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Times of the Islands Magazine

The Advantages of a Baby-Friendly Hospital and the Benefits of Breastfeeding

Feb 29, 2024 08:00AM ● By Lee Health

Photo by Aditya Romansa on Unsplash

In 2007, less than 3% of births in the United States took place in approximately 60 baby-friendly designated facilities. In 2022, those numbers rose to 27% of births in more than 600 baby-friendly designated facilities, and they continue to climb.

Joyce Arand, System Director for Women’s Services at Lee Health 

Both Cape Coral Hospital and HealthPark Medical Center are proud to be baby-friendly hospitals, certified by Baby-Friendly USA Inc. The U.S. guidelines and evaluation criteria are based on the global criteria for the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative.

Baby-friendly hospitals must implement the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding and be compliant with the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes.

The baby-friendly certification lasts for five years and ensures that mothers will leave with the confidence and skills needed to successfully initiate and continue breastfeeding their babies. Additionally, patients who’ve made an informed decision to use formula will be provided with feeding instructions and information on safe preparation.

Over the past 15 years, the percentage of babies “ever breastfed” has increased from 74% to 82%, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). 

Breastfeeding provides many health benefits for both babies and mothers. It aids in growth and development for the baby, protects against certain illness, and supports a specialized bond between mom and infant. Breastfeeding mothers experience a reduction in the risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure. 

According to the CDC, breastfed babies have a lower risk of asthma, obesity, type 1 diabetes and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Breastfed babies are less likely to have ear infections and stomach bugs. Breastmilk can also support the development of a strong immune system. 

Lee Health Baby-Friendly Hospitals

The Lee Health team at Cape Coral Hospital

Cape Coral Hospital is equipped with state-of-the-art Family Birth Suites, which include a tub, birthing balls for use in labor, and a high-tech fetal monitoring system that allows patients to be up and walking during labor. Cape Coral Hospital is located at 636 Del Prado Blvd. S. in Cape Coral. 

“Being a baby-friendly hospital is very important to us,” said Nursing Director for the Women’s Care Center at Cape Coral Hospital Nancy Travis. “It highlights the hard work and dedication to excellent care that we provide to our community’s mothers and babies, and how important it is for mom to be set up for success when she leaves the hospital.”

HealthPark Medical Center features comprehensive OB/GYN services, including an OB emergency room and state-of-the-art Family Birth Suites. It has one of the busiest obstetric units in Florida and is co-located with Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, the only children’s hospital in the region. HealthPark Medical Center is located at 9981 S. HealthPark Dr. in Fort Myers.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to work with new moms and being a baby-friendly hospital helps highlight our commitment to the highest standard of patient care and it means a lot for our teams to be involved in one of the most precious moments of someone’s life,” said System Director for Women’s Services at Lee Health Joyce Arand. 

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