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NICU Lactation Services

Breast milk is the best food for your baby. It contains most everything your baby needs to grow and develop in those first few months of life. Breast-fed babies grow faster, become stronger and develop feelings of security and closeness that can last a lifetime. This is why we encourage each mother to breast-feed her baby. If you have questions, are having problems with breast-feeding, or are concerned your baby isn't getting enough breast milk, please let us know. We're here to help.

Lactation experts

Sometimes, moms whose babies are in the NICU may have challenges with breastfeeding. If this happens to you, our neonatal lactation consultant is available to provide help, encouragement and support if you have problems with breast-feeding or pumping.

Our neonatal lactation consultant is available to:

  • Explain the benefits of breast-feeding
  • Discuss different ways we can help you and your family adjust to breast-feeding
  • Provide help, encouragement and support if you have problems with breast-feeding or pumping

We have numerous resources available through lactation services for moms that are having difficulty with nursing/pumping. While other nurses are focusing on your baby's care, the lactation consultant can provide extra attention to you.

Everything you need

Our single room NICU makes it convenient for moms to breast-feed or pump. Each room includes a hospital-grade breast pump, collection containers and labels. There is also a small refrigerator to store breast milk and warmers to prepare milk for feeds. It is stored in our secure, onsite milk bank. Safety barcoding is used for labeling and scanning mom's milk to monitor the time and amount each baby is fed daily. We also use special milk warmers to bring milk to a temperature that is best for baby.

If you are unable to breast-feed your baby right after birth, it's important to begin pumping as soon as possible, usually within the first four hours. This helps to establish a good milk supply. It is important to pump every two to three hours using a hospital-grade electric breast pump. These are not pumps you can buy at a store. You usually must rent them, or if you are a WIC recipient, you may call WIC for information.

Providing extra care

For the premature or sick baby with specific problems, your baby's doctor may order the use of pasteurized human milk from our milk bank to feed your baby. You can learn more about Cook Children's donor milk program here.

To help your baby grow stronger and healthier, we may use a special milk fortifier (extra nutrients) or a pasteurized human milk additive (added calories) to your milk. Studies have shown that babies 33 weeks gestation and earlier who only receive human milk products have a 50 percent decreased risk in developing necrotizing enterocolitis. Specially trained milk technicians are on staff to mix mothers' milk with these needed nutrients.

We may need you to sign a consent form allowing us to feed your baby pasteurized human milk or pasteurized human milk additive.

Breast-feeding benefits at a glance

For babies, breast feeding has been shown to:

  • Decrease problems with allergies
  • Promote healthy growth and development
  • Provide disease-fighting cells that help protect against germs
  • Protect against cancer and diabetes
  • Help with digestion of food
  • Develop feelings of security, warmth and comfort
  • Make your baby smarter (adds IQ points)

For mothers, breastfeeding may:

  • Protect against breast cancer and ovarian cancer
  • Help the uterus get back to prepregnancy size and shape
  • Delay ovulation and menstruation

Breastfeeding also:

  • Is convenient
  • Makes comforting your baby easier
  • Saves time and money since you don't have to buy as much formula or bottles
  • Makes travel easier because you don't have to pack a lot of extra items and you can feed your baby when you need to
  • Is environmentally friendly because it requires no packaging, advertising, shipping, storage or disposal

Of course, we understand that there are certain situations where breastfeeding just isn't possible. Don't worry, we will work with you to ensure that you and your baby get the most out of your feeding experiences. In addition, our Kangaroo Care program will ensure that you have every opportunity to bond with your baby. After all, nothing replaces love.