Friday, June 13, 2008

Hospitals do poorly on breast-feeding support

Regarding the article below: this is why we roomed-in with Nicky in the hospital when he was born - to get the most natural and complete start to our breastfeeding relationship. Those first few days of breastfeeding are so important, and we wanted to avoid the occasional ignorant nurse who would disregard our request that he have no bottles of formula, sugar water, or water or pacifiers like this article talks about. I understand that labor is hard work and no judgment here, but it really suprises me that other mothers don't choose to room-in. I mean, I just wanted to get to know my baby and all his needs and get into some sort of rhythm together before we went home. Sorry, but no way in hell I am relying on the nurses that I've never met before to take care of him when that's what I'd been waiting to do for 9 whole months:)! Dude, I'd rather go home from the hospital tired and let my family or someone else I know watch the baby while I napped. And rooming in helped my milk come in way quicker - it was in before we left the hospital after a 2 day stay.

Oh and here's an idea post-partum unit nurses: if the baby is crying, bring the baby to its mother instead of automatically sticking a bottle in its mouth!!!!

Hospitals do poorly on breast-feeding support
1 in 4 medical centers gave supplements to healthy newborns, study reports
The Associated Press
updated 2:47 p.m. CT, Thurs., June. 12, 2008

ATLANTA - Most U.S. hospitals don't do very well when it comes to promoting breast-feeding, according to the first national report to look at the issue. The average hospital scored 63 out of 100, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday.

The researchers did not attach letter grades to the scores, but the results were clearly disappointing, said Deborah Dee, a CDC epidemiologist who co-authored the report.

"There is a lot of room for improvement," said Dee.

States in New England and on the West Coast scored highest, and the South did the worst. Vermont and New Hampshire topped the list, tied with a score of 81. Arkansas had the poorest score, 48.

But practices unfriendly to breast-feeding were common throughout the country, the survey found.

About a quarter of hospitals reported giving formula or some other supplement to more than half of their healthy, full-term newborns. The practice was common even when mothers were able and willing to breast-feed, Dee said.

Of hospitals who gave supplements, 30 percent gave sugar water and 15 percent gave water.

Experts say there are no good nutritional reasons to use those, but it is commonly done to quiet crying babies separated from their mother. Sometimes it's done to test a baby's ability to feed — even though such a test is usually not necessary, Dee said.

Breast-feeding is considered beneficial to both mothers and their babies. Breast milk contains antibodies that can protect newborns from infections, and studies have found breast-fed babies are less likely to become overweight that those fed with formula.

But breast-feeding can be frustrating for new mothers because of nipple pain or the misperception that they're not producing enough milk. It's crucial that moms get proper breast-feeding advice and encouragement those first few days after birth, said Dr. Sheela Geraghty, a lactation expert at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.

"It's wonderful that hospitals and birth centers are being examined because if moms aren't helped right there, where are they going to be helped?" Geraghty said.

The research was based on questionnaires filled out last year by about 2,700 U.S. maternity hospitals and birth centers. Hospitals were scored on supportive efforts, like offering breast-feeding tips and keeping the mother and the infant together. They also were evaluated on practices detrimental to breast-feeding, including supplemental feedings or including infant formula samples in gift packs for mothers.

Hospitals may regard the gift packs as benign, but the practice interferes with breast-feeding, said Laurence Grummer-Strawn, chief of the CDC's nutrition branch.
"They don't understand they're implicitly endorsing a product and they're giving an easy out for when parents are tired" to use the formula, he said.

The highest score for a hospital or birth center was 98; the lowest was 12. The CDC did not release individual scores.



Avery said...

Hi Lesley. Avery was given a pacifier in the hospital even though I said not too. I was so mad although it worked out. Unfortunately she couldn't room in the first night because she was being monitored closely and almost went to the NICU. My family and the nurses tried (unsuccessfully) to convince me it was better not to room in but I was really disappointed, not to mentioned incredibly worried! - Megan

LesleyH said...

Megan, rooming-in is not an all-or-nothing thing. Avery needed special attention her first few hours and so she got that. But as soon as you got the go-ahead, she was with you and I think that counts as rooming in!! All babies should be as lucky as her - to have a mom that follows her heart while still working with the medical staff to give her the medical services she needed. I am sorry that your wishes on the pacifier weren't followed. To me, that is just rude - they should have at least asked. But I am glad that it worked out anyway and she did not have any nipple confusion and it did not keep her from breastfeeding enough to affect your supply (the two reasons to avoid pacifiers until breastfeeding is well established). I think for many babies, pacifiers can be great things (you know, those little sucker babies that could suck all day long:), but they can be tricky, too! Hence the waiting if you can:)