FREEHOLD — New Jersey Health and Senior Services Commissioner Mary E. O’Dowd today joined with CentraState Medical Center in Freehold to convene a roundtable discussion about how health care providers can increase the number of women who exclusively breastfeed in New Jersey.
A mother who recently delivered a baby at CentraState Medical Center participated in the roundtable along with maternal and child health experts and health care leaders.
“The first few days in the hospital are critical in supporting mothers who want to breastfeed so they can be successful,” said O’Dowd. “With the assistance of health care providers, we can work to improve New Jersey’s exclusive breastfeeding rates so more babies can obtain the well-documented health benefits and nutrients in breast milk. For example, infants who are exclusively breastfed for nine months have a 30% reduced risk of being overweight.”
In New Jersey, most babies—75 percent—are breastfeed at birth, but by the time they are discharged from the hospital, half have already have been given formula and by 12 months only 24 percent are breastfed.
“At CentraState Medical Center, we want to help all new moms make the best informed decision on how to feed their newborn,” said John T. Gribbin, president and CEO, CentraState Healthcare System. “Our goal is to educate new moms on optimal nutrition and bonding with their baby. Feedback from both new moms and our staff has shown that the Baby Friendly program has been successful. For example, new moms say that skin to skin contact immediately after delivery and feeding on demand helps them to be more in tune with their baby’s needs.”
Research shows that hospital policies specifically designed to support breastfeeding can dramatically increase exclusive breastfeeding rates, which is when the infant only receives breast milk, resulting in reduced risk of childhood obesity, decreased incidence of infectious diseases and other chronic diseases. Hospitals have opportunities to implement practices in labor, delivery, postpartum care and discharge planning that can protect, promote and support breastfeeding and improve the success rate among women who want to breastfeed.
Topics discussed at the panel included how to remove barriers to breastfeeding, steps providers can take to encourage moms to breastfeed and resources in the community that can support mothers who are breastfeeding after hospital discharge.
The roundtable also focused on New Jersey’s efforts to promote the Baby Friendly Hospitals Initiative, which is a World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF program that recognizes hospitals that promote and support breastfeeding, by implementing appropriate policies, practices and staff education.
“The Unites States has 119 Baby Friendly hospitals and birthing center, but New Jersey has none,” said O’Dowd.
Earlier this year, the Department awarded 10 maternity hospitals with $10,000 grants to support their implementation of the Baby Friendly Hospitals Initiative.
“I look forward to announcing the first Baby Friendly hospital in New Jersey,” the Commissioner added.
Hospitals that received funding to implement the initiative include:
- AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center in Pomona
- Capital Health in Trenton
- CentraState Medical Center in Freehold
- Cooper University Hospital in Camden
- Hunterdon Healthcare System in Flemington
- Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune
- Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center in Camden
- Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick
- Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston
- South Jersey Regional Medical Center in Vineland
In order to achieve Baby Friendly Status, hospitals need to fulfill the following ten steps:
- Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff
- Train all health care staff in skills necessary to implement this policy
- Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding
- Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth
- Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they are separated from their infants
- Give newborn infants no food or drink other than breast milk, unless medically indicated
- Practice “rooming in”– allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day
- Encourage breastfeeding on demand
- Give no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants
- Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic
These ten hospitals who received grants have formed an informal collaborative called the New Jersey Baby-Friendly Hospital Coalition to share best practices.
Funding for the New Jersey Baby Friendly efforts was provided by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to DHSS as part of its efforts to ensure hospitals are promoting breastfeeding. The goal of this 18-month quality improvement initiative is to increase exclusive breastfeeding rates, prevent obesity and improve health outcomes.
The Department’s Division of Family Health Services’ website provides surveillance of breastfeeding trends and best practice models, such as the CDC’s Guide to Breastfeeding Interventions, and links to resources and local support services. Additionally, the website has a report that provides information on New Jersey hospitals and breastfeeding and provides parents with the ability to compare hospitals so they can consider this information when choosing where they will deliver their babies. The comparative report on breastfeeding contains a questionnaire for hospitals to self-evaluate their breastfeeding practices and they can use the results to make improvements in the quality of the breastfeeding services they provide. To view these resources, visit http://nj.gov/health/fhs/newborn/feed.shtml.
Connect with NJTODAY.NET
Join NJTODAY.NET's free Email List to receive occasional updates delivered right to your email address!