Florida: Encouraging Hospitals To Become Baby-Friendly
Hospitals influence how nearly 4 million US babies born each year are fed. About 3,300 hospitals in the United States are maternity hospitals. Only 289 are designated Baby-Friendly® hospitals, which means they help moms start breastfeeding and help them keep breastfeeding their babies as long as possible. The Florida Department of Health (FDoH) encourages hospitals to become Baby-Friendly because breastfeeding provides many health benefits. Babies who drink breast milk have better digestion and get better protection from germs. FDoH used a portion of its 2015 Preventive Health and Health Services (PHHS) Block Grant funding to provide mini-grants to 24 hospitals in 15 counties. The mini-grants helped the hospitals use the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding as a roadmap to becoming Baby-Friendly.
These Ten Steps include teaching new moms how to breastfeed, giving neither pacifiers nor bottles to babies who are breastfeeding, making sure babies consume only breastmilk (unless they have a medical condition that requires special food), and keeping moms and babies together the whole time they are in the hospital so that the babies can nurse any time they want to.
The 24 hospitals received $10,000 each to work on as many of the Ten Steps as possible. Local public health officials partnered with the hospitals to use a toolkit developed by FDoH. The toolkit included a project overview, hospital self-assessment tool, sample work plan and order forms, reporting forms, and a success story template. These tools made it easier for the hospitals across the counties to carry out the Baby-Friendly project consistently.
All 24 hospitals completed the self-assessment before and after the project so they could measure their progress. Overall, the hospitals reported a 36% reduction in the number of babies given pacifiers or bottles, an 8% increase in giving infants no food or drink other than breastmilk, and a 5% increase in encouraging breastfeeding whenever the baby is hungry.
Building on the initial work supported by PHHS Block Grant funding, FDoH continues its efforts to increase the number of Baby-Friendly hospitals in the state.
Story year: 2015