University Hospital

January 19, 2017

Contact: Rick Remington
Office: (973) 972-7527
Mobile: (973) 6991189

Newark Hospital awarded first Baby-Friendly Hospital in Essex County

New designation to result in improved outcomes for new mothers, babies born at University Hospital

NEWARK, NJ -- University Hospital was awarded the designation of "Baby-Friendly Hospital," culminating a four-year campaign to advocate and aggressively support breastfeeding within the hospital and the community as the healthy choice for newborn children and their mothers. University Hospital is the first hospital in Essex County to earn the coveted designation as a "Baby Friendly" hospital.

"It is exciting to say that approximately 85 to 95 percent of our mothers have initiated breastfeeding and their newborns now receive some form of breast milk prior to discharge," said Carl A. Kirton DNP, RN, MBA, Chief Nursing Officer, Patient Care Services at University Hospital." Most importantly, it reflects the commitment we have made to our community to provide quality service – the Gold Standard of care that our community is deserving of."

Launched in 1991 by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) is a global program to encourage mothers to nourish their newborn children with breast milk rather than formula or other substitutes. Breastfeeding has been demonstrated to lower the risks for certain diseases and to improve health outcomes for both mothers and their newborns.

In 2012, University Hospital was one of 89 hospitals nationally, and the only New Jersey hospital, selected through a competitive process to join a Best Fed Beginnings initiative managed by the nonprofit National Initiative for Children's Healthcare Quality. The initiative was designed to improve maternal care by targeting certain at-risk populations, including non-Hispanic African-Americans and patients insured under Medicaid or CHIP. Best Fed Beginnings was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

"Assistance was provided through learning sessions, webinars, and phone conferences with the goal of improving breastfeeding support in the U. S. hospitals," said Ingrid Bruce, Assistant Director OB/GYN and Labor and Delivery. "Baby-Friendly designation was the expected end product when the project ended. Improved health care outcomes and a decrease in health disparities are additional benefits, as this disproportionately affects our patients and can be improved for decades to come."

UH created a Breastfeeding Task Force led by Dr. Damali Campbell, an obstetrician and gynecologist.

"It takes a team and all of us have to work together so that we are on the same page when communicating with our mothers," said Bruce. "The efforts, however, extend beyond the team. The hospital as a whole fully supported our efforts."

Successful breastfeeding begins with prenatal education, she explained. Expectant mothers need to be
aware of the benefits of breastfeeding and understand exclusive breastfeeding, 24-hour rooming with their newborn, skin-to-skin contact and avoiding the use of pacifiers.

"If patients come in aware of the benefits, reinforcement in the hospital setting is so much more successful and achievement of some breastfeeding is likely to be more successful as well," Bruce said. "Mothers are in the hospital for two or three days, so education given prenatally is reinforced. We then make a community connection prior to discharge."

As part of the initiative, UH stopped accepting free or subsidized supplies of breast milk substitutes, nipples, or other feeding devices, no longer distributes free samples and avoids displaying commercial logos for formula and similar products. Instead, hospital staff provided educational materials promoting the use of human milk, rather than other food or drinks.

"Our reason is that it influences patient buying and we also know that formula is not best for the newborn," Bruce said. "We no longer give free formula on discharge. We no longer give patient handouts with other companies' names. We actually give our own bags with items such as T-shirts and bibs, and our crib cards now carry our logo. We are also purchasing formula as opposed to receiving free formula from formula companies."

The Baby-Friendly Team met weekly to manage education and awareness around the initiative, which included materials in English and Spanish that were displayed throughout the hospital; brochures, flyers and tent cards that were provided to new mothers; signage that was posted in breastfeeding rooms; and a continuous loop video that was shown on the lobby and cafeteria. The effort also included web and social media platforms.

To achieve the Baby-Friendly designation, hospitals are required to institute and then maintain a Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding program. Hospitals must:
1. Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff
2. Train all health care staff in the skills necessary to implement this policy
3. Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding
4. Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth
5. Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they are separated from their infants
6. Give infants no food or drink other than breast-milk, unless medically indicated
7. Practice rooming in - allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day
8. Encourage breastfeeding on demand
9. Give no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants
10. Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or birth center

UH has set a goal of raising the number of mothers who rely exclusively on breastfeeding to 60 percent. The current monthly trend is about 20 to 25 percent. However, 85 to 95 percent of mothers have initiated breastfeeding and incorporate some breast milk into their child's nutrition prior to discharge.

University Hospital is one of the nation's leading academic medical centers, and is the Level 1 Trauma Center for Northern New Jersey. Located at University Heights in Newark, New Jersey, University Hospital is a principal teaching hospital of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences and a regional resource for advanced services across many medical specialties. For more information about University Hospital, please visit