ALBUQUERQUE, NM – Last week, Presbyterian Hospital kicked
off a global initiative to promote and support breastfeeding. The Baby-Friendly
Hospital Initiative will focus on improving the quality of maternal and infant
care at Presbyterian Hospital by creating an exceptional experience for
families throughout pregnancy and childbirth.
The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative was launched by the
World Health Organization and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in
1991 to encourage and recognize hospitals and birthing centers that offer an
optimal level of care for infant feeding and mother/baby bonding. The goal is
to promote exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of an infant’s
Currently, 81.5 percent of New Mexico mothers initiate
breastfeeding but only 22.8 percent of babies are exclusively breastfed at six
months of age. Studies have shown that exclusive breastfeeding for the first
six months reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, asthma, obesity,
juvenile diabetes and infections, and benefits mother and baby overall.
"Breastfeeding is the best prevention strategy," said Carol
L’Esperance, RN, Presbyterian Lactation Care Manager. "Exclusive breastfeeding
is the first and most vital step toward increasing the health of newborns,
preemies and even mothers."
Becoming a Baby-Friendly facility is a comprehensive,
detailed and thorough journey toward providing exceptional evidence-based
maternity care, and Presbyterian Hospital is taking steps to earn this
designation. Over the next two years, Presbyterian Hospital will establish the
highest standard possible for the protection, promotion and support of
breastfeeding, along with following the Ten Steps of Successful Breastfeeding
as defined by Baby-Friendly USA, a not-for-profit organization that is the
accrediting body for the Baby-Friendly designation.
Mothers who exclusively breastfeed in the hospital are much
more likely to continue once they go home. A study conducted in Switzerland by
UNICEF shows children born in Baby-Friendly facilities are more likely to be
breastfed for a longer time, improving overall health and wellness. With a
number of support services in place, including having international
board-certified lactation consultants available, mother-baby skin-to-skin
contact after delivery, 24-hour rooming-in, outpatient lactation services, and
breastfeeding education for physicians and staff, Presbyterian is well on the
way to becoming a Baby-Friendly facility.
For more information on Baby-Friendly USA, visit its
About Presbyterian Healthcare Services
Healthcare Services exists to improve the health of patients, members and the
communities we serve. Presbyterian was founded in New Mexico in 1908, and is
the state’s only private, not-for-profit healthcare system. Presbyterian offers
eight hospitals, a statewide health plan and a growing multi-specialty medical
group. Presbyterian is the second largest private employer in New Mexico with
more than 9,500 respected employees and growing.