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50% of Oklahoma hospitals now encouraging breastfeeding

Breast feeding

OKLAHOMA – Seven more Oklahoma hospitals have joined with hospitals already participating in the “Ban the Bag” initiative and have agreed to stop the practice of sending new mothers home with commercial formula discharge bags, the Oklahoma State Department of Health, Maternal and Child Health Service announced.

The current total of 28 hospitals means Oklahoma is 50 percent “bag-free.” At least two U.S. states and some large cities are 100 percent “bag-free.”

“Ban the Bag” is a national effort to increase breastfeeding rates by ending hospital promotion of brand name formulas, which has been shown to reduce breastfeeding rates. New mothers who have any problems with breastfeeding are more likely to turn to the “free” formula given to them by their hospital than to call someone for help.

Many Oklahoma hospitals are taking other steps to make breastfeeding easier for their families, including training their staff, providing early mother and baby skin-to-skin contact, promoting breastfeeding right after birth, and keeping mothers and babies roomed together.

 These efforts are starting to result in positive outcomes as Oklahoma’s breastfeeding rates increased in four of five categories in the 2013 Breastfeeding Report Card released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Reporting on babies born in 2010, these improved rates reflect several years of statewide collaboration to improve the care and support of Oklahoma’s breastfeeding mothers and babies.

For the first time, the CDC Report Card shows Oklahoma improved as follows: Exclusive breastfeeding at 3 months of age improved from 41st to 25th out of the 50 states, and at 6 months of age from 45th to 24th. Breastfeeding initiation also improved from 39th to 31st and any breastfeeding at 6 months from 43rd to 38th.

“We are moving in the right direction,” said Dr. Edd Rhoades, interim director of the OSDH Maternal and Child Health Service.