"We now have the evidence to prove that giving anything other than the breast to a newborn is the key factor in the success of the breastfeeding relationship," said Emma Kwasnica, a Vancouver-based childbirth and breastfeeding educator. "Even more appalling is the fact this disruption happens during the very first two days of life. When 80 percent of hospitals in the USA are supplementing the newborn baby by Day 1 or 2, the mother-baby unit doesn't even stand a chance."
The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative is a global program sponsored by the WHO and UNICEF. Its mission is to encourage hospitals to offer an optimal level of care for infant feeding by giving mothers information, confidence and skills to successfully initiative and continue breastfeeding their babies.
The initiative also hopes "to end the practice of distribution of free and low-cost supplies of breast-milk substitutes to maternity wards and hospitals."
"This isn't a lofty goal and it must be achieved in order to reverse the rates of breastfeeding sabotage that we are now clearly seeing," said Kwasnica. "Adding further insult to injury is the deplorable lack of paid maternity leave in the USA. It is no wonder that so few mothers are still breastfeeding by 8 weeks, as they are already back at work."
But the breastfeeding relationship has already been jeopardized when supplements are given in the hospital. Nevertheless, women who experience problems need more than just baby-friendly hospitals," said Susan Burger, president of the New York Lactation Consultant Association.
"They need customized follow-up care to assist them to overcome their own specific problems to augment the general advice they may receive in the few short days they are in the hospital," Burger said.