Department of Health, Mississippi Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, and Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi.
CHAMPS enrolled 39 of the 43 birth hospitals in the state. By mid-2020, 22 Mississippi hospitals had attained Baby-Friendly designation, with 11 additional hospitals in the final phase of the designation process.
You will need to read the entire paper to get the details about how this team got buy-in from the different hospitals and how they conducted the statewide quality improvement project. You will want to read the entire paper to see how they got to their truly remarkable results. Breastfeeding initiation increased by 10%, and by 21% for Black families!
If your hospital is not yet a Baby-Friendly hospital, talk with your medical, nursing, and lactation colleagues to advocate that this be a priority. Time and time again, becoming Baby-Friendly has been shown to improve breastfeeding initiation rates and this article is no exception.