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More Oklahoma hospitals agree to go 'bag-free' in effort to increase breast-feeding

Twenty-eight hospitals are “bag free,” equaling 50 percent of Oklahoma's birthing hospitals. “Ban the Bag” is a national effort to increase breast-feeding rates by ending hospital promotion of formulas, which has been shown to reduce breast-feeding rates.
FROM STAFF REPORTS Modified: February 5, 2014 at 1:00 pm •  Published: February 4, 2014
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Seven additional Oklahoma hospitals have agreed to stop the practice of sending new mothers home with commercial formula discharge bags, the state Health Department announced Tuesday.

In Oklahoma, 28 hospitals are “bag free,” equaling 50 percent of Oklahoma's birthing hospitals. At least two U.S. states and some large cities are 100 percent “bag-free.”

“Ban the Bag” is a national effort to increase breast-feeding rates by ending hospital promotion of formulas, which has been shown to reduce breast-feeding rates.

New mothers who have problems with breast-feeding are more likely to turn to the free formula given to them by their hospital than to call someone for help, Health Department officials said.

Many Oklahoma hospitals are taking other steps to make breast-feeding easier for their families, including training their staff, providing early mother and baby skin-to-skin contact, promoting breast-feeding after birth, and keeping mothers and babies roomed together.

Improving outcomes

These efforts are starting to result in positive outcomes as Oklahoma's breast-feeding rates increased in four of five categories in the 2013 Breast-feeding Report Card released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC report shows Oklahoma's ranks improved as follows:

• Exclusive breast-feeding at 3 months of age improved from 41st to 25th out of the 50 states.

• Exclusive breast-feeding at 6 months of age improved from 45th to 24th.

• Breast-feeding initiation, or breast-feeding newborns while in the hospital, improved from 39th to 31st.

• Any breast-feeding at 6 months improved from 43rd to 38th.