News ID: 237515
Published: 0656 GMT January 18, 2019

Improved maternity care practices decrease racial gaps in breastfeeding in the US South

Improved maternity care practices decrease racial gaps in breastfeeding in the US South
familyeducation.com

A new paper published in Pediatrics links successful implementation of baby-friendly practices in the southern US with increases in breastfeeding rates and improved, evidence-based care. The changes were especially positive for African-American women.

Between 2014 and 2017, 33 hospitals enrolled into the Communities and Hospitals Advancing Maternity Practices (CHAMPS) program out of Boston Medical Center's Center for Health Equity, Education and Research, funded by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, eurekalert.org wrote.

All birthing hospitals in Greater New Orleans, and 18 in Mississippi, signed up. Breastfeeding initiation at CHAMPS hospitals rose from 66 percent to 75 percent, and, among African Americans, from 43 percent to 63 percent, over the three years. The gap between White and Black breastfeeding rates decreased by 9.6 percent.

"US breastfeeding rates differ by race," said Anne Merewood, PhD MPH, a Boston Medical Center researcher and the lead author on the study.

"This is the first study that links better compliance with the World Health Organization's ten steps to successful breastfeeding to lower racial inequities across a large number of hospitals."

Lakendrea Bush gave birth to her first daughter, Aubreigh, at Baptist Memorial Hospital, North Mississippi, on December 7th, 2018. The hospital is part of the CHAMPS program and working on improved maternal infant care.

"It was a wonderful blessing, a humbling and beautiful experience," said Lakendrea.

"We had skin to skin for a whole hour after birth. Some hospitals take the baby away, but not this one," she said.

"I cried. I gave her first feed. It was my first child, and she was looking at me, and me at her. My husband was coaching me along. It was almost surreal."

Lakendrea also loved the hospital's 'rooming in' policy, which keeps mothers and babies together.

"I really wanted my baby with me. I didn't want them to take her away. I'm breastfeeding as well, so it really helped to have her there." Lakendrea had some early challenges with breastfeeding but one month on says it's now going well.

"It was difficult sometimes, but you know the baby's getting the best food, so everything else goes out of the window really," she said.

CHAMPS received new funds from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation and the Bower Foundation in 2017 to continue the work. Now, 38 of 42 Mississippi birthing hospitals are working with CHAMPS and eight Mississippi hospitals are Baby-Friendly, up from zero in 2014. In December 2018, the Bower Foundation gave CHAMPS a new, 3-year grant to help continue the program in designated hospitals, with a focus on sustaining evidence based maternity practices in Mississippi, and making Baby-Friendly policies the norm.

   
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