Staff members at Queens Hospital Center in New York worked for seven years to help the facility earn Baby-Friendly designation in June from the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund.
Now that QHC is one of only three hospitals in New York City to have earned the designation, and the first in Queens, according to the hospital, staff members are promoting the benefits of breastfeeding with the launch this fall of Journey to a Baby-Friendly Queens.
They will conduct a series of workshops throughout Queens to provide access to education and counseling on the benefits of breast-feeding and to promote other factors that lead to a healthy mother and child.
Being a Baby Friendly hospital is not just limited to successful breast-feeding, said Zenaida Magnaye-Banzon, MSN, PNP, CCRN, associate executive director at QHC. [The designation] signifies excellence in providing evidence-based maternity and infant care practices. and this is what we would like to promote and spread out to the community.
Magnaye-Banzon said mothers will be encouraged to have skin-to skin contact with their babies and to breast-feed immediately after birth. Also, babies will be cared for in mothers rooms instead of a nursery. Having the baby room in allows mothers to learn their babies feeding cues, Magnaye-Banzon said, adding that studies show mothers get more rest when their baby is in their room while in the hospital.
Pacifiers will not be routinely offered to breast-feeding newborns, and bottles with artificial nipples and formula will be discouraged, she said. Avoiding artificial nipples and infant formula prevents newborn from becoming confused with breast-feeding.
Magnaye-Banzon said educating fathers about the benefits of breast-feeding is one way to help ensure mothers continue to breast-feed their children. The hospital recently certified its first male lactation counselor to promote educating fathers.
According to QHC, the percentage of mothers who exclusively fed their babies breast milk at the hospital has increased from 12% in 2012 to 55% in 2014.
This year, 96% of babies have received breast milk while in the hospitals NICU, according to QHC.