More New Mothers Breastfeed After Giving Birth at City Public Hospitals
Aug 05, 2009
The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) today announced that more women who deliver babies at its 11 public hospitals are choosing breast milk for their infants. HHC estimates that about 80 percent of women who delivered at public hospitals in 2008 chose breastfeeding and 31 percent of women chose exclusive breastfeeding. That’s an increase from 27 percent in 2006. HHC hospitals delivered 23,800 babies in 2008.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report that disparities in breastfeeding continue to exist, with non-Hispanic black and socioeconomically disadvantaged groups having lower breastfeeding rates. That is why HHC began an aggressive program to encourage initiation of breastfeeding in the baby’s first hour as part of a campaign to increase exclusive breastfeeding and improve infant health. HHC pulled free baby formula samples from gift bags to new mothers and banned formula promotion materials from labor and delivery units. HHC hospitals continue to make formula available for women who request it or are unable to breastfeed for medical reasons.
HHC’s comprehensive breastfeeding program, funded in part by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, features:
- New gift bags for moms with a breast milk bottle cooler, disposable nursing pads and breastfeeding tips.
- Education sessions starting early in pregnancy about the benefits of breast milk.
- Breastfeeding coaches and lactation consultants who provide one-on-one lactation support to moms at the bedside to help initiate breastfeeding within one hour of delivery.
- Promoting breastfeeding on demand by having moms and babies stay in the same room until discharge.
- Making available hospital-grade electric breast pumps to moms whose newborn must remain in the hospital.
- Distribution of free personal breast pumps to eligible moms who have no health insurance.
- Ongoing peer counseling and support groups for breastfeeding moms in selected clinics and WIC centers after they leave the hospital.
- Home visits to exclusively breastfed and late premature infants in selected communities to provide continuing breastfeeding support during the first two weeks of the infant’s life.
- Discourage the use of pacifiers or artificial nipples among healthy newborns except during painful procedures.
“Babies are programmed to breastfeed. Mom’s body is the most natural and most nurturing environment for the baby. Why break that cycle and separate the two?” said Khamattie Jones, breast feeding coordinator at HHC’s Woodhull Hospital. “The earlier a baby begins nursing, the faster the milk will be produced and that is the only feeding a baby needs for the first six months.”
Studies have shown breastfeeding to protect against many illnesses, including ear infections, diarrhea, respiratory ailments, allergies, colds, viruses, staph, strep and E. coli infections, diabetes, meningitis, pneumonia, urinary tract infections, salmonella, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and Crohn’s Disease.
“As a first time mom, I had no previous experience to help aid my decision, however I was a breastfed baby and I am a very healthy 23-year-old,” said Amy A. who gave birth July 28 at Bellevue Hospital Center. “I believe it’s due to my being breastfed up until I was 33 months old. In addition, I am familiar with the mother’s ability to have extra nutrients and vitamins naturally in her breast milk.”
Why breastfeeding makes a difference (source: La Leche League)
Breastfeeding offers an unmatched beginning for children. Providing infants with human milk gives them the most complete nutrition possible. Human milk provides the optimal mix of nutrients and antibodies necessary for each baby to thrive.
- Mothers who choose to breastfeed have many health benefits. Recent studies show that women who breastfeed enjoy decreased risks of breast and ovarian cancer, anemia, and osteoporosis. Breastfeeding helps the body recover from pregnancy and labor and burns about 500 calories a day.
- Families who breastfeed save money. In addition to the fact that breast milk is free, breastfeeding provides savings on health care costs and related time lost to care for sick children.
Tips for Breastfeeding
- Bring the baby to the breast, not the breast to the baby. Bending forward while nursing may cause back pain.
- Drink enough liquids – a glass of water, milk, or unsweetened juice every time you nurse.
- Get plenty of rest, eat a healthy diet, and talk to your doctor about taking a multi-vitamin.
- Nurse often to build up your milk supply.
- If you can’t remember which side you last nursed on, put a safety pin on your bra to remind you. Some mothers switch a ring from one hand to the other.
“There is such an overwhelming beauty in the art of breastfeeding that to me is indescribable. It’s a privilege to be involved in such a personal, valuable, and important time in the family’s life,” said Linda Lubin, Bellevue’s breast feeding coordinator. “Breastfeeding is a gift not only to infants, mothers, and families, but to all those involved in promoting, supporting, and protecting it. It’s a gift to be cherished.”
For more breastfeeding information visit
Contact: Ian Michaels (HHC) (212) 788-3339
The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) is a $6.7 billion integrated healthcare delivery system with its own 420,000 member health plan, MetroPlusHealth, and is the largest municipal healthcare organization in the country. HHC serves 1.4 million New Yorkers every year and more than 475,000 are uninsured. HHC provides medical, mental health and substance abuse services through its 11 acute care hospitals, five skilled nursing facilities, six large diagnostic and treatment centers and more than 70 community based clinics. HHC Health and Home Care also provides in-home services for New Yorkers. HHC was the 2008 recipient of the National Quality Forum and The Joint Commission’s John M. Eisenberg Award for Innovation in Patient Safety and Quality. For more information, visit www.nychhc.org/hhc or find us on facebook.com/NYCHealthSystem or twitter.com/NYCHealthSystem.