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Phelps Among Top 10 Hospitals in NY for Highest Rates of Breastfeeding
(January 1, 2011) Phelps Memorial Hospital Center has been recognized by the New York State Department of Health as one of the top 10 hospitals statewide with the highest percentage of mothers who exclusively breastfeed their newborns. At Phelps, all new mothers receive encouragement and support for breastfeeding. Nurses assist them in the hospital, as do certified lactation consultants who can continue to help them after they go home with any problems or concerns that may arise.
Having established its Lactation Center in the mid-1990s, Phelps was committed to improving breastfeeding rates long before the release of guidelines issued by New York State. Women who deliver at Phelps are offered a free one-hour lactation consult after discharge, which encourages them to stick with their decision to breastfeed their babies.
Phelps also offers prenatal breastfeeding classes. According to the NYS Department of Health, hospital policies and procedures, staff training and quality of support provided to new mothers all play powerful roles in improving breastfeeding rates while in the hospital an d after discharge.
Barbara Bruno, Nursing Director of Maternal Health at Phelps said she is very proud of the recognition Phelps has received for its high percentage of mothers who breastfeed successfully. She admits though, that “more is needed in the way of support for nursing mothers in the workplace.” As an example of what can be done, Phelps makes electric breast pumps available to hospital staff who return to work but wish to continue breastfeeding.
According to Phelps’ lactation consultant Joann Gould, breastfed babies are generally healthier, stronger, have fewer hospital stays and are less likely to develop allergies, bronchitis, meningitis, asthma, ear infections and diabetes. Some research even suggests that breastfed babies develop higher levels of intelligence. Infants who have had only a swab of colostrum (the first dose of milk from the breast) in their mouth for oral care were found to have lower infection rates.
“Benefits of breastfeeding for child a nd mother are many. Breast milk is known as ‘liquid gold’ because it has antibodies that moms pass on to their babies, like giving your child his first inoculation. Just as impressive are the benefits for mothers,” Gould says. “Women who breastfeed are less likely to develop breast, ovarian, and uterine cancer, less likely to suffer postpartum hemorrhaging, and can more quickly lose extra weight gained in pregnancy.”
Gould says she has “the best job in the world. With a little effort, encouragement, knowledge and support, breastfeeding can be a wonderful experience that nurtures the bond between mother and child.”
She reminds people that “breastfeeding is a completely ‘green’ activity. Breast milk doesn’t have to be manufactured and it doesn’t have to be transported, so it has a zero-carbon footprint. And it’s free!” says Gould. She adds that”More programs like the one at Phelps, are needed to educate women about the many benefits of breastfeeding and support them in nu rsing their babies.”