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Hudson Valley Hospital Center achieves Baby Friendly designation


Hudson Valley Hospital Center, Cortlandt Manor, N.Y., has been named a “Baby Friendly” Hospital.

On Feb. 1, Baby Friendly USA, a leader in the movement to promote breast-feeding and infant health, recognized HVHC as the fourth hospital in New York State to earn the designation.

The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, sponsored by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund, seeks to improve infant health by implementing a global best-practices program.

Baby-Friendly hospitals provide guidance in helping parents to make informed choices about how to feed and care for their babies.

“Hudson Valley Hospital Center’s expertise with regard to breast-feeding initiatives, unique and groundbreaking approaches to lactation, and commitment by medical staff and nursing staff were all well received by the surveyors during their visit here,’’ John Federspiel, president of HVHC, said in a news release. “I congratulate Sabrina Nitkowski-Keever, director of maternal/child health, and Linda LeMon, lactation specialist, and the entire department of obstetrics staff for their extraordinary efforts.”

Nitkowski-Keever, RN, and LeMon, RN, IBCLC, said the designation was a two-year journey that involved the entire staff in making changes to improve the maternity department’s breast-feeding support programs.

“We have been pursuing the designation for the last two years, and the response has really been excellent,” LeMon said in the release. “It’s one of the projects we are most proud of. We are actually impacting the health of our community.”

Nitkowski-Keever said with the nation’s rise in childhood obesity, it is more important than ever that healthy eating begins at birth.

Studies have shown breast-feeding is known to fight disease, lower sick care visits and hospitalizations, and help develop strong bonds between mother and child. Evidence has demonstrated that breast-feeding also helps regulate respiration, temperature, glucose, and heart rates for babies, and helps speed childbirth recovery for moms as well as helping to fight obesity later in life.

“It’s very exciting to be part of a change in culture,” Nitkowski-Keever said in the release. “We are proud of our commitment to offering the resources necessary for moms to make informed decisions about the health of their babies. The program has increased breast-feeding rates both in the hospital and at home, with 90% of babies now breast-fed when they leave the hospital.”

Baby-Friendly hospitals and birth centers uphold the WHO International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes by offering education and educational materials that promote human milk rather than other infant food or drinks, and by refusing to accept or distribute free or subsidized supplies of breast milk substitutes, nipples and other feeding devices. In addition to focusing on making breast-feeding a viable option for new mothers, Baby-Friendly care encourages mothers to be with their newborns 24 hours a day. This promotes bonding, enhances feeding and weight gain, and improves sleep for both mother and child.

HVHC’s breast-feeding support programs also earned an award of excellence from New York State Health Commissioner Nirav Shah in April 2011. The hospital also offers a breast-feeding support group that meets on the first and third Wednesdays of each month and prenatal education classes, private consultations, telephone triage and a new class on what to expect for grandmothers.

LEARN MORE about the breast-feeding programs at Hudson Valley Hospital Center at


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