New York, NY: NYC Health + Hospitals on September 8, 2022, announced that its 11 acute-care facilities have each been designated as “Baby-Friendly” for successfully providing evidence-based maternity care practices to support optimal infant feeding. The prestigious endorsement is awarded by Baby-Friendly USA, the accrediting body for the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) in the U.S. The World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) launched BFHI in 1991 to assist hospitals with giving parents the information, confidence, and skills necessary to successfully initiate and continue breastfeeding their babies. Designation typically takes four years to complete, and re-designation occurs every five years. Each of NYC Health + Hospitals’ 11 acute-care sites have been re-designated as a Baby-Friendly hospital at least once. NYC Health + Hospitals/Harlem has been a Baby-Friendly hospital since 2008.
“With this achievement, our city’s health care system has positioned itself as one of the global leaders in providing top-quality maternity care that supports optimal infant feeding. We know there are racial disparities in breastfeeding rates, and NYC Health + Hospitals is committed to closing that gap,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. “Expectant parents looking for a hospital or birthing center should consider our public hospitals because these facilities are prepared to help you and your new baby get off to the best start.”
“NYC Health + Hospitals is a diverse health care system serving a very diverse population, and being designated as ‘Baby-Friendly’ signals to our communities that we are qualified to meet their family’s nursing expectations, wherever they are in the continuum of breastfeeding capabilities and desires,” said NYC Health + Hospitals Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer Machelle Allen, MD. “We take pride in supporting parents and giving them the tools and resources necessary to initiate and sustain successful breastfeeding, which provides substantial health benefits to babies and their moms.”
“Congratulations to all eleven NYC Health + Hospitals birthing facilities for achieving Baby-Friendly designation,” said NYC Health + Hospitals Chief Women’s Health Officer Wendy Wilcox, MD, MPH, MBA, FACOG. “Achieving Baby-Friendly status is not an easy endeavor and our staff should be commended for the tremendous dedication they have shown to support parents’ individual choices for how to feed their newborns.”
“NYC Health + Hospitals is the nation’s largest municipal health care system, serving a diverse and vulnerable population. It is a huge achievement for all 11 hospitals in the system to earn the prestigious Baby-Friendly designation,” said Baby-Friendly USA CEO Eileen Fitzpatrick, DrPH, MPH, RDN. “This is a true testament to the leadership at NYC Health + Hospitals and to the dedication of their staff. Baby-Friendly USA is so very proud of these hospitals’ accomplishments and congratulates the entire NYC Health + Hospitals system.”
Accreditation by Baby-Friendly USA (BFUSA) is a significant challenge for any facility. After registering with BFUSA, hospitals must complete all of the requirements in each of the four phases of its “4-D Pathway” process.
This includes an on-site assessment, where the facility must demonstrate that it has correctly integrated all of the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding and the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes into its maternity practices. They include:
· Having a written infant feeding policy that is routinely communicated to staff and parents
· Discussing the importance and management of breastfeeding with pregnant patients and their families
· Facilitating immediate and uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact and supporting parents to initiate breastfeeding as soon as possible after birth
· Enabling parents and their infants to remain together and to practice rooming-in 24 hours a day
· Supporting parents to recognize and respond to their infant’s cues for feeding
· Counseling parents on the use and risks of feeding bottles, artificial nipples (teats), and pacifiers
NYC Health + Hospitals recently updated its breastfeeding guidelines to coincide with new recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Parents are urged to extend breastfeeding to two years or more if mutually desired by parents and their babies. Breastfeeding services offered at NYC Health + Hospitals include:
· Breastfeeding classes (available in-person and online, as well as in one-on-one and group settings)
· Lactation consultants in postpartum units, as well as women’s health and pediatrics practices
· Hospital-grade electric breast pumps for parents whose newborns must remain in the hospital
· Free personal breast pumps (for eligible parents)
To learn more about obstetrics and gynecology services, including breastfeeding, at NYC Health + Hospitals, visit website.