SLEEPY HOLLOW, N.Y. -- Phelps Hospital has always been known as a great place to have a baby. Now, it has officially joined the international ranks of “Baby-Friendly® Hospitals,” signifying an unmatched level of care and support for new mothers and their babies.
Phelps is now one of just 381 designated Baby-Friendly hospitals and birth centers across the United States, and one of more than 20,000 worldwide. Phelps is the 16th hospital in New York State and only the second hospital in the Hudson Valley to achieve this designation.
The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative is a global program created in 1991 by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund. The designation recognizes Phelps for offering new mothers the information, confidence and skills they need to succeed in breastfeeding and caring for their infants.
“Achieving the Baby-Friendly designation has taken four years of hard work by the entire maternity staff, as well as a major commitment on the part of the hospital,” said Dr. Lawrence Mendelowitz, director of the Department of Obstetrics/Gynecology at Phelps. “We are proud to have earned this award, but prouder still of providing the highest level of maternity care to our patients.”
Phelps has long had a commitment to midwifery and to natural childbirth, and has promoted breastfeeding as the best possible start for new babies and their mothers. In the mid-1990s, Phelps established a Lactation Center, staffed by lactation consultants who help new mothers breastfeed their infants in the hospital and at home. In 2011, Phelps was recognized as one of the top ten hospitals with the highest breastfeeding rates in New York State.
“Becoming Baby-Friendly means new parents are happier and more confident when they take their babies home,” said Yeva Posner, the lactation consultant at Phelps who has led the four-year effort to earn the designation. “Studies show that the support offered in the hospital experience strongly influences parents’ ability to successfully bond with their infant by helping them understanding the newborn’s needs and the positive effects breastfeeding.”
Another aspect of Baby-Friendly care is the emphasis placed on the importance of the connection between the mother and her newborn. “At Phelps, we encourage immediate skin-to- skin contact between mother and baby." said Posner. "We help them initiate breastfeeding right away in the delivery room and keep them together to promote the baby's normal biological transition to life outside the womb. We are committed to ensuring that all women who deliver at Phelps Hospital are offered the best care, education and support needed to give their babies a healthy start in life.”
For more information about maternity care at Phelps Hospital, call 914-366- 3382 or visit their website.