The state of California has enacted several laws over the last two decades that address the need for qualified breastfeeding support in birthing hospitals.
- The Breastfeeding Consultant or Information law (1995) requires all hospitals with maternity wards to provide mothers with either a breastfeeding consultant or information on where to obtain breastfeeding information. A consultant may be a registered nurse with maternal and newborn care experience. The mother may decline the consult/referral.
- The Hospital Infant Feeding Act (2011) requires all general acute care hospitals and special hospitals with perinatal units to have a hospital infant-feeding policy which promotes breastfeeding. Hospitals are required to clearly post their infant-feeding policy and to routinely communicate the infant-feeding policy to all perinatal unit staff. The infant-feeding policy may include guidance on formula supplementation or bottle feeding, if preferred by the mother, or when exclusive breastfeeding is contraindicated.
- The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding in Hospitals (2013) requires all general acute care hospitals and special hospitals with perinatal units to adopt, by 1/1/2025, The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, per the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI), or an alternate process adopted by a health care service plan that includes evidenced-based policies, practices and targeted outcomes, or Model Hospital Policy Recommendations.
- All birthing hospitals in Monterey and Santa Cruz County are currently recognized as Baby Friendly. The BFHI assists hospitals in giving mothers the information, confidence, and skills necessary to successfully initiate and continue breastfeeding their babies.
- If you are interested in seeing how your local hospital has done with breastfeeding in recent years, review the California WIC Association Annual Fact Sheet for your county.