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Evidence-Based Hospital Breastfeeding Support Learning Collaborative

2014 Legislative Session Week Three – Breastfeeding Friendly Washington

Promoting breastfeeding has been a part of the work we do at WithinReach since the beginning.
Breastmilk is a baby’s perfect first food. It has special nutrients a baby needs that are not found in formula and changes to meet the needs of a growing child, including giving your baby protection against illness and infection.  As a result, breastfed babies have fewer earaches, colds, and allergies and are less likely to experience Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Besides the many health benefits, breastfeeding also helps build a special bond between a mother and her baby.
Most mothers know that breastfeeding is the best choice, too.  Nine out of ten babies in Washington begin life breastfeeding!
But breastfeeding isn’t easy, and unfortunately only 34% of babies are still breastfeeding at one year. New mothers are dealing with sleep deprivation, recovering from giving birth, getting into doctor’s appointments, etc.  So when a baby isn’t latching on and the mother doesn’t have support or resources to help her, changing over to formula is far too easy to do.
Through the Evidence-Based Hospital Breastfeeding Support Learning Collaborative (EBBS), WithinReach has worked with the Department of Health to identify and implement steps that hospitals can take to be more breastfeeding friendly.  We want mothers to be set up for breastfeeding success!
We were very excited to see two bills introduced into the state legislature this year that, if passed, would create a voluntary program to encourage and recognize institutions that take steps to promote breastfeeding.
The Senate version (Senate Bill 6298) would create a designation system for hospitals that take steps to promote breastfeeding.  This bill had a hearing last Monday in the Senate Health Care Committee where WithinReach Executive Director, Alison Carl-White, testified about the great work that has been done by WithinReach and our Breastfeeding Coalition of Washington.  The Senate Bill passed out of the Health Care Committee on January 30th and now sits in the Rules Committee, who will decide if the bill will be sent to the Senate floor for debate and possible vote.
The House version (House Bill 2329) would also create a designation system, but in addition to hospitals this one would also include health care providers, workplaces, and child daycare centers that take steps to promote breastfeeding.  This bill also had a hearing last week.  The hearing was in the House Health Care Committee and Alison testified again in support of the bill.  Alison’s testimony at this hearing can be watched at TVW.  We expect the House Health committee to vote on the bill within the next couple of days.
While there are some differences between the two bills, either would be a great step forward in encouraging hospitals and other institutions to provide more support and resources to help women be successful with breastfeeding. The sponsor of the Senate Bill, Senator Randi Becker, was interviewed on TVW’s The Impact about the breastfeeding friendly bill.  The piece also included some of Alison’s testimony!
The legislature is only in session for 60 days this year, so there is a short period of time to pass this important legislation.  Take a minute to contact your legislators and ask them to support House Bill 2329 and Senate Bill 6298 so we can make more places breastfeeding friendly.  If you don’t know who your legislator is, you can find that out here by putting in your information.

Tags: Breastfeeding   Breastfeeding Coalition of Washington   Evidence-Based Hospital Breastfeeding Support Learning Collaborative   

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