Brooklyn Birthing Center Receives Baby-Friendly Designation

Brooklyn Birthing Center, the only accredited freestanding birthing center in the New York City metro area, is now Brooklyn’s very first Baby-Friendly designated facility. The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative is a global project sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The project aims to increase the rates of breastfeeding initiation, exclusivity, and duration worldwide.

In order to achieve Baby-Friendly designation, hospitals and birthing centers must provide extensive breastfeeding education and support, encourage skin-to-skin care and rooming-in while limiting the separation of mothers and newborns, and avoid promoting products that interfere with breastfeeding (such as infant formulas, bottles, and pacifiers). There are more than 20,000 designated Baby-Friendly hospitals and birthing centers across the globe, but less than 18% of US births occur in Baby-Friendly facilities. Brooklyn Birthing Center is one of just five Baby-Friendly designated birthing centers in the United States, and one of just two independent (as opposed to hospital-owned) Baby-Friendly birthing centers in the nation.

Amber with Eric Adams, 10.28.15 EDITED
Amber Star of Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast and Borough President Eric Adams at a Brooklyn Birthing Center event last October.

This prestigious designation marks the culmination of over three years of hard work by Brooklyn Birthing Center’s administration, midwives, nurses, and support staff. The birthing center applied to join the New York City Breastfeeding Hospital Collaborative in the spring of 2013, and spent 36 months developing an extensive lactation program with support from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Baby-Friendly USA staffers conducted a detailed site assessment in June of 2016, and confirmed that Brooklyn Birthing Center meets all criteria for Baby-Friendly designation in July.

Brooklyn Birthing Center has promoted breastfeeding since its inception in 1999; however, the birthing center dramatically expanded its lactation program in order to comply with the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative’s 10 Steps to Successful Breastfeeding. New program components include a minimum of 25 hours of lactation education for all clinical staff members; a prenatal breastfeeding class for birthing center clients and for members of the general public; one-on-one consultations with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC); and increased breastfeeding support during the first hours postpartum. Brooklyn Birthing Center is also a donation depot for Mother’s Milk Bank Northeast, a non-profit that supplies donor milk to several local hospital NICUs.

Cabrera SLIDER
The Cabrera family, shortly after birthing their second child with Brooklyn Birthing Center midwives.

“Our clients are much better prepared to initiate breastfeeding as a result of these changes,” observed Linda Gaglioti, CNM, Brooklyn Birthing Center’s Director of Midwifery. “They ask about skin-to-skin care and point out early feeding cues in the delivery suites! We overhear them telling family members why they want to nurse according to their babies’ cues, rather than according to a schedule. The change is really remarkable.”

Jennifer Leopold, IBCLC, LMSW, Brooklyn Birthing Center’s Director of Lactation Services, commented, “I have been teaching breastfeeding to health care workers and pregnant women for many years. But since we began our Baby-Friendly journey, our clients have reported that they are much more confident in their ability to breastfeed.”

Lillian, the 1,000th baby born at Brooklyn Birthing Center.

According to Rachel Anne Libon, Project Manager at Brooklyn Birthing Center, “Participating in the New York City Breastfeeding Hospital Collaborative was a wonderful experience. We received expert guidance from the Bureau of Maternal, Infant, and Reproductive Health, and we attended quarterly learning sessions with staff from other aspiring Baby-Friendly hospitals. It is encouraging to see more New York City hospitals adopting evidence-based practices to support breastfeeding families.”

At the time of this press release, New York City’s Baby-Friendly facilities include Harlem Hospital, NYU Langone Medical Center, Queens Hospital Center, Lincoln Medical & Mental Health Center, North Central Bronx Hospital, Richmond University Medical Center, Jacobi Medical Center, Bellevue Hospital Center, and Brooklyn Birthing Center. The last five facilities listed all earned their designation between April and July of 2016— a testament to the success of the City’s Breastfeeding Hospital Collaborative. Several other local hospitals are now participating in the Collaborative, indicating that Baby-Friendly practices are slowly becoming the standard of care in New York City. Brooklyn Birthing Center is the first facility in its borough to earn Baby-Friendly designation.

