What Does California’s SB 402 Mean To You?

October 10, 2013

Originally posted October 10, 2013 on IBCLCINA’S Blog.

This morning, hospital administrators in California wake up to the news that the Governor signed into law Senate Bill 402, requiring that all maternity facilities in California adopt the Baby-Friendly Ten Steps or equivalent practices by 2025. This is nothing short of amazing for mothers, babies, and families – if we do it right. Adopting these practices which support exclusive breastfeeding in all facilities, regardless of ZIP code, means that all moms and babies get a fair shake when it comes to getting breastfeeding help and education in the hospital. The nationwide impact and influence of California is no small factor, either. What happens in CA as these changes roll out will be set on a large stage and observed sharply from all directions. So how can we be sure it has the most positive impact?

A) Hospitals should begin by analyzing their existing policies to ensure they are within the new law. Then have their staff International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) examine the policies and weigh in on protocols and practices currently taking place in the facility. No IBCLC on staff? Time to hire one permanently or pay for the consulting services of an IBCLC. Remember, the IBCLC credential by itself means that the bearer is qualified and trained to not only provide the highest level of clinical care to mothers and babies, but also to participate and coordinate with the healthcare team and to consult and advise regarding policies and education. An IBCLC does not need to possess any other healthcare credential to do provide these services. See the website http://www.ILCA.org for additional information about what IBCLCs do and http://www.iblce.org for additional information about the credentialing process.

B) Ensure adequate funding immediately for proper lactation education of all Maternal Child Health staff. Delays in funding their education will cause delays in implementing policy and procedural changes. Ensure education includes staff physicians as well as physicians with privileges. If they are not practicing evidence-based medicine with regard to breastfeeding, hold them accountable and insist on change.

C) Coordinate with your local network of lactation support to create a community network for mothers to receive breastfeeding help. Local breastfeeding coalitions and task forces work hand-in-hand with WIC to ensure resources are available to all mothers, regardless of socioeconomic status. Put a representative in the room at the January 2014 State Breastfeeding Coalition conference. Establish an internship program for aspiring IBCLC’s in your community to ensure that clinical experience is available to them.

D) Learn more about why breastfeeding-supportive healthcare environments are critical for the future of preventive medicine. In addition to the websites of the U.S. Breastfeeding Committee, Baby-Friendly U.S.A., and Kaiser Permanente, you can also refer to http://www.first100hours.com for information about how to make the process of appropriate lactation support more manageable.

This is the first day of better health for the future of California’s mothers and babies! Let’s celebrate and thank those who worked tirelessly to make this day possible.