CORTLANDT MANOR, N.Y. — Hudson Valley Hospital Center was designated a "Baby Friendly" hospital by Baby Friendly USA, the accrediting body for the World Health Organization's initiative to encourage mothers to breastfeed their infants.
“We have been pursuing the designation for the last two years, and the response has really been excellent,” said Linda LeMon, board-certified lactation consultant at HVHC. “It’s one of the projects we are most proud of, we are actually impacting the health of our community," she said in a statement.
The hospital received news of the recognition in early February.
The Baby Friendly USA (BFUSA) initiative is part of a worldwide undertaking by WHO and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).
"With the correct information and the right supports in place, under normal circumstances, most women who choose to breastfeed are able to successfully achieve their goal," writes BFUSA on its website.
Hudson Valley Hospital Center is the only hospital in Westchester, Rockland or Putnam County to receive the designation. HVHC Director of Maternal/Child Health Sabrina Nitkowski-Keever said that up to 90 percent of babies are breastfed when they leave the hospital.
Hudson Valley Hospital Center officials say breastfeeding fights disease, lowers sick-care visits and hospitalizations, and helps develop the bond between mother and child. Evidence has demonstrated that breastfeeding also helps to regulate respiration, temperature, glucose and heart rates for babies, and helps speed childbirth recovery for moms as well as helping to fight obesity later in life. Breastfeeding is strongly recommended by the surgeon general of the United States, who issued a "Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding" in 2011.
WHO International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes directs Baby Friendly hospitals to offer education and educational materials that promote human milk rather than other infant food or drinks, and to refuse to accept or distribute free or subsidized supplies of breast milk substitutes, nipples and other feeding devices. Baby Friendly care also encourages mothers to be with their newborns 24 hours a day. HVHC officials said in a statement this promotes bonding, enhances feeding and weight gain, and improves sleep for both mother and child.
“It’s very exciting to be part of a change in culture," said Nitkowski-Keever. “We are proud of our commitment to offering the resources necessary for moms to make informed decisions about the health of their babies.”
“Hudson Valley Hospital Center’s expertise with regard to breastfeeding initiatives, unique and groundbreaking approaches to lactation, and commitment by medical staff and nursing staff were all well-received by the surveyors during their visit here,’’ said John Federspiel, president of Hudson Valley Hospital Center. “I congratulate Sabrina Nitkowski-Keever, director of Maternal/Child Health, and Linda LeMon, lactation specialist, and the entire Department of Obstetrics staff for their extraordinary efforts.”