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Our First Donation for Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast!

Milk DonorWe just received our first donation for Mother’s Milk Bank Northeast! A Brooklyn mom generously donated 100 ounces of pumped breast milk. This milk will be processed by Mother’s Milk Bank Northeast, and then distributed to hospital NICUs throughout the region, where preterm and medically fragile infants will enjoy the health benefits of human milk.

As a donation depot, Brooklyn Birthing Center receives, stores, and ships donor milk for Mother’s Milk Bank Northeast. We hope that by providing this service, we can make it easier for Brooklyn-area families to donate milk.


If you are interested in becoming a donor, please check out this link. The enrollment process includes a phone interview and a quick blood test, which we can complete in our office. Approved donors can contact the milk bank to request free shipping materials, or simply drop milk off at Brooklyn Birthing Center. If a baby you love needs donor milk, click here to learn more.


Introducing… New Office Locations, New Lactation Program!

The following is an excerpt from our e-newsletter. To sign up for monthly e-mail updates, click here.

Dear Friends of the Brooklyn Midwifery Group and Brooklyn Birthing Center,

We have some very exciting news to share with you! Starting April 1st, the Brooklyn Midwifery Group will be partnering with Joanne Middleton, CNM, Ph.D. Joanne is longtime champion of family-centered birth options, and has attended over 3,000 births during her 40 years as a midwife! We are thrilled to be working with her. 

As a result of this new partnership, our clients can now schedule office visits with Joanne in Park Slope or WilliamsburgJoanne will also be attending deliveries and seeing clients at our office on Ocean Avenue. This collaboration will make midwifery care and birthing center deliveries even more accessible to families throughout Brooklyn and beyond. 

For more information about locations, hours, and appointments, please see our website.

We are also very pleased to introduce our new Director of Lactation Services, Adina Lerer, RN-BSN, IBCLC. Adina will be spearheading our new Lactation Program, which will soon include expanded prenatal breastfeeding education, postpartum lactation home visits, and a breastfeeding warm line! Adina is now available to meet with pregnant and breastfeeding clients by appointment- please call our office to schedule a consultation. 

Last but not least, we will be hosting our next La Leche League meeting on Monday, May 5th, from 7-8 PM. This is a great opportunity for new and expecting parents to socialize, support one another, and learn more about breastfeeding, postpartum health, and baby care. No need to register in advance- just drop in, and bring your friends!


New ACOG and SMFM Statement Challenges Overuse of Cesarean Deliveries

Yesterday, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine issued a joint obstetric care consensus statement entitled, Safe Prevention of the Primary Cesarean Delivery. This groundbreaking statement has the potential to change how childbirth is managed in the United States- and prevent many unnecessary cesarean sections and other interventions.

Significantly, new recommendations include avoiding induction before 41 weeks (unless there is a medical indication); allowing for a longer latent stage and a longer second stage of labor; the use of amnioinfusion for variable fetal heart rate decelerations; and the use of instrument-assisted vaginal deliveries instead of cesareans when possible. The statement also notes that continuous labor support, including support provided by doulas, is one of the most effective ways to decrease the cesarean rate. In a nutshell, this ACOG and SMFM statement lends support to the midwifery model of care and the importance of allied birth workers and educators.

You can read the full statement here. A Science and Sensibility post by Judith Lothian, PhD, RN, LCCE, FACCE, summarizes many of the statement’s highlights in lay terms. 



BBC to Participate in Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative!

We are thrilled to announce that Brooklyn Birthing Center was chosen to participate in the 2013 NYC Breastfeeding Hospital Collaborative! This city-wide effort to promote breastfeeding in birthing facilities is part of the global Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative.    

As the only freestanding birthing center in the metro New York area, BBC is uniquely positioned to support breastfeeding among new and expecting moms who choose to birth in an out-of-hospital setting. We already strive to promote breastfeeding in a number of ways: we discuss breastfeeding at prenatal visits, we sponsor a prenatal breastfeeding class, we keep newborns with their moms and encourage skin-to-skin contact, and we help new moms initiate breastfeeding after delivery.  

