Elmhurst Hospital flexes its maternal care unit with ‘baby shower’ for soon-to-be mothers

Max Parrott/QNS

Dr. Jennifer Pintiliano, the associate director of pediatrics NYC Health + Hospitals Elmhurst, introduced herself Thursday morning as an international board-certified lactation consultant — a fancy title that means she has spent 1,000 hours studying the best ways for mothers to breastfeed.

Pintiliano’s certification reflects a greater push at the hospital to ramp up their maternity services. So far it seems to be working. 

The World Health Organization recently bestowed the hospital with “baby-friendly status,” a designation that recognizes excellence in breastfeeding education and mother-infant bonding. As a part of this push, the hospital also held a “baby shower” for Elmhurst moms in celebration of World Breastfeeding Week on Thursday.

The event packed the hospital’s auditorium with soon-to-be mothers — so many in fact that the dads and male companions were asked to stand in the aisles to make room. The event presented information sessions on breastfeeding, newborn care and low-cost health insurance. It also gave out goodies in a raffle for a new car seat and a gift bag for all the moms.

In return for these services, the Elmhurst staff hope that the new mothers will choose Elmhurst to deliver their babies. “We’ve been seeing some decrease here at Elmhurst in the number of deliveries, so we’re hoping that our designation will bring people back to Elmhurst. If this is the future, I’m going to be very excited,” Dr. Pintiliano said, pointing to the crowd of moms.

Pintiliano said that designation of “baby-friendly” goes beyond just encouraging breastfeeding. It’s about helping mothers make informed decisions decisions about infant feeding and establishing a healthy mother-infant bond with a policy that encourages mothers to make skin-to-skin contact with their babies from the moment of birth. 

The hospital also provides prenatal education, 15 private rooms where infants can room in and access to maternal support groups after moms are discharged from the hospital.

In attendance was state Senator Jessica Ramos, who said that she wanted to come to the event because the hospital, which sits just outside the boundary of her district, is the most commonly utilized by her constituents. Beyond that, she wanted to connect to the mothers by sharing her experience as a mother of two boys.

“I’m here to tell you that breastfeeding for me was not only very satisfying because I was able to establish a strong bond with my boys, but it was the healthiest way that I could be feeding my children,” Ramos said.

While breastfeeding is recommended by the American Association of Pediatrics, that doesn’t mean it’s always an easy choice. In her presentation, Pintiliano pointed out that there are certain circumstances under which the hospital would provide baby formula to a mother. She said that the hospital respects mothers’ freedom to make their own choice on the issue.

Pintiliano said she sees the work that Elmhurst Hospital is doing on breastfeeding as important. The hospital is ultimately emphasizing the mother-infant bond, while making choices about newborn care as informed and easy as possible. 

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