Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is among a select group of 90 hospitals nationwide that have been asked to participate in Best Fed Beginnings, a first-of-its-kind initiative to significantly improve breastfeeding rates in states where they are the lowest. The National Initiative for Children's Healthcare Quality (NICHQ) is leading this program with the help of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Baby-Friendly USA, Inc., the national authority for the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative.
Although breastfeeding is one of the most effective preventive health measures for infants and mothers, half of U.S.-born babies are given formula within the first week, and by 9 months, only 31 percent of babies are breastfeeding at all. Breastfeeding rates are lowest among poor socio-economic populations. This program is intended to reverse these trends and to increase the number of U.S. hospitals with a proven model for maternity services that better supports a new mother's choice to breastfeed.
This model includes the use of several steps to successfully help mothers breastfeed including: educating pregnant women on the benefits of breastfeeding; helping mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth; showing mothers how to breastfeed and maintain lactation, even if they are separated from their infants; and eliminating the use of pacifiers for breastfeeding infants.
"We were honored to be selected for a program that has the potential to transform breastfeeding trends in this country," said Ronald Potkul, MD, chair, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, LUHS, and Mary Isabelle Caestecker, professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. "We look forward to working with this consortium to increase the number of U.S. hospitals that support a mother's choice to breastfeed."