Breastfeeding provides maternal and infant health benefits. Maternity care practices encompassed in the 10 Steps to Successful Breastfeeding are positively associated with improved breastfeeding outcomes. This study assessed changes in maternity care practices and lactation support.
In 2009, 2011, and 2014, New York (NY) hospitals providing maternity care services were surveyed to assess the implementation of 9 of the 10 Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, professional lactation support, distribution of formula and discharge packs, and patient and hospital barriers to breastfeeding success.
The study finds that the percent of hospitals reporting implementation of Steps 2, 4, 6, or 9 increased, and the mean number of 9 steps implemented increased from 4.3 to 5.3. Hospitals distributing formula samples at discharge to breastfeeding mothers decreased significantly from 39 (32%) to 3 (2%). Professional lactation staffing ratios (N/1,000 births) of both International Board Certified Lactation Consultants and Certified Lactation Counselors increased between 2009 and 2011, but then decreased between 2011 and 2014. Reported barriers to breastfeeding support changed, with reductions in mixed messages from staff, but increases in lack of financial resources for breastfeeding support, inadequate prenatal education, mothers not being prepared, and family not being receptive to breastfeeding.
The authors conclude that between 2009 and 2014, NY hospitals reported increased barriers and a reduction in professional lactation support, which may have contributed to the limited improvements in breastfeeding support.