Breastfeeding not only encourages a special bonding experience between a mother and her baby after pregnancy, but also is cost-effective and provides health benefits for both mom and infant, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). To recognize this long-exercised technique, the National Initiative for Children's Healthcare Quality (NICHQ) is leading a national effort called Best Fed Beginnings.
Fewer Mothers are Breastfeeding
The effort encourages hospitals to promote breastfeeding and de-emphasize formula feeding trends. Currently, half of infants born in the U.S. are given formula within their first week of life. In addition, only 31 percent of babies breastfeed after 9 months.
The NICHQ recently selected Women and Infants Hospital of Rhode Island to participate in the initiative. The medical facility was the only one in New England to be chosen. The state itself is ranked 35th in the country in term of breastfeeding initiation.
"Women and Infants Hospital is very proud to have been chosen to participate in this important effort and to have the opportunity to improve our maternity care services to better support breastfeeding," said Angelleen Peters-Lewis, Ph.D., senior vice president of Patient Care Services.
She explained that the hospital experience can significantly influence a mom's decision to breastfeed.
Breast Milk Provides Natural Immunity
According to the HHS, breast milk is not only easier for an infant to digest, but also provides the cells, hormones and the antibodies needed to fight illness. In addition, breastfeeding may protect moms against the risk of type 2 diabetes, postpartum depression, and breast and ovarian cancers.
Women and Infants Hospital is just one of 90 medical facilities selected from over 200 applications to participate in Best Fed Beginnings. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Baby-Friendly USA are collaborating on the initiative in order to increase breastfeeding rates throughout the country. The president and CEO of NICHQ, Charlie Homer, M.D., noted that the volume of applications proves that many hospitals want to focus on promoting health benefits for women and infants.
What are some reasons you would recommend breastfeeding? Have you had experience with formula? What were doctors recommending when you had kids? Leave your answers in the comments section!