Honoring Mothers with a Breastfeeding Mothers' Bill of Rights and Annual Breastfeeding Recognition Party and Shower in Brooklyn

ALBANY, N.Y. (May 4, 2010) – On May 7, state and city officials will attend a baby shower at the Bedford Stuyvesant WIC Program to celebrate mothers' decision to breastfeed. The event, coinciding with Mothers' Day on Sunday, is Bedford Stuyvesant WIC Program's Annual Breastfeeding Recognition Party and Shower. This year's party will highlight several important achievements in the promotion and support of mothers' decisions to breastfeed.

"Mothers need to know that choosing to breastfeed is the healthiest way to feed their babies," State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D., said. "Research shows that babies gain many health benefits from breast milk, especially when mothers exclusively breastfeed for the first six months. Infants fed only breast milk have fewer episodes of acute illness in infancy and reduced risk of asthma, childhood leukemia, obesity, diabetes and other chronic illnesses later in life."

New York City Health Commissioner Thomas A. Farley, M.D., M.P.H., said, "Getting mothers to breastfeed exclusively for the first six months is a national health priority. We want to persuade more new moms to initiate breastfeeding – and we want to ensure that they continue breastfeeding for as long as possible."

What

Annual Breastfeeding Recognition Party and Shower

When

11 a.m.-2 p.m. Friday, May 7, 2010

Where

1413 Fulton St., Brooklyn (718) 857-4268

Who

Representatives of the state and city health departments, leaders of the Bedford- Stuyvesant WIC program, breastfeeding mothers, and the New York Statewide Breastfeeding Coalition

New York State and City health officials are working with hospitals to increase provider and staff knowledge of lactation and counseling skills in providing breastfeeding support; to improve hospital policies and maternity care practices; and to provide enhanced services to better support mothers who choose to breastfeed.

Along with Dr. Susan Vierczhalek from the New York Statewide Breastfeeding Coalition, Commissioners Daines and Farley noted that the Breastfeeding Mothers' Bill of Rights took effect May 1. This new law provides rights to mothers choosing to breastfeed before delivery, in the hospital and birthing facilities, and in the community once discharged from the hospital or birthing facility, including:

  • The right to information that is free of commercial interests;
  • The right to have her baby stay with her immediately after delivery to facilitate breastfeeding;
  • The right to ask that no bottles of formula or water be given to her baby;
  • The right to have 24-hour access to her baby with the right to breastfeed anytime; and
  • The right to refuse any gifts or take home packets containing formula.

All hospitals and birthing centers providing maternity care services in New York State will be required to publicly post the Breastfeeding Mothers' Bill of Rights and give it to all pregnant women attending prenatal childbirth education classes. Dr. Daines said, "Providing breastfeeding support to new mothers and families in hospitals is critical for the initiation of breastfeeding and sustaining breastfeeding after hospital discharge. We know many women are fighting an uphill battle to begin or continue breastfeeding in a society where breastfeeding is not always considered the norm for infant feeding. It's important that we work towards removing barriers to exclusive breastfeeding both in and out of the hospital."

According to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, New York State has met some of the Healthy People 2010 breastfeeding goals, with 76 percent of new mothers initiating breastfeeding and 29 percent continuing at 12 months. Efforts now are focused on creating supportive environments where women and their families can be successful to promote more exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months to maximize the benefits to the infant and mother. To achieve this, the state and city health departments are working with hospital staff to develop and implement recommended model hospital policies and practices consistent with the World Health Organization/UNICEF Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative principles.

Breastfeeding promotion and support is a significant priority of the State's WIC Program, which provides information and peer support to mothers. For 2008, nearly 74 percent of New York's WIC mothers initiated breastfeeding compared to 62 percent nationwide, and 41 percent of the State's WIC mothers breastfed for at least six months, compared to less than 27 percent nationwide. New York State's WIC Program is the third largest in the country, and serves more than 500,000 participants monthly, including more than 120,000 women and 122,000 infants.

For more information on breastfeeding, visit http://www.nyhealth.gov/community/pregnancy/breastfeeding/ . For more information about the supplemental nutrition program WIC, visit http://www.nyhealth.gov/prevention/nutrition/wic/.