Harrison Dowd was just born Monday at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital. He was nursing in no time.
“Cut the cord and wiped him down and he was breast feeding within what, fifteen minutes or so,” says Nicole Beauchamp, his mother.
Starting early and then keeping babies on breast milk for six months to a year is now considered ideal and on Tuesday officials called on all Maryland hospitals to help make it possible.
“Consciously develop a supportive environment that does help moms begin breast feeding and continue breast feeding,” says Frances Phillips, deputy secretary at the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
The voluntary recommendations include keeping mother and baby together 24/7 while in the hospital and no pacifiers until breastfeeding is well-established.
“It’s all in the data. They’re healthier, less incidence of asthma, allergies, diabetes, childhood obesity if babies are breast fed,” says Terry Francis, director of perinatal services at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital.
Shady Grove has stopped accepting free formula from companies to discourage its use and offers private rooms where staffers can nurse or pump and store their milk. Sometimes, though, the biggest obstacle is family.
“My mother… she didn’t breast feed me and so if I’m having a hard time or I need to nurse [the baby] in public she’ll say, “Oh just give her a bottle of formula. I did that for you,’ and I have to say “Mom, you know, this is a different time. It’s my baby. I’m not doing that,” says Jessica Mollete, a new mother.
Officials say support for breastfeeding moms needs to continue once she’s home and then back to work. The upside needs to be emphasized, too.
“I don’t know how many times I’ve gone out and realized I don’t have enough diapers, but I always have milk. Always have lunch for her.” says Katie Walsh.