NORTHAMPTON — Cooley Dickinson has been awarded the Baby-Friendly designation by Baby-Friendly USA, a certification program for hospitals. Baby-Friendly USA is part of a global initiative led by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund.
The award recognizes the implementation of the “Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding” and the “International Code of Marketing Breast-milk Substitutes” at Cooley Dickinson Hospital, which are evidence-based practices that have been shown to increase breastfeeding initiation and duration.
Cooley Dickinson is the second facility in Western Mass. and the 12th in Massachusetts to receive the designation.
“I am extremely proud of the Childbirth Center staff,” said Margaret-Ann Azzaro, director, Medical Surgical & Childbirth Services. “Earning Baby-Friendly designation represents a commitment from the entire staff to integrate evidenced-based practices to increase breastfeeding initiation and duration. It is an exciting time. This designation also recognizes teamwork and our compliance with the rigorous standards developed to improve health outcomes for the moms, babies, and families in our community.”
Annie Heath, certified nurse midwife and co-medical director of Cooley Dickinson Medical Group Women’s Health, said this designation is about “our unwavering commitment to high quality care for mothers and babies.”
Baby-Friendly is a designation that recognizes hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for breastfeeding mothers and their babies.
Based on the “Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding,” this award recognizes birth facilities that offer breastfeeding mothers the information, confidence, and skills needed to successfully initiate and continue breastfeeding their babies.
“As a pediatrician, I recognize and support exclusive breastfeeding, early skin-to-skin contact, and the other Baby-Friendly recommendations,” said Dr. Estevan Garcia, Cooley Dickinson Health Care’s chief medical officer. “The efforts by our labor and delivery leadership and staff to achieve the Baby-Friendly designation have made Cooley Dickinson the premier hospital in Western Mass. for expecting parents and families.”
Studies have shown that breastfed babies are less likely to suffer from serious illnesses, such as asthma and respiratory and ear infections. Adults who were breastfed are less likely to develop risk factors for heart disease, including high blood pressure and obesity. Mothers who breastfeed appear to have lower risk than those who didn’t breastfeed of developing heart disease, breast cancer, and ovarian cancer, among other conditions, in later life.