The Baby-Friendly program will enable us to build upon these practices. Beginning this summer, we will prioritize lactation support training for staff and offer additional breastfeeding resources to clients. We are excited to take our breastfeeding support program to the next level!


BBC is Expanding!

The following is an excerpt from our May newsletter:

As we discussed in our March and April newsletters, freestanding birthing centers are gaining increasing recognition for our family-centered, evidence-based model of care. New research demonstrates that birthing centers achieve better outcomes for moms and babies, and both policymakers and the media are taking notice. 

Judah and CheWe are pleased to observe that more and more families are choosing to birth at BBC- the only freestanding birthing center in the New York metro area. Earlier this spring, we responded to our growing clientele by growing our staff (again, see our March and April newsletters for details).  

Now, we are pleased to announce that Brooklyn Birthing Center is expanding! We will begin conducting prenatal and postpartum visits on the lower level of our building later this month, minimizing traffic on the birthing floor. Our back office will be converted into an additional birthing suite, and our reception area will be converted into a family room. These improvements will allow us to provide a calm, comfortable birthing environment for more expecting parents.

Stay tuned for more updates about our upcoming expansion- and sign up for our monthly e-newsletter here!  


BBC to Participate in the Strong Start Initiative!

Last year, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation announced that it would be awarding grants to initiatives that could demonstrate viable models for reducing preterm birth.  

We are thrilled to announce that the American Association of Birth Centers was awarded a $5.35 million four-year grant!  The birth center model of enhanced prenatal care program, known as AABC Strong Start in Birth Centers, will be evaluated in 48 birth center sites, located in 22 states across the US.  In the New York metro area, Brooklyn Birthing Center was chosen as AABC’s Strong Start participant!

We are truly honored to be participating in this program.  We believe preventable maternal and infant health problems can be reduced when providers take a more holistic approach to family health.  Because our model of care combines evidence-based medicine with multidisciplinary services and patient education, Brooklyn Birthing Center and other birthing centers across the US are perfectly suited to implement programs like Strong Start. 

Check out the full press release below!


Birth Centers Receive Grant to Reduce Preterm Birth

Contact:  Jill Alliman 423-253-4455, jkalliman86@gmail.com

Washington, District of Columbia- Preterm birth is estimated to cost over $26 billion per year and impacts close to 12% of all births in the United States. Preterm birth is associated with increased risk of lifelong health and developmental problems.  The preterm birth rate has increased by 36% in the last 20 years.

In response to this persistent problem, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation announced early last year that it would be awarding grants to initiatives that could demonstrate viable models for reducing preterm birth. The American Association of Birth Centers was recently chosen to receive a $5.35 million four year grant to measure outcomes and costs from enhanced prenatal care using the birth center model of care for women enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP who are at risk of having a preterm birth. 

The birth center model of enhanced prenatal care program, known as AABC Strong Start in Birth Centers, will be evaluated in 48 birth center sites, located in 22 states across the US.  In the New York metro area, Brooklyn Birthing Center was chosen as AABC’s Strong Start participant.   

Since its inception in 1999, Brooklyn Birthing Center (BBC) has served families from diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds, including a high percentage of Medicaid-eligible clients. As the only private, freestanding birthing center in the New York metro area, BBC is a unique resource for families interested in receiving quality OB/GYN care and giving birth in a more home-like environment. 

Birth center maternity care is focused on the needs of the woman and her family, and is a time intensive relationship-based style of care that employs evidence based medicine, health education, and emotional support.  Birth center care is a collaborative practice, with teams of health professionals available for referral when needed.

“Freestanding Birth Centers have a strong track record of providing high quality care for mothers and babies for over 30 years in the U.S, including significantly lower preterm birth rates.  AABC looks forward to partnering with CMMI to identify how birth centers can best contribute to a national solution to improving our maternal infant outcomes,” said Jill Alliman, Project Director for AABC’s Strong Start project.

The superior outcomes and cost savings of birth centers were recently re-confirmed by the National Birth Center Study II, published in January 2013.  Study data demonstrate a 6% cesarean rate and significant cost savings over the cost of hospital care.  Study authors estimated the savings from study participants in NBCS II of over $30 million. 

