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Breastfeeding in West Virginia
West Virginia Birthscore


     The WV Birth Score program collects data on breastfeeding intention (at hospital admission for delivery) and exclusive breastfeeding at discharge. 

     37% of the mothers in WV exclusively breastfed their infant before hospital discharge in 2018, although more than half (57%) of the women intended to breastfeed. 

     Maternal knowledge about infant health benefits, as well as comfort with breastfeeding in social settings, is directly related to intention to exclusively breastfeed. Prenatal interventions that address these issues may increase exclusive breastfeeding intention and duration.

     The difference in exclusivity rates from intention rate is reflective of both hospital policy & procedures as well as mother’s knowledge and commitment to breastfeeding. 

CDC Report Card


     The CDC Breastfeeding Report Card provides information on breastfeeding practices and supports in all states. 

*Source: CDC National Immunization Survey (NIS) 2016-2017, among 2015 births.

     According to the report card released in 2018 West Virginia has:

  • 68.6% ever breastfed

  • 40.1% breastfeeding at 6 months

  • 24.3% breastfeeding at 12 months

  • 36.3% exclusively breastfed through 3 months

  • 20.2% exclusively breastfed through 6 months


WV Bf rates 2010 to 18 CDC Graph.png
Baby Friendly


     Every hospital that attains the Baby-Friendly designation moves WV closer to increasing the proportion of live births that occur in facilities that provide recommended care for lactating mothers and their babies. In West Virginia, 8.1% of all deliveries occurred at Baby-Friendly designated facilities in 2018. The Healthy People 2020 goal is 8.1%.
     With 2 more facilities already receiving designation in 2019 and 2 more completing the requirements for designation, that percentage will increase further.

West Virginia’s Baby Friendly Designated Hospitals are:

  1. MonHealth, Morgantown

  2. St. Mary’s Medical Center, Huntington

 NEW in 2019:

  1. WVU Medicine Berkeley Medical Center, Martinsburg

  2. Ohio Valley Medical Center, Wheeling 

  3. United Hospital Center, Clarksburg


Project: Breastfeeding Promotion in Women with a History of Opioid Abuse or Currently Receiving Medication-Assisted Treatment 

Action Plan:

1. Disseminate protocol(s) for breastfeeding in the substance abuse population and supporting evidence for all WV hospitals and individual providers (both OB and Pediatric)

2. Distribute Fact Sheets and Educational Materials –specific to the substance using population for both Providers and Mothers  (SAMHSA fact sheets, marijuana fact sheet/brochure, SUD and breastfeeding fact sheet/brochure “Mom is the medicine”)

3. Support providers and hospital staff to establish and implement policies and procedures for breastfeeding among the substance using population.

Mothers Returning
to Work


49% of WV Households have a Breadwinner Mother (Source - 2018 Status of Women in the States)  

     The ACA also requires most employers to provide break time for breastfeeding women and a private space that is not a bathroom for nursing or pumping.

     Other upcoming WVBA breastfeeding promotion and protection strategies include establishing an awareness & recognition program for both Baby Friendly Businesses AND Baby Friendly Childcare.

Breastfeeding Support

To better support breastfeeding families, the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF, among other international and national health authorities, recommend that all maternal/child health care workers be educated in the skills necessary to support breastfeeding families. 

ACOG, AAP and AAFP all support more training for providers and staff working with mothers and infants.  Strategies for improving education and training for all health care professionals in WV include: 

  • Improve the breastfeeding content in undergraduate and graduate education and training for health professionals

  • Increase opportunities for continuing education on the management of lactation to ensure the maintenance of minimum competencies and skills


In 2018, the WVPP & WVBA with support from the WV Bureau for Public Health, Office of Maternal Child and Family Health, offered 2 Lactation Counselor trainings yielding 86 new Certified Lactation Counselors.  The new CLC’s came from hospitals, physician practices, WIC offices and the WV Home Visitation program.  

Plans are underway for another training November 4-8, 2019 with support from the WVBPH/OMCFH, WIC and DNPAO.  

The 2019 mPINC survey just closed June 28 2019, with at least 76% of WV Birthing Facilities participating. This is the first survey since 2015.

Affordable Care
Act 2010


Health insurance plans must provide breastfeeding support, counseling, and equipment for the duration of breastfeeding. These services may be provided before and after birth.  The WV Perinatal All Topics group has compiled a list of WV payers’ Breast Pump and Lactation Services Benefits.  WVBA is working to disseminate this information to all providers, clinics and WIC offices to make it easier for moms returning to work or school to procure a pump.

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