Montefiore Medical Center recently announced its plan to participate in "Latch On NYC," a city-wide initiative to support mothers who make the commitment to breastfeed their infants. The hospital will remove all formula advertising , promotions, and free samples from the maternity department and will only hand out samples when new mothers ask for them.
Montefiore Medical Center has announced its plan to participate in “Latch On NYC,” a new citywide initiative spearheaded by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) to support mothers who breastfeed their infants. Its commitment to Latch On—which coincides with National Breastfeeding Month—consists of educating pregnant women, new mothers and their families about the benefits of breastfeeding. Part of its program to encourage and sustain breastfeeding includes removing formula companies’ advertising, promotions and free samples from the maternity department.
“Montefiore has a longstanding commitment to promoting and supporting breastfeeding among our families and within our community,” says Deborah Campbell, MD, FAAP, director of the Division of Neonatology. “We have been working over several years to equip our staff with the information, skills, and resources to assist new mothers who choose to breastfeed with successfully initiating and sustaining breastfeeding.”
Formula promotion has been shown to decrease the duration of breastfeeding. Although the vast majority of women in New York City breastfeed after the birth of a child, two thirds of women switch to formula after only eight weeks, according to the New York City DOHMH. When a mother does not receive supplemental formula in the hospital, it has been found that this is the most influential factor in achieving a mother's goal to exclusively breastfeed. “Latch On NYC” is a program through which city hospitals voluntarily sign on to support a mother’s choice to breastfeed and limit the promotion of infant formula in their facilities.
While breastfeeding plays an important role in the bonding of a mother and child, it also has significant health benefits that cannot be achieved with formula, according to the World Health Organization. Breast milk contains antibodies that keep newborns from developing ear infections, pneumonia, and diarrhea. Formula does not provide the same boost for a child’s immune system. Research suggests that infants who were breastfed grow up with a decreased risk of developing high cholesterol, high blood pressure, asthma, and diabetes; likewise, mothers who breastfeed are less likely to develop breast and ovarian cancers. According to statistics from the NYC DOHMH, the Bronx experiences higher rates of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer compared to the city average.
Elements of Montefiore’s patient outreach include educating women about breastfeeding prior to delivery and making certain that an explanation of their options is devoid of commercial interests. Mothers also have the right to indicate that bottles and pacifiers of any kind are not to be used with their children while in the hospital. Additionally, Montefiore will not distribute formula to new mothers unless they request it and they have the opportunity to discuss their concerns about their baby’s feeding with a trained staff member. Lack of confidence and the perception that the mother’s colostrum (the protein-rich early milk that new mother’s produce while the baby’s digestive system matures) is not sufficient for the baby are the most common reasons new mothers or their family members ask for infant formula.
The purpose of “Latch On NYC" is to make sure women have all the facts regarding breastfeeding and aren’t pressured into using formula by corporate interests. “As with all health decisions, the best ones are made when a parent/family is fully informed,” Dr. Campbell says, “breastfeeding is one of those decisions.”
In addition to helping patients make the choice that’s right for them, Montefiore has begun offering lactation stations on its campuses for employees who breastfeed. Each station is a private room that contains a sink, refrigerator, and several chairs, providing a sanitary and secure location for associates to pump their breast milk.
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