218,000 More Babies Per Year to Be Delivered at Baby-Friendly Hospitals

Posted August 03, 2015 by Cindy Hutter

NICHQ celebrates National Breastfeeding Month; Shares Strategies to Help Hospitals Improve Breastfeeding-Related Maternity Care

NICHQ is proud to celebrate breastfeeding awareness through World Breastfeeding Week and National Breastfeeding Month. These observances come on the heels of a report detailing impressive results from Best Fed Beginnings, a NICHQ-led, groundbreaking national initiative to help hospitals improve breastfeeding-related maternity care and increase the number of Baby-Friendly hospitals in the U.S.

While breastfeeding is one of the most effective preventive health measures for infants and mothers, exclusive breastfeeding rates are low in the U.S. Hospitals, birthing facilities and communities can be critical in helping support mothers who choose to breastfeed.

“Improving hospital maternity care practices to support women who choose to breastfeeding is one of the many ways in which we are working to improve children’s health,” says NICHQ’s Senior Director of Programs, Research and Evaluation Marianne McPherson, PhD, MS. “These improvements also benefit non-breastfeeding families. We are thrilled to have played an important role in this critical work.”

NICHQ works with healthcare practitioners to improve breastfeeding support by using proven quality improvement techniques, parent-provider collaboration and other implementation methods. Some of the improvements the birthing facilities working with NICHQ are making include: reducing pacifier use, standardizing and spreading breastfeeding education, encouraging more skin-to-skin contact after birth, reducing separation of mother and infant, and more—all of which are evidence-based methods for supporting mothers who choose to breastfeed.

At the end of the Best Fed Beginnings* initiative in March, 31 hospitals had achieved Baby-Friendly designation, increasing the number of infants delivered at a Baby-Friendly hospital by over 93,000 per year. Since March, 19 more hospitals achieved designation, increasing births by 155,000 per year in Baby-Friendly hospitals. Once the additional hospitals transition from their final stage of designation assessment to full designation, we expect that the number of infants delivered at a Baby-Friendly hospital will increase to over 218,000 per year. (Read the executive summary or full report for more results.) 

“We are ecstatic that the 89 hospitals who participated in Best Fed Beginnings dramatically improved their maternity care and infant feeding practices, and all progressed to the final phase of Baby-Friendly designation,” says NICHQ’s Senior Director of Perinatal Projects Jennifer Ustianov, MS, BSN, RN, IBCLC. “This project demonstrated that a quality improvement framework focused on collaborative learning and strong partnerships make it possible to dramatically increase the number of Baby-Friendly designated hospitals at an accelerated rate."

To help advance breastfeeding awareness, NICHQ has a wealth of resources for healthcare practitioners, parents and others to learn more about improving breastfeeding support for families and why breastfeeding is important. The breastfeeding section of NICHQ’s website offers success stories from hospitals improving their maternity care practices, inspirational videos, and information on NICHQ’s breastfeeding quality improvement projects.

*Best Fed Beginnings was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and run in partnership with the United States Breastfeeding Committee and Baby-Friendly USA.

To learn more about NICHQ's breastfeeding work, visit the breastfeeding section of our website.


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