Susan D. Crowe, MD, clinical assistant professor at the Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA
The Third Annual California Breastfeeding Summit convened in Garden Grove, CA, January 31–February 1, with the theme of “Strengthening Breastfeeding Support throughout the Continuum of Care.” Physicians and other professionals across California joined Ron Chapman, MD, MPH, director of the California Department of Public Health; Laurence Grummer-Strawn, PhD, MPA, MA, chief of the nutrition branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); and other public health leaders to learn about evidence-based maternity practices that support breastfeeding. It was also an opportunity to foster partnerships between hospitals, physicians, and Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) agencies so that mothers are supported at every level of care.
California is leading a national movement to support the 90% of women who choose to breastfeed in its state. One-third of Baby-Friendly hospitals are in California. In addition, WIC is providing new levels of support to the 60% of babies born in California who are WIC eligible by establishing regional breastfeeding liaisons. Please contact your local WIC office for further details about how it can assist patients after hospital discharge.
Of particular interest to ob-gyns was a talk from Raylene Phillips, MD, MA, a neonatologist at the Loma Linda Children’s Hospital in Palo Alto, CA, about how critical the first hour after birth is in starting the breastfeeding relationship. Allowing babies to remain continuously skin-to-skin during this hour gives them the chance to instinctively find their way to the breast. Dr. Phillips also described how maternity practices, such as delaying the infant bath by 12 hours, increases breastfeeding by 40% and decreases hypoglycemia in the newborn. The Healthy Children Project website offers more information for patients and staff on this topic.
Dr. Grummer-Strawn concluded the summit with a lecture describing the CDC’s commitment to breastfeeding. Once thought of as a private, personal issue, breastfeeding is now considered a public health priority. The CDC is shifting its focus from breastfeeding promotion to breastfeeding support. Dr. Grummer-Strawn reinforced the importance of implementing national and state policies that provide support to women who choose to breastfeed but are unable to do so for as long as they want.