Breastfeeding - Giving Your Baby a Healthy Start in Life
Howard County General Hospital (HCGH) firmly believes that breastfeeding is a wonderful and easy way to give your baby a healthy start in life, and there are many known long-term health benefits to both mothers and babies. We are committed to supporting every mother that chooses to breastfeed her baby.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of your baby's life, followed by continued breastfeeding as complementary foods are introduced, and then continuing breastfeeding for one year or longer. AAP concludes that human milk is the best source for infant feeding and nutrition and has many short- and long-term medical advantages.
Some widely recognized benefits include:
- Decreased incidence and severity of childhood illnesses due to antibodies in breast milk
- Reduced infant mortality
- Support of neurodevelopment in the infant
- Reduced risk of childhood obesity, type 2 diabetes, allergies and asthma
- Decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancers, diabetes, postpartum depression and cardiovascular disease for mothers
- Breast milk is free! Formula costs can top $1,700 a year plus supplies
- Breastfeeding is actually less work - it requires no bottles to sterilize, formula to mix and no clean up
- Breast milk is easiest for your baby to digest
Ninety percent of new mothers at HCGH choose breastfeeding following delivery, and our support programs make it possible for them to successfully breastfeed long after they leave us. We have been a leader in supporting a new mother's choice to breastfeed as part of our overall maternal and newborn care for years and are committed to promoting breastfeeding and the long term health of mothers and babies. Important elements in our program include:
- Providing a nurturing environment for breastfeeding in the first hour of a baby's life
- Rooming-in for new mothers and babies to help mothers feel confident about caring for their infants, promote early bonding and skin-to-skin contact and to help mothers learn their infant's feeding cues for successful breastfeeding.
- Breastfeeding support provided by our nurses and lactation consultants gives new mothers the instruction and guidance they need for a successful start at breastfeeding.
- Breastfeeding classes are available before the birth of your baby for additional support and education.
- To minimize nipple confusion and encourage proper latching when breastfeeding, we encourage mothers to offer their newborns the breast to help soothe and calm the baby rather than provide pacifiers.
- Because colostrum and breast milk provide the best start for a healthy newborn baby, we only use formula when it is medically necessary. We support our mothers and babies, whether they choose to breastfeed or formula feed. For mothers who choose exclusive formula, we offer them comprehensive instructions on safe formula preparation for mothers who choose exclusive formula feeding.
To encourage and support exclusive breastfeeding among new mothers across the nation during their hospital stay, the National Initiative for Children's Healthcare Quality (NICHQ) recently launched a groundbreaking program called Best Fed Beginnings. HCGH is one of only 90 hospitals nationwide and one of only two in Maryland selected for this national effort. We are working with the other hospitals in a learning collaborative to achieve "Baby Friendly" designation by successfully implementing the American Academy of Pediatrics-endorsed Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, developed by the World Health Organization/UNICEF. The program will help ensure that we establish good breastfeeding practices for new mothers and provide an opportunity to further educate physicians and nursing staff by sharing information and best practices with other leading breastfeeding experts.
Hear what one young mother has to say about her breastfeeding experience: