The Benefits of Breastfeeding
Howard County General Hospital (HCGH) firmly believes in the benefits of breastfeeding. It is a wonderful and easy way to give your baby a healthy start in life. According to experts, starting breastfeeding as soon as your baby is born and continuing for an extended period of time has many benefits for baby and mother. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for about six months, 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 health 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 and asthma
- Decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancers, diabetes, postpartum depression and cardiovascular disease for mothers
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 promoting 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, offering rooming-in to help mothers feel confident about caring for their infants, and minimizing the amount of formula given to newborns unless it is medically necessary or the mother’s choice. For mothers who find that formula feeding is the best choice for their infants, we offer them comprehensive instructions on safe formula preparation and feeding patterns for their babies. We support our mothers and babies, whether they choose to breastfeed or bottle feed.
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:
Read a list of tips to help you prepare for breastfeeding.
Learn more about Best Fed Beginnings at nichq.org.
For information about breastfeeding from the American Academy of Pediatrics, visit aap.org.