Vital Signs: Improvements in Maternity Care Policies and Practices That Support Breastfeeding - United States, 2007-2013
Background: Although 80% of U.S. mothers begin breastfeeding their infants, many do not continue breastfeeding as long as they would like to. Experiences during the birth hospitalization affect a mother's ability to establish and maintain breastfeeding. The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative is a global program launched by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children's Fund, and has at its core the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding (Ten Steps), which describe evidence-based hospital policies and practices that have been shown to improve breastfeeding outcomes.
Methods: Since 2007, CDC has conducted the biennial Maternity Practices in Infant Nutrition and Care (mPINC) survey among all birth facilities in all states, the District of Columbia, and territories. CDC analyzed data from 2007 (baseline), 2009, 2011, and 2013 to describe trends in the prevalence of facilities using maternity care policies and practices that are consistent with the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding.
Results: The percentage of hospitals that reported providing prenatal breastfeeding education (range=91.1%-92.8%) and teaching mothers breastfeeding techniques (range=87.8%-92.2%)was high at baseline and across all survey years. Implementation of the other eight steps was lower at baseline. From 2007 to 2013, six of these steps increased by 10-21 percentage points, although limiting non-breast milk feeding of breastfed infants and fostering post-discharge support only increased by 5-6 percentage points. Nationally, hospitals implementing more than half of the Ten Steps increased from 28.7% in 2007 to 53.9% in 2013.
Conclusions: Maternity care policies and practices supportive of breastfeeding are improving nationally; however, more work is needed to ensure all women receive optimal breastfeeding support during the birth hospitalization. Implications for Public Health Practice: Because of the documented benefits of breastfeeding to both mothers and children, and because experiences in the first hours and days after birth help determine later breastfeeding outcomes, improved hospital policies and practices could increase rates of breastfeeding nationwide, contributing to improved child health.