NYC Health + Hospitals/North Central Bronx has been designated a Baby-Friendly ® Hospital for its program to encourage new mothers to breastfeed their infants — an effort led by PAGNY Board member Dr. Chinyere Anyaogu, Vice Chairperson of the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Women’s Health.
The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative is a global program sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to encourage and recognize hospitals that emphasize the importance of breastfeeding for new mothers. Hospitals that receive the designation must go through a rigorous on-site survey to demonstrate that the entire hospital buys into the program.
“This award shows our commitment to breastfeeding,” Dr. Anyaogu said, “It’s a group thing. There’s very intense training for the whole hospital. It teaches the hospital to encourage new mothers to breast feed or to prepare formula correctly.”
Dr. Anyaogu said she could not say enough about the importance of breastfeeding for the health of infants and their mothers. “When you breastfeed, you get a higher level of understanding of your baby,” she said. “It helps regulate the temperature of the baby and reduces stress for both mother and baby. Over time, it increases a baby’s test scores and decreases the likelihood of getting diabetes, cardiology diseases and allergies. It also decreases the number of days a mother has to take off from work and helps mothers get back to their pre-pregnancy weight.”
NYC Health + Hospitals/North Central Bronx received the prestigious designation after implementing the initiative’s “Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding,” which include communicating a breastfeeding policy to the hospital staff, training the hospital staff to implement the policy, helping new mothers initiate breastfeeding within an hour of birth, letting mothers and infants remain together 24 hours a day and encouraging breastfeeding on demand.
“As you well know, achievement of the Baby-Friendly designation is not an easy task,” Trish MacEnroe, Executive Director of Baby-Friendly USA, wrote to NYC Health + Hospitals/North Central Bronx notifying the hospital of the designation. “The criteria are challenging, as they are designed to set the standards for the best possible breastfeeding support for mother and infant in the maternity setting, insuring high quality of care in this critical area of mother/baby care.”
Dr. Anyaogu thanked the hospital’s leadership — including Dr. Michael Zinaman, OB/GYN Department Chair, Dr. Machelle Allen, Chief Medical Officer of NYC Health + Hospitals, and Maureen Pode, Chief Executive Officer of NYC Health + Hospitals/North Central Bronx — for their support in her efforts to achieve Baby-Friendly status.
The designation was made last year and NYC Health + Hospitals/North Central Bronx held a ceremony in February to unveil its Baby-Friendly plaque. The hospital is the fifth hospital in New York City and the second in the Bronx to receive the designation.