Nine pound, 7 oz. John Allen Sebiski, Jr. eats at Mom’s. So will many more of the 21,000 other newborns delivered at NYC public hospitals following HHC’s campaign to increase the number of moms who exclusively breastfeed.
“We want to encourage the use of mother’s milk and do all we can to improve the health of the littlest New Yorkers,” said HHC President Alan D. Aviles. “We are promoting breastfeeding to help reduce the risks of common childhood infections, asthma, diabetes and other conditions that children who get mother’s milk are less likely to develop.”
HHC is excluding free baby formula samples from gift bags, banning formula promotion materials from labor and delivery units and encouraging initiation of breastfeeding in the baby’s first hour. Launched to coincide with World Breast Feeding Week, August 1 – 7, the new HHC program gathered national media attention, including the Today Show, ABC World News Tonight, the View, and CNN. It also garnered support from breastfeeding advocates.
“This is the second time I have had the wonderful opportunity to experience bringing a life into this world. I want to offer everything possible to my newborn. This is why I breastfeed. I'm grateful for all the education and coaching I have received to support this decision," said John Allen’s mom, Nicole Ayala.
HHC’s breastfeeding program, funded in part by the City’s Health Department, features:
- New gift bags for moms with a breast milk bottle cooler, disposable nursing pads, breastfeeding tips and an “I eat at mom’s” baby t-shirt;
- Education sessions starting early in pregnancy about the benefits of breast milk;
- Breastfeeding coaches 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 after they leave the hospital.
“I’ve been teaching breastfeeding for 25 years. There’s nothing more rewarding than witnessing the first skin-to-skin contact between a mother and a baby as we try to facilitate breastfeeding in the first hour of life,” said Maria Aviles, RN, Certified Lactation Consultant, HHC’s Jacobi Medical Center.
About 24 percent of women who deliver at public hospital facilities leave the hospital exclusively breastfeeding, up from less than 15 percent just one year ago. HHC’s goal is to triple that number by the year 2010. HHC will continue to make formula available for women who prefer formula or are unable to breastfeed.