The latest breastfeeding news: the good and the bad

National Infant Mortality Awareness Month

Hospitals nationwide are giving out less free formula to new moms, but many still aren’t providing moms the support they need to successfully breastfeed — which is proven to decrease infant mortality and prevent childhood obesity and other illnesses.

A recent study, published in the journal Pediatrics, found that more hospitals are choosing not to send new moms home with formula samples — the number has more than doubled in the last four years.

According to the study, four years ago 86 percent of hospitals were giving new mothers free baby formula samples. In 2010, that figure was down to 72 percent.

Only a 115 hospitals and birthing facilities in the United States — about 5 percent of all facilities — are designated Baby Friendly.

The World Health Organization and UNICEF outlined Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding for Hospitals. Delivering facilities, once they implement the 10 steps, can apply for and receive a Baby Friendly Hospital designation, which is the gold standard for breastfeeding support in birthing facilities.

There are only two Baby Friendly Hospitals in Florida, neither in Northeast Florida. NAS Jax Hospital is moving closer to the designation though.

The CDC released a report in August — National Breastfeeding Month — that found hospitals need to do a better job of supporting moms for breastfeeding to be successful. They identify hospitals as a critical partner in helping mothers start and continue breastfeeding.

The Joint Commission, an independent, not-for-profit organization that accredits and certifies more than 19,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States, recently launched a campaign called “Speak Up,”  to help encourage moms to breastfeed. The campaign encourages moms to speak up and ask questions about breastfeeding before their baby is born and while they are in the hospital. Posters and brochures from the campaign are available here.