AABC is one of 27 awardees nationally, and one of two that will test the birth center model of care to reduce preterm births and improve maternal infant outcomes while measuring cost effectiveness of care.  More information is available on the Strong Start initiative from the CMS Innovations Center.

About Brooklyn Birthing Center (BBC)

Located in the Midwood neighborhood of Brooklyn, BBC is the only private free standing birthing facility in the New York metro area.  At BBC, maternity care is provided by a small team of dedicated board-certified nurse-midwives.  Clients typically birth in the center’s roomy private suites— though those interested in a water birth may opt to deliver in the birthing tub.

BBC’s midwives have privileges at Maimonides Medical Center (MMC), and are thus able to manage normal deliveries in a hospital setting.  In the event that a hospital delivery is medically necessary or desired, BBC midwives accompany clients to the nearby MMC maternity unit. 

BBC offers GYN care, including annual exams, family planning services, and BRCA testing.  An internationally board-certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) and a social worker are available by appointment.  BBC also recently launched an educational series, which includes a childbirth education program and classes on breastfeeding and newborn care.  All classes are open to the general public.

About the American Association of Birth Centers

The American Association of Birth Centers (AABC) is a multi-disciplinary membership organization comprised of birth centers, and individuals and organizations that support the birth center concept including certified nurse midwives (CNMs), certified professional midwives (CPMs), physicians, nurses, women and their families. Founded in 1983, AABC is dedicated to developing quality holistic services for childbearing families that promote self-reliance and confidence in birth and parenting. AABC publishes materials on birth centers, sets national standards for birth center operation, and promotes state regulations for licensure and national accreditation by the Commission for the Accreditation of Birth Centers. 

About the Strong Start for Mothers and Newborns Initiative

The Strong Start for Mothers and Newborns initiative is an effort by HHS to reduce preterm births and improve outcomes for newborns and pregnant women. This initiative is a joint effort between the CMS, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), and the Administration on Children and Families (ACF) and is also supported by various programs across the multiple agencies of HHS. The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation (CMS Innovation Center) will administer these awards through cooperative agreements over four years.

Event News

Movie Night! Conscious Birthing: Our Stories

Join BBC for an intimate screening of this 60-minute documentary directed by Ilana Kresch, CPM.  Conscious Birthing: Our Stories explores pregnancy and birth choices through interviews with new and expecting parents, doulas, and midwives.  The film also follows one couple through their pregnancy, and includes footage of their beautiful water birth!

Director Ilana Kresch will be in attendance! Ilana is a CPM, nursing student, and BBC intern.  The film is primarily in English with subtitles in Spanish.  

PLEASE RSVP on Facebook or e-mail rachelanne@brooklynbirthingcenter.com if you would like to attend! 


Happy Holidays from BBC! And some exciting updates…

We want to wish all our BBC families a happy holiday season and a healthy New Year! Over the last few weeks, we’ve had the pleasure of learning more about our clients’ diverse seasonal traditions. We have also received many sweet holiday cards from families who birthed with BBC earlier this year or in years past. Thank you for thinking of us- it is truly a delight to see new photos of those growing babies!  

Many of you are spending your first-ever holiday season with a new addition to the family. We hope you enjoy this special experience. We’re especially excited for those BBC families who are celebrating the birth of a new baby this month- and we’re delighted to report that we’ve had a spate of beautiful births over the last week!  

Here at BBC, we are ringing in some exciting changes with the new year. We have two new midwives, and we expect to add two more midwives and several new birthing assistants to our team in 2013. Thanks to the help of our highly-skilled and dedicated interns, we are making technological leaps in the office and hosting monthly workshops for expecting families and new parents. Over the next few months, we hope to expand our programming to include childbirth education, increased breastfeeding support, and more!

Please sign up for our mailing list, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter to stay abreast of these exciting changes!  



We have two new midwives!

We at Brooklyn Birthing Center are thrilled to welcome two new staff midwives, Laurie Brucia and Jacklyn Lahav.  You can learn more about Laurie and Jacklyn (and the rest of our lovely midwives and staff) by reading the Staff section of this website.