According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), only 4-percent of the hospitals in the United States fully support breastfeeding. Support includes education, counseling and hands-on instruction. Early support for breastfeeding plays a huge factor in the success, or lack of success, a new mother has with breastfeeding. Breastfeeding supplies natural immunity to an infant reducing risk of illness.

The report, published in Vital Signs, noted that one out of every seven hospitals in the United States offer a formal breastfeeding policy. In addition, the CDC reported some hospitals give infants formula while new mothers are trying to learn proper breastfeeding. If a mother is breastfeeding, the infant is receiving all the nutrition it needs. Formula just confuses an infant as bottle nipples are far different from the breast.

The CDC suggests hospitals use the Ten Steps to a Successful Breastfeeding; a set of guidelines for hospitals. The guidelines state that hospitals should not give breast milk to babies unless there is a medical need. Encourage mothers to keep baby in the room 24-hours a day. Give mothers the tools they need, such as contact information for support groups, before they are discharged from the hospital. According to Ursula Bauer, PhD, MPH and director of the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, “In the United States most women want to breastfeed, and most women start. But without hospital support many women have a hard time continuing to breastfeed, and they stop early. It is critical that hospitals take action to fully support breastfeeding mothers and babies so they can continue to breastfeed long after their hospital stay.”

The CDC also recommends that hospitals offer new mothers information on the benefits of breastfeeding, including benefits to health, bonding and family finances. It is estimated that $2.2 billion in medical care costs are associated with lack of breastfeeding support. Source: Centers for Disease Control. Christian Nordqvist for Medical News Today. 2 August, 2011.