TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Studies have long held that breastfeeding lowers the risks babies will develop things like infections, allergies - even diabetes.
But in Kansas, CDC figures from 2011 show, of the 75 percent of moms who start breastfeeding, only 41 percent are still breastfeeding at six months - and only about ten percent are breastfeeding exclusively for that length of time as recommended...
A new effort aims to boost those numbers.
Stormont-Vail pediatric hospitalist Dr. Steven Crouch is among those involved with the High 5 for Mom and Baby campaign. Crouch says hospitals play a role in making the breastfeeding experience easier.
The United Health Ministry Fund in conjunction with the Kansas Hospital Association are spearheading the effort. It covers five things hospitals can do to help moms establish breastfeeding and successfully continue it.
The first is encouraging skin to skin contact. Crouch says the warmth of the mother, along with her smells and sounds, are comforting to the baby and trigger the natural tendency to want to nurse.
The next two items are aimed at not confusing the baby while they get the hang of breastfeeding. Those are no pacifiers for at least the first two weeks (after that, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends putting babies down to sleep with a pacifier to reduce risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) and hold off on bottle feeding as long as possible. Crouch says the process of getting nutrition from a breast is different than a bottle so it confuses the baby to be switching back and forth too soon.
The fourth item on the list is "rooming in." Unless there's a medical reason, the little ones should stay in mom's hospital room. Crouch says the practice keeps mom close at hand when baby needs to feed and also allows the mother to learning baby's clues for when he is hungry.
Finally, mom and baby should leave the hospital armed with resources for help, such as La Leche Leagues or the hospital's breastfeeding clinic.
Crouch says, if there's a concern or a problem, a mother might start to feel insecure and coming back to a place where someone can help them through the issues and dispel an misinformation can build confidence and help a woman to stick with breastfeeding.
The next phase of the campaign involves training hospital staffs around the state about the five key points.