NYC Health + Hospitals/Coney Island has an incredibly diverse population that makes culturally competent care for new mothers an essential. The hospital’s Breastfeeding Coordinator, Karen McGratty, informs an estimated 100 new moms a month about the benefits of breastfeeding and why it’s the optimal choice for their newborn’s good health.
“Breastfeeding carries many benefits for moms and their babies,” said McGratty, who holds a master’s degree in human lactation. It reduces the risk of acute infection and communicable diseases for newborns, and reduces the risks of breast and uterine cancer later in life for mothers.
NYC Health + Hospitals/Coney Island’s patient demographic largely consists of an immigrant population who want to breastfeed their babies. “We encourage and empower moms to breastfeed,” said McGratty. But if a new mother still chooses to give her baby formula, Coney Island Hospital teaches moms how to feed their babies formula safely.
As a member of the NYC Department of Health’s Collaborative on Breastfeeding Support, Coney Island Hospital is setting the standard for evidence based practice, giving moms the best possible support, motivation and information so they can make an informed choice on breastfeeding. The hospital also gives new mothers lactation lounge cards provided by the Brooklyn Borough President’s office, supporting a mother’s choice to breastfeed.
Women in New York State have the right to breastfeed in any location including the workplace. All employees must be given time and a place to breastfeed and/or pump.
Mothers are encouraged to exclusively breastfeed because they produce less milk if their baby is also drinking formula. Babies who become accustomed to a bottle are also less likely to want to breastfeed.
New mothers are taught how to pump their breast milk for later use. As required by Federal law, the pumps—along with other breastfeeding supports like lactation consultants — are covered by both private insurance and Medicaid.
Coney Island Hospital is in the process of obtaining Baby Friendly USA designation, a national effort to identify hospitals that support breastfeeding and keep mothers and newborns together as much as possible. There are six NYC Health + Hospitals across the system that have already received Baby Friendly USA designation.
As part of becoming more “baby friendly,” Coney Island Hospital offers 24-hour rooming-in for mothers and newborns. Sleeping in the same room creates an immediate connection and major psychological benefits for mother and child.
This article is part of a series about resources available to residents from NYC Health + Hospitals/Coney Island.