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Western New York hospitals obtain highly regarded designations naming them breast feeding leaders

Western New York gets its first "baby-friendly" hospital designations
Posted at 6:00 PM, Jan 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-10 18:41:30-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Until December of 2019 Western New York had no “baby-friendly” hospitals.

The designation of “baby friendly” is given by Baby-Friendly USA and the World Health Organization. It’s also recognized by the New York State Department of Health.

It recognizes hospitals that undergo extensive efforts to implements the WHO’s Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding and the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes.

According to the list, The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding are:

  1. Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.
  1. Train all health care staff in the skills necessary to implement this policy.
  1. Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
  1. Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
  1. Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they are separated from their infants.
  1. Give infants no food or drink other than breast-milk, unless medically indicated.
  1. Practice rooming in – allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.
  1. Encourage breastfeeding on demand.
  1. Give no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants.
  1. Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or birth center.


Oishei Children’s Hospital was the first to receive the highly-regarded designation, and Mother-Baby Unit Nurse leader Cheryl Madge says it was not an easy process. It took the hospital nearly four years to accomplish.

“It is a huge accomplishment for our nurses, administrators, educators, and really for our entire community,” she said.

“As one of the only free-standing children’s hospitals that also means we’re a leader in the community and we take great pride in that.”

It was not just members of Madge’s unit that spent the time training, every person on the hospital staff underwent some sort of training in that time.

Then came the team from Baby-Friendly USA to ensure the training was up to par.

“It was a very extensive audit,” said Madge. “It was several days (where) they looked at all the practices we’re doing, they looked at charting, they did staff interviews, and from there they took about 8 weeks to let us know that we had received the designation.”

And a lot happens in the Mother-Baby unit when it comes to teaching new mothers, fathers, and grandparents.

“We are educating them on breastfeeding. If they have chosen to formula feed, we are educating on formula. We’re educating on safe sleep, we’re educating on diapering, we’re educating on carseat safety. We are educating on just normal parenting, postpartum depression, and just things to expect as they go home with their new baby.”

Gone are the days where babies were whisked away for testing and nursing right after birth. Skin-to-skin contact and general bonding with mothers are central aspects of the practices post-labor at Oishei Children’s Hospital.

“What we’re doing is, immediately, when the baby is born we do skin to skin with our moms and babies, if mom is not able to we do skin to skin with the dads or even the grandparents.”

“We do a lot of the testing and the tasks that used to be done in the nursery setting — right with mom.”

Oishei Children’s Hospital received its designation in December while United Memorial Medical Center in Batavia received its status in January 2019.