Take action: Two ways to support Baby-Friendly Hospitals
In February, California senators Kevin deLeon and Fran Pavley, introduced a bold bill to implement Baby Friendly Hospitals in California. SB 402 would require all perinatal hospitals in California to implement the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, as adopted by Baby Friendly USA per the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative by January 1, 2020. Hospitals would also have the option to implement an equivalent process recognized by the California Department of Public Health. As public health champions, we know that hospital practices that support breastfeeding play a key role in helping new moms realize their breastfeeding goals and work to improve the health and well-being of children and mothers. We urge you to take action and voice your support for this groundbreaking legislation by sending a letter of support to your legislators and attending an upcoming hearing on April 3rd (more information below).
Hospital policies and practices are one of the first influences on a woman’s decision to breastfeed. The first 24-72 hours of a child’s life – while the mother and baby are still in the hospital – are a critical window for initiating and practicing breastfeeding. Hospital practices such as not provide skilled support breastfeeding support, separating a mother from her baby, delaying the first feeding, and providing formula supplementation can discourage mothers from continuing to breastfeed or carrying out their decision to breastfeed.
Hospital policies that promote and support breastfeeding can reduce health inequities. Evidence shows that hospitals that have implemented model baby-friendly hospital policies show higher rates of exclusive breastfeeding across all income levels and ethnicities. Policies like Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding help level the playing field, providing all babies and mothers a fair chance at accessing the protections provided by breastfeeding – no matter where the baby is born.
SB 402 (Baby Friendly Hospitals in California) goes to the Senate Health Committee on Wednesday, April 3rd. We need your help to ensure that this critical bill becomes law. Let the Senate Health Committee know just how important policies that support breastfeeding are by sending a letter of support today. Letters must be received by Friday, March 22.
• Fax or mail a letter of support to the Senate Health Committee by Friday, March 22 at (916)324-0384. Read sample letters of support from public health advocacy organizations and community members.
• The first Senate Health Committee hearing on SB 402 is scheduled for Wednesday, April 3, at 1:30PM, in Room 4203 at the State Capitol in Sacramento. The bill’s sponsors, senators deLeon and Pavley, and the California WIC Association, will also host a media event outside the Capitol with mothers, babies, and other breastfeeding advocates. Time to be determined. We will post the information here on our website, and @Strat_Alliance will tweet the details when available.
For more information on the bill, upcoming Senate hearing, and future advocacy opportunities, visit the California WIC Association website.