All of New York’s hospitals have now implemented breastfeeding policies that support the World Health Organization recommendations, according to a new study published today in Preventing Chronic Disease.
The study reviewed policies from all 129 NY hospitals providing maternity care services. In 2009, none were fully compliant, but by 2013, 97, or 75 percent of the hospitals had compliant hospital breastfeeding policies. And as of April 2014, all 129 hospitals in New York had a fully compliant, approved, written breastfeeding policy in place.
In 2009, New York passed a law requiring hospitals to support the World Health Organization’s recommended Ten Steps for Successful Breastfeeding, an evidence-based set of policies and practices that have been shown to increase breastfeeding.
“Breastfeeding provides many health and economic benefits to mothers, infants and the public, and hospitals and their policies play an important role in supporting and encouraging mothers to breastfeed,” explained lead study author Barbara A. Dennison, MD, Director of Policy and Research Translation in the Division of Chronic Disease Prevention at the New York State Department of Health.
In spite of this, a 2009 CDC survey of NY hospitals showed that only 26 percent of hospitals reported they had comprehensive breastfeeding policies. New York passed the Breastfeeding Mothers’ Bill of Rights in August 2009 to strengthen its regulations, and provide greater access to information and support for new mothers.
Incorporating the practices into formal written policy is recommended as a first action in instituting institutional and systems change. Written hospital breastfeeding policies are strong determinants of whether recommended maternity care practices are implemented in hospital. They are also associated with a greater likelihood that mothers will breastfeed, and for longer duration.
New York was the first state to adopt legislation that required hospitals to ensure that women and their newborns received recommended maternity care during a perinatal admission.