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State of Maryland Announces New Breastfeeding Recommendations for Hospitals

Shady Grove Adventist Hospital Recognized as State Leader in Breastfeeding Policies

Rockville, MD – The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) today will unveil its Hospital Breastfeeding Policy Recommendations for all hospitals in the state to encourage and support breastfeeding for newborns. The announcement is taking place at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, which is a leader in Maryland for breastfeeding support and best practices, according to health officials.

“Supporting and encouraging mothers and babies to breastfeed is associated with long-term health benefits, and these policy recommendations will help hospitals do everything they can to provide that support,” said Frances Phillips, R.N., Deputy Secretary of Public Health Services with the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

The new recommendations provide a structure for hospitals to offer breastfeeding education, promotion and support to parents. The guidelines also position hospitals to attain “Baby-Friendly” status through the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) is a global program that encourages and recognizes hospitals that offer an optimal level of care for infant feeding. Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in Rockville is on path to become one of the first “Baby- Friendly” hospitals in Maryland.

State officials salute the work done by the clinical team at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital to provide a supportive and educational environment around breastfeeding and cite Shady Grove as an example for other hospitals in the state.

“Shady Grove Adventist Hospital is pleased to be recognized as helping to lead the way in Maryland by employing all ten of the state’s recommendations as we pursue Baby-Friendly status,” said Dennis Hansen, President of Shady Grove Adventist Hospital. “This is a reflection of the commitment of our Birth Center’s team to advancing the health of our community.”

The new DHMH policy and BFHI, which are both supported by research, promote breastfeeding as one of the most effective preventive health measures for both infants and mothers. Not only is breast milk the optimal food for infants, but breastfed babies have a lower risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), diabetes, respiratory and ear infections, skin allergies and obesity later in childhood. There are many benefits for mothers who breastfeed, as well, including decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancers.

“The nutrients and antibodies in breast milk provide infants with the correct amount of protein, water, sugar and fat for healthy development during their first months of life,” said Avneet Bawa, M.D., Chair of Pediatrics at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital. “Many studies support that breastfeeding through the first year of life reduces the risk of obesity and ultimately, many of the complicated diseases associated with obesity. Thus, breastfeeding is a very important part of prevention.”

Most new mothers begin breastfeeding while in the hospital. That early experience can greatly influence a mother’s success at breastfeeding.

“As part of our commitment to help new moms get breastfeeding off to a good start, we are working extensively with families, physicians, nurses, lactation consultants and our hospital executive team to provide exceptional education and encouragement for breastfeeding,” said Terry Francis, R.N., Director of Perinatal Services at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital. “We ensure this expert support is given to all mothers, regardless of how they choose to feed their babies.”

The Maryland Hospital Breastfeeding Policy Recommendations call for hospitals to:

  1. Maintain a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.
  2. Train all health care staff in skills necessary to implement this policy.
  3. Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
  4. Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
  5. Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they are separated from their infants.
  6. Give newborn infants no food or drink other than breast milk, unless medically indicated.
  7. Practice “rooming-in” – allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.
  8. Encourage unrestricted breastfeeding.
  9. Give no artificial pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants.
  10. Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic.

Shady Grove Adventist Hospital’s support for breastfeeding also has been recognized with the gold-level Breastfeeding-Friendly Workplace from the Maryland Breastfeeding Coalition, as well as the International Board of Lactation Consultants (IBCLC) Care Award. The IBCLC credential is the only one globally-accepted for professional lactation services and requires a rigorous recertification process every five years. All lactation consultants in Shady Grove Adventist’s mother/baby unit are IBCLC nurses who specialize in clinical management of breastfeeding.

Shady Grove Adventist offers daily breastfeeding classes and support groups while new mothers are in the hospital, in addition to phone support on weekdays and a free weekly support group through Adventist HealthCare called B.E.S.T. (Breastfeeding Education, Support and Togetherness) for mothers once they are at home. All are staffed by lactation consultants.

Shady Grove Adventist Hospital delivers 5,000 babies each year and is home to a Level IIIb Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, one of the highest designations granted to these units.

Shady Grove Adventist Hospital is a not-for-profit, acute care facility in Rockville, Maryland, with 331 licensed beds. Shady Grove is committed to delivering excellent health care through a ministry of physical, mental and spiritual healing. The hospital offers a broad range of health services and is recognized for excellence in emergency care; high-risk obstetrical and neonatal care; cardiac and vascular interventional care; oncology care; several surgical specialties; and a number of specialized services for children. The Shady Grove Adventist Emergency Center in Germantown provides emergency medical care to more than 36,000 residents each year. Shady Grove Adventist Hospital is part of Maryland-based Adventist HealthCare, an integrated health-care delivery system that is one of the largest employers in the state of Maryland.

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