New data: Baby-Friendly Hospital Laws

The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) is a global initiative of UNICEF and the World Health Organization aimed at promoting hospital policies that encourage and support breastfeeding. Baby-Friendly USA, the organization primarily responsibile for implementing BFHI in the United States, has outlined 10 evidence-based practices that hospitals can implement to support breastfeeding — called the 10 Steps to Successful Breastfeeding. These include written breastfeeding policies, staff training, rooming-in, and educating mothers about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.

Several states have enacted statutes or regulations encouraging or requiring hospitals to adopt one or more of these “baby-friendly practices.”

The newest map on LawAtlas.org, which was created and is maintained by ChangeLab Solutions, identifies key features of state laws and regulations regarding recommendations or requirements for hospitals related to any of the 10 Steps to Successful Breastfeeding. It also includes state laws recommending or requiring certain hospital discharge practices related to breastfeeding.

In 15 of the 18 states with laws laws or regulations that encourage and support breastfeeding initiation and continuation, hospitals must follow one or more baby-friendly practices

In 15 of the 18 states with laws laws or regulations that encourage and support breastfeeding initiation and continuation, hospitals must follow one or more baby-friendly practices.

As of October 1, 2016, 18 states had enacted laws or regulations that encourage and support breastfeeding initiation and continuation. In 15 of these states, hospitals must follow one or more baby-friendly practices.

Explore the maps and download the data at LawAtlas.org.

Thought about Breastfeeding and Civil Liberties

Breastfeeding is known for being an extremely politicized issue. Past decades introduced us to different interest groups advocating for and against the ideal of “Breast is best”. A recent book by Courtney Jung called ‘Lactivism: How Feminists and Fundamentalists, Hippies and Yuppies, and Physicians and Politicians Made Breastfeeding Big Business and Bad Policy’ describes how the ideal of breastfeeding became a focal point of consensus among conflicting political groups like environmentalists and capitalists, leftists and conservatives and many more. The book reveals troubling regulatory schemes which sanction non-breastfeeding moms by denying benefits and iron rich food for their babies. This pattern of body governance echoes Dorothy Roberts’ book ‘Killing the Black Body’ which described how procreation decisions made by poor-black-women, are constantly sanctioned and regulated by the state in order to achieve social objectives, for example, by conditioning welfare benefits in an installation of permanent contraceptives.

In Roberts’ book, a clear distinction is made with respect to the reproductive liberty of black and white women. The contraceptive pill, which symbolizes the emblem of reproductive freedom and is highly identified with the feminist movement, was the product of a scientific endeavor greatly motivated by conservative groups’ desire to control population through family planning schemes, historically targeting the fertility of poor black women. In a similar way, the ideal of “breast is best” has also been operating differently with respect to race and economic status. In Linda Blum’s bookAt the Breast: Ideologies of Breastfeeding and Motherhood in Contemporary United States’ she conducts interviews with women who didn’t nurse. She found that in contrast to white women who strove for outer respectability and experienced their lack of breastfeeding as a failure to conform with the breastfeeding imperative, black women emphasized their use in feeding instruments as significant for their independence which was highly evaluated. Accordingly, statistics show generally lower breastfeeding rates among black women in the US.

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Checking in on PPACA’s Protections for Pumping Moms

By Kate Greenwood

Cross-Posted at Health Reform Watch 

For most women who work outside the home—Gisele Bundchen excepted—breastfeeding on the job is not an option.  Pumping breast milk during the work day is more likely to be a realistic, if often challenging, choice.

 As I blogged about here, Section 4207 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act amended the Fair Labor Standards Act to require that employers provide their non-exempt employees  with reasonable unpaid breaks to express breast milk, and “a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public” in which to do it.  Employers with less than 50 employees are relieved of the requirement to the extent that it “would impose an undue hardship by causing the employer significant difficulty or expense when considered in relation to the size, financial resources, nature, or structure of the employer’s business.”  In addition, under the Health Resources and Services Administration guidelines implementing PPACA’s women’s preventive services mandate, insurance plans must cover “costs for renting breastfeeding equipment” such as breast pumps and related supplies.

According to news reports (e.g., here, here, and here), new mothers have had some difficulty turning PPACA’s promise of a breast pump into a reality.  Many insurers require that women go through a durable medical equipment provider, but many durable medical equipment providers do not stock breast pumps.  In addition, insurers vary in what type of pump they cover.  Writing in the Winston-Salem Journal late last month, neonatal nurse practitioner Tinisha Lambeth reports that:

“Some mothers of premature infants qualify for a manual breast pump, while some mothers of full-term babies qualify for (unnecessary) hospital-grade electric pumps. Still others will get a dual electric pump, which are not as effective as a hospital-grade electric pump for an extended period of time, but are adequate for supplying full-term babies.  It all depends on your coverage.”

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