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Metro Newsroom

City and Hospitals Sign Policies to Encourage Breastfeeding

Tuesday February 8, 2011

Mayor Greg Fischer and representatives from Louisville’s birthing hospitals - Baptist Hospital East, Norton Hospital, Norton Suburban Hospital and University of Louisville Hospital- today signed policies to encourage and to make it easier for women to breastfeed their babies.

Funds to support the new breastfeeding initiatives are being provided by the federal $7.9 million Communities Putting Prevention to Work grant that Louisville received last March to further the work of the Mayor’s Healthy Hometown Movement.

“Breastfeeding has many well documented health advantages both for the baby and mother,” said Mayor Fischer. “It’s the gold standard for infant feeding.”

Mayor Fischer signed policies instituting the Louisville Metro Government Employee Breastfeeding Support Program. “We want to do all we can to support breastfeeding among our employees,” said Fischer. “I hope that other employers will follow our lead.”

Under the program 13 “lactation stations” have been established at metro government work sites. These are private rooms where employees can express breast milk during normal break times of the workday. If employees prefer they may also express breast milk at private locations agreed upon in consultation with their supervisor. Employees may also use personal leave time or may make up time as negotiated with their supervisors.

The Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness will also lend metro government employees electric breast pumps. Metro employees will also have access to free breastfeeding classes offered by the Department of Public Health and Wellness, other educational materials, and if needed, free one-on-one breastfeeding consultation.

Hospital representatives also signed standardized hospital breastfeeding policies for each of Louisville’s birthing hospitals. Each of the hospitals will further support and encourage breastfeeding through education of the women who give birth at the hospital. Comprehensive breastfeeding information outlining the benefits of breastfeeding over formula feeding will be clearly conveyed to each mother and each mother will be encouraged to feed her baby only breast milk, unless otherwise medically indicated.

While in the hospital, mothers are to be allowed and encouraged to keep infants in their hospital rooms to facilitate breastfeeding. After discharge from the hospital, mothers will also have access to outpatient lactation services provided by the hospitals.

“Baptist Hospital East started the first free outpatient breastfeeding clinic in the city on November 26, and has helped nearly 50 new mothers,” said Baptist East Vice President Karen Profitt Newman. “Our expert staff includes five International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who guide new mothers in this important skill – both in person and by phone. The service is open to anyone in the community, not just our own patients at Baptist East, and the response has been remarkable.”

The clinic is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m., and available to both Baptist East patients and the general public. New mothers can call (502) 897-8888 to schedule an appointment, or can call (502) 259-3600 for breastfeeding advice.

To further support the breastfeeding experience beyond the hospital stay, Norton Healthcare announced the opening of a new outpatient center for lactation services, based at Kosair Children’s Medical Center – Brownsboro. The new center offers lactation counseling and assistance to breastfeeding mothers and nutritional services for their babies. The center’s hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Lactation assistance is available for mothers with any questions or issues related to the breastfeeding experience, via phone consultations and/or scheduled outpatient visits. Services are available to any mother in the community, regardless of where she gave birth. The center’s medical director is Elizabeth M. Doyle, M.D., internal medicine and pediatrics, Norton Medical Associates. To access lactation center services, breastfeeding mothers should call (502) 629-1234 or, toll-free, (888) 4-U-NORTON/ (888) 486-6786.

“Lifelong good health begins in the womb with healthy mothers and in the neonatal and infant stages with breastfeeding,” said Deborah A. Ballard, M.D., director of Norton Healthcare’s Centers for Prevention & Wellness. “Breastfeeding is a great way to ensure better health for baby and mother, and has good effects that last throughout life for both. Norton Healthcare continues to emphasize best outcomes for our moms and babies, and is delighted to support new mothers throughout their breastfeeding experience with our new outpatient center for lactation services, which will further support the breastfeeding experience beyond the hospital stay,” Dr. Ballard concluded.

“As a teaching hospital, we are proud to share our innovations with other hospitals in Metro Louisville and across the state," said Mary Jane Adams, University of Louisville Hospital Chief Nursing Officer. "Four years ago, we implemented these guidelines, along with our skin-to-skin nurturing program called Kangaroo Care. We know it works, because we've seen results. Our breast feeding rates have increased 50%. For babies this means better protections against Sudden Infant Death, asthma, diabetes, obesity, and respiratory infections. For moms this means decreased risk for breast cancer, ovarian cancer, heart disease and postpartum depression. I applaud this unified effort to give our most precious citizens a healthy start on life."

“I am delighted that our birthing hospitals are stepping up to strongly support breastfeeding in our community,” said Mayor Fischer.

“I want to thank Mayor Fischer for instituting these policies to support breastfeeding by metro employees. I also want to thank Baptist Hospital East, Norton Hospital, Norton Suburban Hospital and University of Louisville Hospital,” said Dr. Matt Zahn, Acting Director of the Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness. “With more than 13,200 births at Louisville’s four birthing hospitals in 2010, we are confident that the measures that the hospitals are taking to encourage and support breastfeeding will significantly increase breastfeeding rates in our community.”

Breastfeeding rates for Kentucky are among the lowest in the nation. Kentucky has a rate of 59% of women initiating breastfeeding after giving birth compared to the national rate of 75%. The rate for Louisville is only slightly better than that for Kentucky at 66%. Kentucky also has one of the lowest rates of women who continue to breastfeed after 6 months with a rate 29.6% compared to 43% nationally.

Studies have shown that babies who have been breastfed are less likely to develop allergies, have fewer ear infections, and have better dental health. Breastfed babies are also less likely to grow up over-weight or develop diabetes later in life.

Breastfeeding also has benefits for the mother, facilitating a closer bond between mother and child while supporting weight loss after the birth of the child. Studies have also shown that women who breastfed have fewer pre-menopausal cancers and less incidence of osteoporosis later in life.

Last month U.S. Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin issued a “Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding” outlining steps that can be taken to remove some of the obstacles faced by women who want to breastfeed their babies. Among the Surgeon General’s recommendations are for hospitals to become more baby friendly by supporting and encouraging breastfeeding and for employers to provide women with break time and private space to express breast milk.

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