Eight more Colorado hospitals implemented the Colorado Can Do 5! during the past year, bringing the number of hospitals supporting these healthy breastfeeding practices to 41 of the state’s 53 hospitals with maternity services. Colorado Can Do 5! is a program launched by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment that has become a national model for maternity care.
The eight new hospitals implementing these practices were honored at the July 26 meeting of the Colorado Perinatal Care Council and include facilities in Alamosa, Canon City, Fort Carson, Glenwood Springs, Lamar, Montrose, Steamboat Springs and Vail.
“Hospitals play a critical role in helping new mothers breastfeed,” said Marianne ‘Dr. Mom’ Neifert, a Colorado pediatrician and breastfeeding expert. “We are pleased so many hospitals have adopted breastfeeding practices that help ensure mothers and their babies are given a healthy start in life.”
To implement the Colorado Can Do 5! hospitals must ensure:
· Babies are breastfed in the first hour after birth
· Babies are fed only breast milk in the hospital
· Babies stay in the same room with the mother
· Babies do not use a pacifier in the hospital
· Mothers are given a breastfeeding help telephone number before discharge
Colorado ranks first in the nation for exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a child’s life. Breastfed babies are less likely to develop infections, asthma, childhood obesity and sudden infant death syndrome. Mothers also benefit from a reduced risk for breast and ovarian cancers.
New mothers are confronted with many barriers to breastfeeding at the hospital, in the community and at work. Research shows hospital maternity practices, work place lactation rooms and community breastfeeding support groups can build a mother’s confidence in breastfeeding and ensure a longer duration. Ensuring Baby-FriendlyTM hospitals is one of the priorities in the health department’s Winnable Battle to fight obesity.
World Breastfeeding Week, Aug 1 – 7, is a time to build awareness and support for breastfeeding practices. Learning to breastfeed takes time, says Neifert, and families, friends, health care providers, employers, child care workers, community groups and the media can all play a role in a mother’s overall success with breastfeeding.
Two national health organizations recently released joint recommendations for health plan coverage of breastfeeding. The recommendations for breastfeeding support and counseling benefits were compiled collaboratively with medical, legal, regulatory, lactation, public health, and insurance experts.