Event Coincides with National Breastfeeding Month
SYRACUSE, N.Y. – St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center officially opened a new employee breastfeeding room on August 12, at 2 p.m. in the hospital’s former operating room suite on the second floor.
The room is part of the ongoing Lactation Support Program for employees that helps women who return to work continue to breastfeed their babies. The quiet, private space offers a comfortable place for women to pump breast milk during the day.
Designated a “Baby Friendly” hospital by the World Health Organization, St. Joseph’s leads the way in Central New York when it comes to supporting breastfeeding. It is the only Central New York hospital to receive the designation. At the time St. Joseph’s first was designated only 77 hospitals in the country were on the list; New York State had just two other hospitals with the distinction.
The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) is a global program sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to encourage and recognize hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for lactation. The BFHI assists hospitals in giving breastfeeding mothers the information, confidence, and skills needed to successfully initiate and continue breastfeeding their babies and gives special recognition to hospitals that have done so.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, research shows that what happens in the hospital or birth center plays a crucial role in establishing breastfeeding and helping mothers to continue breastfeeding after leaving the birth facility.
Through the BFHI, St. Joseph’s promotes, protects and supports breastfeeding, following 10 steps outlined by UNICEF/WHO. These steps include everything from training both at the hospital and at home, to specific practices to help encourage mothers who want to breastfeed their infants. A full list of the steps may be found at http://www.babyfriendlyusa.org/.
“We often receive high praise for our encouragement and support of new mothers who wish to breastfeed their babies,” said Gael Gilbert, service line administrator of maternal/child services for St. Joseph’s. “Our skilled lactation consultants are available seven days a week to help new parents learn how to breastfeed, including that all-important moral support that is needed at the beginning when it can be a daunting task!”
Gilbert said at six, St. Joseph’s has the highest number of lactation consultants of any Syracuse hospital.