In 2010, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) began work toward having all maternity hospitals in Maryland commit to provide better breastfeeding support. While this began as an internal process, Maryland Breastfeeding Coalition (MBC) members became aware of its existence and have been working in many different ways to help it succeed.
By spring 2012, all Maryland hospitals that provide maternity care have voluntarily agreed to implement steps to better support breastfeeding mothers and babies. Twenty three hospitals have signed commitments to DHMH to work towards implementing Maryland Hospital Policy Recommendations. Nine hospitals have indicated to DHMH that they have signed letters of intent to achieve the Baby Friendly designation.
The Maryland Hospital Policy Recommendations and Baby Friendly steps are very similar. The biggest differences are their order, and that the Maryland recommendations focus only on breastfeeding and breastfed infants while the Baby Friendly steps encompass infant feeding.
MBC members participate on the DHMH Hospital Breastfeeding Policy committee. MBC has advocated to hospitals to ban formula giveaway bags (achieving an increase from 6% of hospitals to 56%), and is working both to help healthcare providers understand what Baby Friendly and Maryland Best Practice Hospitals means, and improve Maryland’s ability to locate community breastfeeding support. MBC members have communicated within their hospitals, communicated to colleagues at other hospitals, and are working to developed materials that can be shared to support this initiative.