NH DHHS - Recognizes World Breastfeeding Week to Promote a Healthy Start for All Babies

Concord, NH – The theme of this year’s World Breastfeeding Week, August 1-7, is Just Ten Steps: The Baby-Friendly Way, commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Innocenti Declaration, which called for implementation of the Ten Steps for Successful Breastfeeding in all maternity facilities. The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Division of Public Health Services (DPHS) supports the teaching and practice of breastfeeding babies to promote better health.

Studies show that breastfeeding provides optimal nutrition, protection against chronic childhood diseases and obesity, and the promotion of maternal and infant bonding. New Hampshire is one of twenty-five states funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to decrease the prevalence of obesity, with increased breastfeeding initiation, exclusivity, and duration of breastfeeding as a target area.

“Protecting, promoting, and supporting breastfeeding, with its many known benefits is a key strategy toward improving the health of mothers, babies, and children,” said Dr. José Montero, Director of Public Health at DHHS.“Workplaces that provide women with a private place to express milk better support exclusive breastfeeding and contribute to longer duration of breastfeeding; both of which improve health outcomes for moms and babies.”

The CDC’s 2009 Breastfeeding Report Card indicates New Hampshire has achieved the 2010 Healthy People goal with 78.4% of mother’s initiating breastfeeding after delivery (http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/pdf/2009BreastfeedingReportCard.pdf). New Hampshire has also achieved the 2010 Healthy People goal for continued breastfeeding at three months old and six months old, 55.1% and 30.5%, respectively. New Hampshire is one of only ten states to achieve all five Healthy People 2010 breastfeeding goals.

Health care facilities play a vital role in the establishment of breastfeeding initiation. The Ten Steps provide a supportive pathway for women to achieve their breastfeeding intentions and guide the training of healthcare professionals in breastfeeding support. Studies show that the more of the Ten Steps a hospital adopts, the more likely women are to achieve their breastfeeding intentions. New Hampshire currently has three hospitals certified as Baby-Friendly: Alice Peck Day in Lebanon, Concord Hospital in Concord, and Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Nashua.

The New Hampshire WIC Nutrition Program at DHHS provides mothers with breastfeeding education and support during the prenatal period and, after delivery, manual and electric breast pumps and an enhanced food package for exclusively breastfeeding mothers. New Hampshire was one of nine State WIC agencies recently recognized by the US Department of Agriculture for greatest improvement in WIC breastfeeding rates. New Hampshire's community health centers, with funding from the DPHS Maternal and Child Health Section, also support and promote exclusive breastfeeding to improve the health of infants.

The 2010 Breastfeeding Resource Guide for professionals is available online. To learn more about DHHS’s breastfeeding promotion activities, call (603) 271-0571, visit us on the web at www.dhhs.state.nh.us/dhhs/wic/breastfeeding.htm, or email the WIC Program at wic@dhhs.state.nh.us.