PINEHURST — There are many reasons to breastfeed.
To begin, babies who are breastfed during the first year of life are generally healthier and less likely to suffer from common childhood infections. In addition, natural proteins in the mother’s milk help build the baby’s immune system and mother’s milk contains the right combination of vitamins and minerals a baby needs for healthy growth and development. Also important is the fact that breastfeeding promotes bonding between mother and child.
In an effort to encourage more of its patients to breastfeed, Women & Children’s Services at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital has joined the “Ban the Bag” campaign of the North Carolina Breastfeeding Coalition, a program designed to eliminate the marketing of infant formula from the state’s maternity facilities.
In recognition of its participation in the program, the Moore Regional service has received an NCBC “Golden Bow” award and been acknowledged on the NCBC website.
According to registered nurse Beth Hutchinson, administrative director of Women & Children’s Services, Moore Regional’s current “exclusive breastfeeding” rate (breastfeeding without supplement) is 48 percent. She hopes the decision to participate in the “Ban the Bag” campaign will help increase that number by eliminating the “implied endorsement” provided by the formula sample bags.
“FirstHealth has joined multiple other hospitals in the state in efforts to promote breastfeeding,” Hutchinson said. “One of the ways to do this is to stop giving out gift bags that support formula feeding. We have chosen instead to provide education and support to all mothers regardless of their feeding choice.”
According to the state Breastfeeding Coalition, multiple studies have shown that new mothers are more likely to start using formula after they get the marketing bags, which contain formula samples, coupons and other advertising. Research also indicates that one reason for the low rate of exclusive breastfeeding is the marketing of formula in health care facilities.
For more information on the various services, including breastfeeding education, provided by Women & Children’s Services at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital, visit www.firsthealth.org/women.
Brenda Bouser works in corporate communications for FirstHealth of the Carolinas.