City Now Boasts Two Labor and Delivery Centers with Baby-Friendly Status

March 21, 2016

Chicago – Presence Saint Joseph Hospital has been recognized as Chicago’s second Baby-Friendly Hospital, representing another step forward in addressing Chicago’s childhood obesity epidemic. As part of a multisector approach towards childhood obesity prevention that includes maternal and infant health and nutrition, the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children (CLOCC) has provided training and technical assistance to Presence Saint Joseph and other Chicago hospitals working toward Baby-Friendly status.

The designation, which is administered by Baby-Friendly USA, represents success in providing an optimal level of support for breastfeeding mothers and babies. Status is awarded to hospitals that integrate the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding into their standard of care in order to provide new mothers the information and support needed to initiate and sustain breastfeeding habits with their newborns. Presence Saint Joseph now stands alongside Advocate Trinity Hospital, which received designation in December, as Chicago’s two Baby-Friendly centers.        

“The baby friendly designation shows that our team of lactation experts, nurses, technicians and doctors are part of a system that educates, supports and helps achieve a very important step in a family’s life,” said Dr. Eden Takhsh, Chairman of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Medical Director of the OB/GYN residency program at Presence Saint Joseph Hospital. “To be recognized in such a prestigious manner lets our team know that we are on the right path. It also lets our patients know that we are a center of excellence when it comes to helping them achieve their goals of breastfeeding and more.”  

The ten policy and practice changes hospitals Presence Saint Josephmust adopt to receive designation include a commitment to help mothers initiate breast feeding within an hour of giving birth, the support of “rooming in” to allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day, providing infants no food or drink beyond breastmilk unless medically necessary and the training of all healthcare staff in the skills necessary to implement Baby Friendly policy.    

Recent evidence suggests a lower likelihood of obesity among children who were breastfed, along with many other health benefits. Data collected by the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) and Chicago Public Schools in 2010-11 revealed obesity rates as high as 1-in-5 for kindergartners and more than 1-in-4 for 6th graders. Adoption of Baby-Friendly’s ten-step process is a tactic outlined in CLOCC’s Blueprint for Accelerating Progress in Childhood Obesity Prevention in Chicago. 

“When initiated at the earliest opportunity, sustained exclusively for six months, and maintained while introducing solid foods, breastfeeding has been shown to contribute to a healthy growth trajectory,” said Dr. Adam Becker, CLOCC Executive Director. “Presence Saint Joseph’s success in achieving Baby-Friendly Hospital status means a great deal for the City. It’s exciting that families in Chicago now have more opportunities to choose hospitals where breastfeeding is actively and explicitly encouraged and where they will have access to the highest level of breastfeeding support and care. We believe this is just the beginning of an important culture shift in the City’s hospitals.”

Presence Saint Joseph is the 10th labor and delivery center in Illinois to obtain Baby-Friendly status. An additional 13 medical facilities in Chicago are engaged in the certification track. The BHFI was created in 1991 by the World Health Organization and UNICEF to foster maternity care practices that promote and support breastfeeding. Today, over 20,000 maternity and infant care facilities in 152 countries, including 337 in the United States, are designated as Baby-Friendly.  

In addition to Presence Saint Joseph and Advocate Trinity, the following Chicago hospitals are currently working toward Baby-Friendly designation:

Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center • Mercy Hospital and Medical Center • Mount Sinai Medical Center • Norwegian American Hospital • Prentice Women’s Hospital • Presence Resurrection Medical Center • Presence Saints Mary & Elizabeth Hospital • Rush University Medical Center • John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County • Saint Anthony Hospital • Swedish Covenant Medical Center • University of Chicago Medical Center • University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center

The Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children (CLOCC) is a nationally recognized childhood obesity prevention program housed at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. Its mission is to confront the childhood obesity epidemic by promoting healthy and active lifestyles for children throughout the Chicago metropolitan area. CLOCC creates and sustains the types of multi-sector collaboration recommended by our nation’s health leaders. Currently, CLOCC has over 3,000 participants representing over 1,300 organizations.