Southside Hospital welcomes Island’s first Baby Café

Live feed: Hospital staff, expecting moms and mothers of young children -- plus some of the diners -- welcomed Southside Hospital's new Baby Café this week.

Long Island has welcomed its first Baby Café.

Presenting free educational resources for pregnant or breastfeeding women and a place for those women to share their experiences with other moms, a Baby Café has opened inside the Northwell Health system’s Southside Hospital in Bay Shore.

Based on the precepts of the national nonprofit group Baby Café USA, the Island’s first official breastfeeding “café” – in essence, it’s more of a school – was made possible by a five-year, $1 million grant from Northwell Health’s Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park and an undisclosed “breastfeeding promotion grant” from the New York State Department of Health, according to Southside Hospital.

In addition to learning more about the trials and techniques of nursing babies and sharing their personal experiences with other moms, women visiting the Southside Hospital Baby Café can also meet with certified lactation consultants.

Consultant Wendi Andria of the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners, who has run Southside Hospital’s breastfeeding support groups for years, said the Baby Café would prove a useful resource, particularly for nervous first-time mothers.

“When you’re a scared mom just trying to make sure you’re feeding your baby appropriately, having a place to turn where you can learn from a lactation consultant and swap tips with other moms is incredibly helpful,” Andria said in a statement. “It’s been such a rewarding experience helping moms through their breastfeeding journey via the support group and I look forward to helping more now that we are a Baby Café.”

Some 30 mothers who have attended the hospital’s weekly breastfeeding support-group sessions helped mark the café’s grand opening this week, many with their young children in tow. To start, the Southside Hospital Baby Café will operate on Tuesday afternoons.

According to Baby Café USA, a 501(c)3 organization based in Massachusetts, roughly 80 percent of U.S. mothers of newborns start breastfeeding, but only 40 percent of those moms “reach their own goals.”

Looking to improve those numbers, the cafés – which operate in hospitals, clinics, church halls and other community centers – support new (and experienced) mothers by exploring nursing’s effects on daily lives. Topics include sleep disruptions, pumping and maintaining supplies and other breastfeeding topics “from prenatal to weaning,” according to Baby Café USA.