Good News for Breastfeeding in New York Hospitals
New York City public hospitals issued a press release today, stating that they will “exclude free baby formula samples from gift bags to new mothers, will ban formula promotion materials from labor and delivery units and will encourage initiation of breastfeeding in the baby’s first hour as part of a campaign to increase exclusive breastfeeding and improve infant health.”
The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation’s breastfeeding program is set to include:
* New gift bags for moms with a breast milk bottle cooler, disposable nursing pads, breastfeeding tips and an “I eat at mom’s” baby t-shirt;
* Education sessions starting early in pregnancy about the benefits of breast milk;
* Breastfeeding coaches who provide one-on-one lactation support to moms at the bedside to help initiate breastfeeding within one hour of delivery;
* Promoting breastfeeding on demand by having moms and babies stay in the same room until discharge;
* Making available hospital-grade electric breast pumps to moms whose newborn must remain in the hospital;
* Distribution of free personal breast pumps to eligible moms who have no health insurance;
* Ongoing peer counseling and support groups for breastfeeding moms after they leave the hospital.
However, HHC will still make formula available to women who choose to breastfeed or “are unable to breastfeed for medical reasons.” The hospital group hopes to triple the number of women who are exclusively breastfeeding on discharge by 2010. The Wall Street Journal reports that other hospitals have gotten rid of the gift bags altogether, including Brigham and Women’s in Boston, and Kaiser Permanente facilities in Northern California. Some states have attempted to pass bills banning the bags, but formula makers have lobbied against the change and none of these bills have passed.
The International Breastfeeding Symbol blog has more on this as well.