In partnership with the Washington State Hospital Association, the Washington State Department of Health launched Breastfeeding Friendly Washington Hospitals on August 3. This voluntary program recognizes birthing hospitals that support breastfeeding and is part of Governor Jay Inslee’s Healthiest Next Generation Initiative.
Recognizing that Washington's future depends on the health of our children, Gov. Inslee launched the Healthiest Next Generation Initiative to help our next generation be the healthiest ever. Supporting breastfeeding is one of the initiative’s three areas of focus.
This program is based on the World Health Organization’s Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding. The steps were adapted for birthing hospitals in Washington, using three tiers of recognition (bronze, silver and gold). Successful applicants will receive window decals, a letter and certificate of achievement from Secretary of Health John Wiesman, and a CD with logo files and a sample press release. Hospitals that qualify for the Gold Recognition Level will also receive a plaque.
This program is not only about recognition for hospitals, but it is also a vehicle for families to learn about how hospitals are supporting breastfeeding. The promotional package hospitals receive will help with this awareness. Prospective parents can also search our website for a Breastfeeding Friendly Hospital nearby.
"The Governor declared the Healthiest Next Generation initiative, and breastfeeding was one of the key areas he wanted to focus on," said Michele Lord, Department of Health Breastfeeding Coordinator. "Through research, we have noted that Washington has a good breastfeeding initiation rate among moms. However this number declines, and by six months we have a low number of moms that are still breastfeeding. Putting the pieces together, we realized that there is something happening from the moment the mom leaves the hospital that can shape her success in continuing to breastfeed. So we decided to begin with hospitals to promote breastfeeding across the state, to get new moms off to a great start."
Ten Steps to the Breastfeeding Friendly Washington program:1. Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all healthcare staff.
2. Train all healthcare staff in the skills necessary to implement this policy.
3. Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
4. Place babies skin-to-skin with their mothers for 60 minutes immediately after birth and help mothers recognize and respond to feeding cues.
5. Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation even if they are separated from their infants.
6. Give infants no food or drink other than breastmilk unless medically indicated.
7. Practice rooming-in to allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.
8. Encourage breastfeeding on demand. Teach mothers cue-based feeding regardless of feeding method.
9. Give no artificial nipples or pacifiers to breastfeeding infants.
10. Establish a system for referring mothers to out-patient and community support.
The Benefits of Breastfeeding:
Breastfeeding helps protect and maintain the health of both mothers and babies. Breastfeeding protects babies from infections and illnesses such as diarrhea, ear infections and pneumonia and breastfed babies are less likely to develop asthma. Research also shows that breastfeeding a baby for nine months reduces a baby’s risk of becoming overweight by more than 30 percent. Mothers who breastfeed have a decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancers, Type 2 diabetes and post-partum depression.
Supporting breastfeeding is also good for business– big and small. Businesses that support breastfeeding employees are better at retaining valued employees. When employees breastfeed, businesses see less sick time taken by both moms and dads for doctor visits and hospitalizations. Because breastfeeding protects the health of both moms and babies, businesses experience lower health care and insurance costs.
To learn more about the program, contact Michele Lord, Department of Health Breastfeeding Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org or (360) 236-3625. To share how you are creating the healthiest next generation, use the hashtag: #HealthiestNextGen on social media!