To determine appropriate benchmarks and guidelines for Breastfeeding Initiation Rates and Exclusivity in a Community Hospital Setting
Data was collected from July 2010 through April 2012 based on The Joint Commission’s Perinatal Guideline measures for Exclusive Breastfeeding. However target rates from this source were wide (30% to over 90%), so applicability to our practice was undecided. A thorough literature search was done to determine appropriate guidelines and to set targets specific for our hospital.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) lists rates for "Ever Breastfeed" at 3 months of life in the United States (US) and by individual states. Our hospital’s data for combination breast and bottle feeding was comparable and often exceeded the CDC’s Ever Breastfed rates in the US and in North Carolina. A benchmark for Exclusive Breastfeeding has yet to be determined.
Using Ever Breastfeeding rates from the CDC at 3 months are comparable to our hospital rates at discharge however, they do not consider mother’s work status which at 2-3 months of life it is common for moms to return to work, resulting in less breastfeeds. Until another database of rates is determined and published for the time period from hospital birth to discharge, the CDC is an acceptable benchmark for breastfeeding rates.
Most of us know that breastfeeding is the best choice for infants, but establishing meaning for data is a real challenge. More research is needed to determine what rates of breastfeeding are acceptable and what rates are exceptional.