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Boston Medical Center Launches First Hospital-Based Baby Café in Boston

(Boston) – Sept. 20, 2016 – Boston Medical Center (BMC) is the first hospital in Boston to launch an onsite Baby Café, continuing its commitment to providing ongoing care for new mothers in the local community. The free, weekly breastfeeding support group will provide lactation counseling, baby massage, resources around child development, parental stress and coping skills, and connect parents with diaper banks.  

BMC became the first WHO/UNICEF Baby-Friendly™ Hospital in Massachusetts in 1999. The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative promotes optimal maternity care for all women, with the goal of increasing breastfeeding initiation, duration, and exclusivity rates. BMC has since partnered with Baby Café USA, which oversees a network of more than 45 drop-in lactation centers throughout the country, to expand its community-based breastfeeding services.

While breastfeeding rates continue to rise nationwide, many mothers fail to reach the six- and 12- month benchmarks for prolonged success. In 2016, 87 percent of Massachusetts mothers tried breastfeeding at least once; however, only 20 percent continued to breastfeed exclusively at six months, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Research has shown that social support opportunities increase maternal breastfeeding exclusivity rates substantially, and it is well documented that breastfeeding is also a key factor in optimal infant health.

“Breastfeeding occurs within a social context. Our mission is to encourage parents and lactation specialists to share information, knowledge and resources that make the ability to successfully breastfeed easier for parents,” said Renee Boynton-Jarrett, MD, ScD, pediatrician and founding director of the Vital Village Community Engagement Network at Boston Medical Center. “By offering free classes, we’re ensuring that every mother, regardless of their financial situation, has the necessary tools to meet their breastfeeding goals.”

Created in 2010, Vital Village encourages the development of community-based strategies that promote child well-being in Boston neighborhoods. The network recently sponsored 13 scholarships for community members to attend certified lactation counselor training — all of whom will volunteer in existing or new cafes. In total, Vital Village will launch more than five free, drop-in breastfeeding groups across Boston this month alone.

“Breastfeeding can be a very intimidating process for a new mother,” said Sheilajane Lewis, PNP, IBCLC, facilitator for the BMC Baby Café. “This model aims to eliminate maternal isolation and build invaluable, lasting relationships among moms and we are so happy to share this gift with the Boston community.”

The BMC Baby Cafe group meets every Tuesday from 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. on the fifth floor of the Yawkey building at 850 Harrison Avenue in Boston. It is free and open to the public. Parents do not need to register or be a BMC patient to attend. 

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About Baby Café
Baby Café USA organization was started by Lucia Jenkins RN, IBCLC in 2011. The non-profit works to promote the physical and psychological health of mothers and children through education and training regarding breastfeeding. The organization’s intention is that all mothers will be able to access the information and support they need to breastfeed without charge. For more information contact

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