Breastfeeding/Baby Friendly Hospitals

Breastfeeding is the most natural way for a mother to feed her infant. Breast milk remains the one and only natural and complete form of nutrition for human infants. It is nature's formula for ensuring the health and quality of life for infants, as well as on through childhood to adult life.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends infants are fed nothing but breast milk for the first 6 months of life. AAP also recommends infants continue to be breastfed from 6-12 months of age in addition to learning to eat solid foods. New moms need the support of others to have a successful breastfeeding experience which includes family members, hospital professionals, and employers.

The Importance of Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding has several emotional and physical benefits for both mother and child. Here are a few:

Benefits for Babies
• Reduces risk of becoming obese in childhood
• Breastfeed babies have less ear infections, less colds, respiratory infections
• Breastfeed babies have fewer chronic diseases such as asthma, type I and II diabetes
• Breastfeeding is associated with lower infant mortality.
• Breast milk is easier to digest than formula, resulting in less spit-up (emesis) , diarrhea, colic

Benefits for Mothers
• Breastfeeding helps mothers bond with their baby.
• Breastfeeding saves time and money. No bottles need to be washed and sterilized, and no formula needs to be bought.
• Mother’s who breastfeed have lower rates of type 2 diabetes and a decrease chances of developing ovarian and breast cancer, anemia and osteoporosis
• Mother’s who breastfeed recover from pregnancy and labor faster than those mothers who do not breastfeed.

To learn more about other benefits of breastfeeding, click here.

Breastfeeding Support for Women and Infants
The Cook County Department of Public Health (CCDPH) is committed to educating resident s of the importance of breastfeeding, increasing breastfeeding rates throughout suburban Cook County, and promoting optimal breastfeeding practices in hospitals, workplaces and in the community.  CCDPH provides breastfeeding support for eligible women through the Women, Infant and Child (WIC) Program. For information about breastfeeding support though CCDPH, click here.

Breastfeeding Support at Hospitals
Babies are born to breastfeed. However, there are a number of barriers to breastfeeding that start from the beginning.

CCDPH encourages all hospitals in suburban Cook County to offer optimal level of care for infant feeding to new moms by implementing the 10 steps for successful breastfeeding and moving towards becoming Baby Friendly designated. With support from The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative USA and local agencies like HealthConnect One and the Illinois Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics, hospitals across suburban Cook County are making improvements to promote breastfeeding practices throughout labor, delivery and postpartum care, two of which have decided to participate in the process to become recognized as a Baby Friendly Hospital: Little Company of Mary Hospital and Northwest Community Hospital.

To learn more about the BFHI and the Baby Friendly hospital standards, click here.

Breastfeeding Support at the Workplace
Support of employers to allow for new mothers to express milk at work is key to increasing the success rate for mothers to breastfeed. Along with our partners, CCDPH urges Employers to provide adequate support to promote breastfeeding to their employees. There are many ways an Employer can support breastfeeding including:
• Flexible work schedules to allow moms time to breastfeed their babies or pump breast milk during the workday
• A clean, private and safe space other than a toilet stall where women can express or pump breast milk
• A sink near the pumping space where women can clean pumping equipment

Federal law requires employers to provide reasonable, unpaid break time and a private, non-bathroom place for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child’s birth. Employers can also add breastfeeding support to their worksite wellness policy. Within the policy, employers can supply lactation education and supplies for all employees. Many employers are making steps to support breastfeeding at the workplace. For example, the City of Blue Island is working with MetroSouth Hospital to institute a lactation policy to be instituted at all MetroSouth and City of Blue Island buildings.

For more information about breastfeeding support at the workplace, click here.

Legislation Supporting Breastfeeding
The Affordable Care Act was a huge step to promoting breastfeeding on a federal level. Illinois is one of many states to create state-level policies that support breastfeeding. Here are a few:

Right to Breastfeed Act
Nursing Mothers in the Workplace Act
Hospital Infant Feeding Act

Partners

The Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (ICAAP)  is an organization of approximately 2,300 pediatricians in Illinois. Primary activities include advocacy on behalf of children, families, and health professionals in Illinois; the provision of continuing medical education and other resources for pediatricians, pediatric specialists, and other child health care providers; and collaboration with other state organizations and agencies on programs and projects that improve the health and well-being of children.

HealthConnect One, formerly Chicago Health Connection, is a nationally recognized nonprofit training and technical assistance agency that uses innovative, community-based approaches to support direct-service providers in promoting the health of mothers, infants, and families.  The organization trains community health workers, develops community-based initiatives, and mobilizes diverse stakeholders to build for policies and programs that improve maternal and child health. 

Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition (IMCHC) is dedicated to promoting and improving the health and well being of infants, children, mothers and families through advocacy, education, community empowerment and policy development. Activities of IMCHC address and support the fundamental principles of equity, social justice and fair access to care, which are basic rights of all human beings. IMCHC’s main objectives are directed to overcome critical barriers, such as poverty and racism, that prevent achievement of maternal and child wellness.

Resources for Health Care Providers

If you work in a health care setting and are interested in providing breastfeeding information and resources, here are links to useful information.
• Illinois Breastfeeding Blueprint 
• American Academy of Pediatrics
• Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine

Take Action

Residents can advocate for more programs that provide mother-to-mother support and peer counseling. Your organization can also promote breastfeeding support and initiatives in your community.
• Breastfeeding Resources
• Breastfeeding Advocacy
• Illinois Breastfeeding Blueprint
• Take Action in Illinois
• Community Promotion Guide
• Healthy Places