Grants Help Lee Health Hospitals Enhance Processes that Support Breastfeeding

Hospitals Pursuing Baby-Friendly USA’s 4-D Pathway to Baby-Friendly Designation

(Fort Myers, Fla. – March 13, 2017) --- Cape Coral Hospital, Gulf Coast Medical Center and HealthPark Medical Center have each been awarded $20,000 by the Florida Department of Health to initiate the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding criteria of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The goal of the 10 steps is to implement and enhance maternity care practices that support and promote breastfeeding. The Lee Health hospitals are pursuing The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative’s (BFHI) Baby-Friendly USA’s 4-D Pathway to Baby-Friendly Designation.

The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding are:

  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.

BFHI is a WHO/UNICEF program that encourages and recognizes hospitals that offer optimal promotion and support for breastfeeding, including supportive hospital policies and practices, staff education and post-discharge community referrals. “The three Lee Health hospitals received the grant, and each is initiating the steps to earn this national designation,” explains Carol Lawrence, PhD, supervisor, perinatal practice, education, research and lactation. “But, we are also approaching this as a system—ensuring that Lee Physician Group practices, including obstetricians/gynecologists and pediatricians are promoting and supporting breastfeeding.”

A growing body of evidence points to breastfeeding as critical to improved health outcomes of mothers and babies. Benefits of breastfeeding include:

  • Breast milk provides all of the nutrients a baby needs for the first 6 months of life.
  • Breastfed babies have fewer allergies, stomach problems, respiratory and ear infections.
  • Breast milk is free and convenient; supply is always available and it is always the perfect temperature.
  • Breastfeeding is good for the environment—there is no trash to discard.
  • Moms who breastfeed have a lower risk of breast cancer.

Lawrence says the three hospitals have been incorporating the evidence-based steps, which are having a positive effect on the community.

About Lee Health

Since the opening of the first hospital in 1916, Lee Health has been a health care leader in Southwest Florida, constantly evolving to meet the needs of the community. A non-profit, integrated health care services organization, Lee Health is committed to the well-being of every individual served, focused on healthy living and maintaining good health. Staffed by caring people, inspiring health, services are conveniently located throughout the community in four acute care hospitals, two specialty hospitals, outpatient centers, walk-in medical centers, primary care and specialty physician practices and other services across the continuum of care. Learn more at

Press contact information
Pat Dolce
Public Affairs Specialist
Phone: 239-343-4801
Cell: 239-989-2758
After Hours: 239-789-5786
Fax: 239-343-4802

Visit us on the web at:

Visit us on Twitter at:

Visit us on Facebook at: