Christiana Care is among 90 U.S. hospitals participating in Best Fed Beginnings, a first-of-its-kind national, 22-month collaborative effort to significantly improve breastfeeding rates in states where they are lowest.
Breastfeeding has health benefits for infants and mothers. For infants, it decreases the incidence and severity of many infectious diseases, reduces infant mortality, supports neural development and decreases the risk of becoming obese later in childhood.
Breastfeeding mothers benefit from decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancers, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and cardiovascular disease.
But half of all babies born in the United States receive formula within the first week, and the percent of babies breastfeeding at nine months is only 31 percent.
“Breastfeeding education must begin early in pregnancy and be reinforced during the birthing experience to ensure all women can make an informed choice,” said Richard Derman, M.D., chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Christiana Care.
Best Fed Beginnings aims to better support a new mothers’ choice to breastfeed and increase the number of U.S. hospitals implementing a proven model for maternity services. The National Initiative for Children’s Healthcare Quality-led effort, which receives some funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, works closely with Baby-Friendly USA, Inc., an international initiative affiliated with the UNICEF/World Health Organization. Using proven quality improvement methods, participating hospitals transform their maternity care services in pursuit of “Baby-Friendly” designation.
The hospitals participating in Best Fed Beginnings were selected from a pool of 235 applications. Christiana Care is the only participating hospital in Delaware. Upon completion of the program, participating hospitals will receive a Baby Friendly designation.
“Christiana Care is honored to participate and happy to have the opportunity to improve maternity care services and to better support breastfeeding,” said Louis E. Bartoshesky, M.D., MPH, chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Christiana Care. “We recognize that the hospital experience strongly influences the ability of women who plan to breastfeed to start and continue breastfeeding. We are committed to implementing evidence-based care through the Baby-Friendly designation process and fully support mothers delivering in our facility who intend to breastfeed.”