Holyoke Medical Center Receives Baby-friendly Designation

HOLYOKE — Baby-Friendly USA announced that Holyoke Medical Center (HMC) has received designation as a baby-friendly birth facility as part of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative.

HMC is the first, and currently only, hospital to receive this recognition in the Pioneer Valley. This international award recognizes birth facilities that offer breastfeeding mothers the information, confidence, and skills needed to successfully initiate and continue breastfeeding their babies.

Holyoke Medical Center has been working toward this designation since 2011, when the hospital made major clinical practice changes that collectively support breastfeeding, including educating all maternity staff, in-patient mothers through prenatal care to after discharge, and, at the community level, offices for midwifery, obstetrics, and pediatrics.

“We are very proud to have achieved this baby-friendly designation, which is the result of our Birthing Center’s dedicated team of physicians, nurses, and staff, who provide the gold standard of care to our patients,” said Spiros Hatiras, president and CEO of Holyoke Medical Center and Valley Health Systems Inc. “Education and support are critical tools in such an endeavor, and we are committed to leading the way.”

As part of this five-year designation, Holyoke Medical Center will establish a data-tracking system to collect and maintain statistics related to Baby-Friendly USA’s “Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding,” and will report on this information annually. The aim is to improve, through optimal feeding, the nutritional status, growth, and development — as well as survival — of infants and young children.

Baby-Friendly USA Inc. is the U.S. authority for the implementation of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, a global program sponsored by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The initiative encourages and recognizes hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for breastfeeding mothers and their babies.

There are more than 20,000 designated baby-friendly hospitals and birth centers worldwide. Currently there are 305 active baby-friendly hospitals and birth centers in the U.S., including seven in Massachusetts. The baby-friendly designation is given after a rigorous on-site survey. The award is maintained by continuing to practice the Ten Steps as demonstrated by quality processes. For more information on the U.S. Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, visit www.babyfriendlyusa.org.

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