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HHC Bellevue Hospital Center—the Only Hospital in Five Boroughs Providing Banked Mothers’ Milk for New Moms with Difficulty Breastfeeding
HHC Bellevue Hospital Center—the Only Hospital in Five Boroughs Providing Banked Mothers’ Milk for New Moms with Difficulty Breastfeeding

For years doctors and other medical professionals have touted the myriad benefits of breast milk for newborns, but what happens when a new mom can’t produce milk to breastfeed her baby? HHC Bellevue Hospital Center is the only hospital in NYC to offer mothers’ milk from a milk bank to new moms with lactation issues.

Since the fall of 2014, Bellevue has helped new mothers by offering milk from Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast, a non-profit community milk bank located in Boston that provides donated, pasteurized human milk to babies in fragile health throughout the Northeast.

“Bellevue Hospital is leading the way in New York City in providing donor milk for the best nutrition and health outcomes for fragile premature babies,” said Naomi Bar-Yam, Ph.D., executive director of Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast, president-elect, Human Milk Banking Association of North America.

“New parents can be confident that they are receiving the best care possible.”

“Bellevue Hospital Center is a Regional Perinatal Center for New York City; we oversee 10 other NNICU’s (Neo-Natal Intensive Care Units),” said Elena Wachtel, MD, Co-Director of the Perinatal Center. “Being able to provide mothers’ milk for new moms who can’t provide it themselves helps to initiate feeding for our tiniest patients. Getting that donated milk allows the mom’s body the time she needs to begin lactating herself and helps the baby get started off on a healthier foundation.”

For a variety of reasons, a new mom may have initial issues breastfeeding her newborn(s). It could be because her baby was born prematurely, or she gave birth to multiples, or she is too sick to lactate or too injured to breastfeed. Now at Bellevue Hospital, when a new mom isn’t able to breastfeed, formula is no longer her only option. She still can provide her child the benefits of breast milk.

“Studies have shown that breastfeeding provides health benefits to both mother and baby,” Dr. Wachtel said. “Breastfed newborns are at lower risk of ear and respiratory infections, diabetes and obesity. Breastfeeding mothers have lower risks for breast and ovarian cancers, diabetes and postpartum depression.”

The new milk bank service is just another reason why delivering a baby at HHC Bellevue is a great choice. Here are some others:

• Bellevue’s Labor and Delivery department has fully equipped birthing rooms, where mom is in labor, delivers her baby, and recovers, with no need to move mom and newborn from place to place. It’s a dyad room where mom and baby room together.

• Our state-of-the-art Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit (NNICU) is a 20-bed, unit which incorporates the latest research-based design to promote a premature child’s development. High-tech incubators, private rooms where new parents can “room in” with their premature infants, and the first in NY State sound system to monitor sound from inside the incubator, are just some of the advancements.

• Patent ductus arteriosus repair (PDA) at bedside. The ductus arteriosus is a blood vessel that must close shortly after the baby is born. If it doesn’t close properly, which is called PDA, a procedure must be performed to close it. Bellevue offers this surgery right at the patient’s bed instead of having to go to an operating room.

• Bellevue also offers the specialized services for our premature infants, including: Developmental Care Specialists, who ensure an optimal environment for the neuromotor and neurobehavioral growth of the baby and Occupational Therapists who help this fragile population grow, feed successfully and develop with the ultimate goal of discharge to the home environment.‎ Nurses with specialized training stabilizing neonates for safe transfer to Bellevue from other facilities are also on staff as part of the STABLE program.

Bellevue has made a commitment to increase breastfeeding rates, with a goal of receiving a “Baby-Friendly” designation by Baby-Friendly USA. The initiative of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is designed to improve maternal and infant health by promoting breastfeeding. The initiative encourages hospitals and birthing centers to offer an optimal level of care for breastfeeding mothers and their babies by offering mothers the information, confidence and skills needed to successfully initiate and continue breastfeeding their babies.

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