To reflect the importance of breastfeeding, Centegra Health System ended the practice of sending new mothers home with commercial formula bags beginning April 1. Centegra Hospital-McHenry and Centegra Hospital-Woodstock will “Ban the Bags” to increase breastfeeding rates.
“We have known for many years that providing free infant formula samples reduces breastfeeding rates,” said Valerie Keller, an international board-certified lactation consultant at the Centegra Breastfeeding Resource Center. “If they have the free formula within their reach, new mothers who have problems with breastfeeding are less likely to call someone for help.”
The “Ban the Bags” grassroots campaign aligns with Centegra Health System’s dedication to supporting breastfeeding women and their babies. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be exclusively breastfed for the first six months and that breastfeeding continues at least until the end of the first year to promote the health of children and mothers.
According to the 2012 Breastfeeding Report Card released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in Illinois 76.8 percent of babies were breastfed when they were born. In 2012 the number of babies who were still breastfeeding at six months of age decreased to 49.8 percent and just 25.3 percent of babies were still breastfed at a year. Even lower were exclusive breastfeeding rates, which reflect the number of babies who receive breast milk as the sole source of nutrition: at three months 35.7 percent of babies were exclusively breastfed and at six months 13.6 percent of babies were exclusively breastfed.
“By banning the formula bags, Centegra’s hospitals are promoting breastfeeding. We provide support to each woman who wants to breastfeed her baby so she can establish an abundant milk supply and enjoy the experience,” Keller said.
Women who choose to feed their babies formula will still be able to do so at Centegra Hospital-McHenry and Centegra Hospital-Woodstock. All mothers will receive a gift when they leave the hospital. Rather than including the commercial formula bags, the gift is now an insulated bag with a reusable ice pack and health promotion items.
“We are so excited to show this commitment to breastfeeding and to the health of babies and mothers in our community,” Keller said. “We will continue to support every mother no matter her decision to breastfeed, however our hospitals will no longer serve as marketing agents for formula companies.”
The Centegra Breastfeeding Resource Center serves all new mothers in the community, regardless of whether they deliver at a Centegra hospital. Located at Centegra Hospital-Woodstock, the Centegra Breastfeeding Resource Center is staffed by nurses who are international board-certified lactation consultants (IBCLC). The patient-friendly center is designed to help moms with their breastfeeding questions, product choices and clinical support needs. Located on the ground floor of Centegra Hospital-Woodstock, the center includes various services to:
- Promote healthy mothers and healthy babies
- Assist mothers and babies during private, one-to-one outpatient consultations
- Be a convenient resource for standard and hard-to-find breastfeeding products
- Conduct private bra fittings for nursing bras
- Provide McHenry-based Medela products, supplies and accessories for sale or lease
- Answer general questions and concerns about the breastfeeding process
As the region’s leading healthcare provider, Centegra Health System continues to bring the latest treatments and technology, along with the skills of nearly 4,000 medical professionals, to meet the needs of the growing McHenry County community. For more information, visit Centegra Health System, find us on Facebook and Twitter or call 877-CENTEGRA (877-236-8347).