CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. -- If you're a mom-to-be in your first or second trimester, new New York State health regulations that take effect in January may impact you when it's time to have your baby.
These new guidelines are aimed at increasing the number of moms who breastfeed.
New York’s report says that currently, only 44 percent of moms breastfeed for six full months, but the national target average is 70 percent.
It's long been thought that breastfeeding exclusively for at least six months has certain health benefits, and now that some new research confirms that, New York is pushing its hospitals to better equip new parents with the tools and education they need to successfully breastfeed.
The delivery room is where you may notice the change.
Starting January 16, newborns will be handed over to their moms for immediate skin-to-skin contact instead of having a short medical exam first.
Of course, any complications would take priority, but if all is well, the idea is that skin-to-skin contact helps create a bond that could ultimately help make breastfeeding come easier to both mom and baby.
Dr. Tony Vetrano, who has been working with children and newborns for more than 30 years, says that infants have a natural reflex to find the breast and start suckling right after birth.
"Should we interrupt that by pulling the baby away for an examination? Well the answer is, and we have done that in the past, there doesn't seem to be much harm, but it might be better to have the baby latch to mom immediately because that is an instinct that both mom and baby have,” Dr. Vetrano explained.
At Mercy Hospital, registered nurse and lactation consultant Tammy Kowalik agreed.
She also said that Mercy has been making efforts to make this immediate skin-to-skin contact protocol the norm for over a year now.
"For mom, it kind of gives her a way to relax right after the deliver and connect with her baby immediately,” Kowalik said. “For baby, the baby has heard her heart beat for nine months, and now placed directly on her chest hears that familiar heartbeat so it helps the baby transition.”
Dr. Vetrano said breastfeeding also helps to transfer antibodies that help fight infections and illnesses to a newborn, which lowers their risk of getting sick. Breast milk may help babies absorb vitamins better, too.
Dr. Vetrano wants to stress that there is certainly nothing wrong with formula, and sometimes it's a necessary supplement depending on the baby and the mother.
Currently, Vetrano says it's as simple as research suggests: breast feeding may be better.