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Aren't All Maternity Hospitals "Baby Friendly?"

You may have heard that HealthAlliance Hospital (Kingston, NY) is a Baby Friendly Hospital.

You may have questions about what that means. Aren't all maternity hospitals "baby friendly?" While the health care workers, staff and executives at your nearby hospital may love babies and be friendly, "Baby Friendly" means something deeper and more important.

The Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) was formed to increase awareness and educate parents about the importance of breastfeeding, especially in the first hour after birth; to protect parents from predatory marketing and mis-education from hospital staff; to give parents all the professional support they might need as they begin their breastfeeding relationship; and to link families to breastfeeding support systems when they return home.

BFHI is founded on the ideal that all babies have the right to begin their life breastfeeding.

If after educating parents and allowing babies to initiate breastfeeding, the family decides to wean, then that is absolutely fine. Nobody is forcing you to breastfeed if you don't want to. The purpose of BFHI is to ensure that you are making an educated decision about how you feed your baby.

The BFHI decided on 10 principles which became "The Ten Steps To Successful Breastfeeding." and is adapted into "The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding for Hospitals," as outlined by United Nations International Child Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO.)

The 10 Steps as interpreted in the United States are:

  1. Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.

  2. Train all health care staff in skills necessary to implement this policy.

  3. Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.

  4. Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.

  5. Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they are separated from their infants.

  6. Give newborn infants no food or drink other than breastmilk, unless medically indicated.

  7. Practice rooming-in-- allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.

  8. Encourage breastfeeding on demand.

  9. Give no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants.

  10. Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic

A hospital goes through a several-year process of adopting the "Ten Steps" in coordination with BFHI.

This involves changing the organization of the hospital and the hospital policy. It's not an easy task to make institutional change. When an institution has been doing things one way for a while, there can be a lot of pushback to keep things the way they always have been.

One major difference is that Baby Friendly hospitals no longer receive promotional products such as formula, pacifiers and discharge bags. Formula is purchased in the same way every other hospital food is. Pacifiers are now purchased medical supplies and discharge bags are funded through the hospital marketing department.

Becoming Baby Friendly often involves making physical changes to the layout of the labor, delivery and postpartum ward. In a Baby Friendly hospital, there is no need for a traditional nursery and patient rooms may be reconfigured to be more comfortable under the new policies.

The biggest change is in the training that the staff receives. Every employee of a Baby Friendly Hospital is trained in the the Ten Steps. Training is adapted for each of the levels of service from Custodial to Food Service to Labor & Delivery to Lactation. The training focuses on breastfeeding as a normal process that is unremarkable and ordinary. It's how humans feed their babies.

When a hospital has made all the organizational and structural changes needed to adopt these principles, they are inspected and accredited. They become a "Baby Friendly Hospital."

In New York State, these hospitals have earned the Baby Friendly designation:

Bellevue Hospital Center

462 1st Ave & 27th Street

New York, NY 10016


Brooklyn Birthing Center

2183 Ocean Avenue

Brooklyn, NY 11229


Coney Island Hospital

2601 Ocean Parkway

Brooklyn, NY 11235


Elmhurst Hospital Center

79-01 Broadway

Elmhurst, NY 11373


Flushing Hospital Medical Center

4500 Parsons Blvd.

Flushing, NY 11355


Harlem Hospital Center

506 Lenox Avenue

New York, NY 10037-1802

(2008) Re-Designated 2018-2023

HealthAlliance Hospital – Broadway Campus

396 Broadway

Kingston, NY 12401


Jacobi Medical Center

1400 Pelham Parkway South

Bronx, NY 10461


Jamaica Hospital Medical Center

8900 Van Wyck Expressway

Jamaica, NY 11418


John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital

818 Ellicott Street

Buffalo, NY 14203


Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center

234 East 149th Street

Bronx, NY 10451


Long Island Jewish Forest Hills

102-01 66th Road

Forest Hills, NY 11375


Long Island Jewish Medical Center

270-05 76th Avenue

New Hyde Park, NY 11040


Metropolitan Hospital Center

1901 First Avenue

New York, NY 10029


Montefiore Jack D. Weiler Hospital – Einstein Campus

1825 Eastchester Road

Bronx, NY 10461


Montefiore Medical Center – Wakefield Hospital

600 East 233rd Street

Bronx, NY 10466


Mount Sinai South Nassau

One Healthy Way

Oceanside, NY 11572


New York Presbyterian/Queens

56-45 Main Street

Flushing, NY 11355


New York-Presbyterian/Hudson Valley Hospital

1980 Crompond Road

Cortlandt Manor, NY 10567

(01/13) Re-designated 2018-2023

Newark Wayne Community Hospital

1200 Driving Park Avenue

Newark, NY 14513-0111


NYC Health + Hospitals/North Central Bronx

3424 Kossuth Avenue

Bronx, NY 10467


NYU Langone Hospital

550 First Avenue

New York, NY 10016


NYU Winthrop Hospital

259 First Street

Mineola, NY 11501

(12/14) Re-Designation Pending

Phelps Hospital

701 N. Broadway

Sleepy Hollow, NY 10591


Queens Hospital Center

82-68 164th Street

Jamaica, NY 11432

(05/14) Re-Designated 2019-2024

Richmond University Medical Center

355 Bard Avenue

Staten Island, NY 10310


Rochester General Hospital

1425 Portland Ave

Rochester, NY 14621-3001

(2000) Re-Designated 2015-2020

St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center

50 Rte 25-A

Smithtown, NY 11787


St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center

301 Prospect Ave

Syracuse, NY 13203

(2009) Re-Designated 2019-2024

St. Peter’s Hospital

315 South Manning Blvd.

Albany, NY 12208


United Memorial Medical Center

127 North Street

Batavia, NY 14020


Unity Hospital

1555 Long Pond Road

Rochester, NY 14626


Woodhull Medical & Mental Health Center

760 Broadway

Brooklyn, NY 11206


What to Expect at a Baby Friendly Hospital

About HealthAlliance Hospital's Family Birth Place

HealthAlliance Hospital’s Family Birth Place

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