Do Hospitals Discourage Breastfeeding?
According to a recent study that analyzed 1,573 mothers that gave birth to a single child in 2005, hospital practices greatly impact a mother's ability to reach her breastfeeding goals.
Of the 70 percent first time mothers that intended to exclusively breastfeed, only 50 percent were in fact doing so at one week after delivery. One of the reasons? Supplementation with formula or water.
Among the first-time mothers, if they were not offered formula or water supplements for their babies, they were 4.4 times more likely to breastfeed exclusively. Mothers that had previously given birth were 8.8 times more likely to reach their breastfeeding goal.
Hospitals that follow steps to support breastfeeding, such as the 10 steps put forth by The Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, have a greater success in helping mothers breastfeed exclusively. Even practicing six of these steps meant that a first-time mom was six times more likely to fulfill her breastfeeding intentions.
Study author Eugene Declercq and his co-workers asked, "Why are those hospital practices that have been repeatedly shown to increase breastfeeding among new mothers not more consistently instituted in United States hospitals?" A large proportion of mothers stop exclusive breastfeeding within the first week, and that action was strongly related to hospital practices."