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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that breastfeeding is one of the most effective preventive measure a mother can take to protect the health of her infant. This reason helps drive the Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity (DNPA) to improve breastfeeding rates throughout the state of Indiana. The DNPA supports and works with many different organizations and coalitions throughout the state to help support breastfeeding mothers and improve breastfeeding environments. The DNPA’s current main focus comes through a partnership with the CDC and its State Public Health Actions to Prevent and Control Diabetes, Heart Disease, Obesity and Associated Risk Factors and Promote School Health cooperative agreement. Through this agreement, the DNPA is working to increase the number of Indiana hospitals that are designated as baby-friendly.
Hospital practices can make a big difference in whether a baby is breastfed at all. The Baby-Friendly Hospital Imitative is a global standard for hospital care to support not only breastfeeding, but what is also best for mother and baby. At the core of the baby-friendly process are the 10 steps to successful breastfeeding. The percentage of hospitals in the U.S. that are implementing the majority of the 10 steps increased from 29% in 2007 to 54% in 2013. However, out of the 3,300 birthing hospitals in the U.S., only 289 are designated as baby-friendly. Indiana currently has nine facilities designated as baby-friendly, six of which have gained designation since 2010.
The DNPA is working to increase the number of hospitals designated as baby-friendly in Indiana though the Indiana Baby-Friendly Learning Collaborative (LINC). The DNPA has partnered with Indiana Perinatal Network (IPN) to design and administer LINC to be a support for a select group of hospitals that are working to achieve baby-friendly designation. LINC works to help hospitals achieve baby-friendly designation by creating opportunities to develop high performance work teams, build leadership skills among staff, promote employee pride, enhance patient satisfaction and improve health outcomes. Seven hospitals from all around the state participate in LINC, and they all work together to support one another, share in their successes, provide insight on how to overcome barriers, and share resources. LINC was started in 2013, and a second phase was started in 2015. All of the hospitals have worked hard to provide the best maternity care to their mothers and babies.
Hospital routines can help or hinder new mothers and babies while they’re learning to breastfeed. CDC’s national survey of Maternity Practices in Infant Nutrition and Care (mPINC) is administered every two years to monitor and examine changes in practices over time at all hospitals and birth centers with registered maternity beds in the United States and Territories. Check out Indiana’s latest mPINC score and how they compare to the rest of the country here.
The 2011 Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding outlines steps that can be taken to remove some of the obstacles faced by women who want to breastfeed their babies. The Call to Action calls upon a society-wide approach to support mothers and babies who are breastfeeding. A 2009 American Academy of Pediatrics cost analysis found that if 90% of women breastfed exclusively for 6 months, the United States would save $13 billion and prevent nearly 1,000 infant deaths per year.
Today, over 75% of women in the United States begin breastfeeding, but the most frequent time for a woman to stop breastfeeding is when she returns to work. Women with children are the fastest-growing segment of the work force, and balancing work and family is an important priority for them. It is important for returning mothers to be in a work environment that provides adequate space and time for them to express their milk during the work day. This allows a woman to continue to give her best efforts at work and for her baby. National resources for supporting breastfeeding moms at work can be found on the Office of Women’s Health website. For more local resources, please visit the ISDH Office of Women’s Health’s website.
Federal law requires that employers provide two basic types of accommodations for breastfeeding employees: time and space for breastfeeding or pumping breast milk. Information about the laws can be found on the United States Breastfeeding Committee website.
For more information on where you can find breastfeeding support in your area or around the state, please visit the following websites.