Breastfeeding and Lactation

Breastfeeding or Pumping? Try GEMS

The Group of Empowered Moms (GEMS) is a support group for breastfeeding/pumping moms of CHOP patients.

Led by CHOP's certified breastfeeding counselors, the group meets at 4:30 p.m. on the second Friday of each month in Room 2NW85 at the Main Hospital.

Upcoming meeting dates:

  • Sept. 12 
  • Oct. 10
  • Nov. 14
  • Dec. 12

For more information, contact GEMS.

Breastfeeding and Lactation Program

Providing milk for your child is one of the most important roles you have as a new mother. Even if you have never considered breastfeeding in the past, the lactation team at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia urges you to at least begin pumping milk for your infant.

Why? Because your milk is both food and medicine for your baby. It provides critical immunobiological and developmental components that cannot be replicated in formula.

Your milk protects your baby from illness and infection. It will help your baby to be healthier in both the short and long term.

At CHOP, we follow the American Academy of Pediatrics' and World Health Organization’s recommendations that all infants should be exclusively breastfed or receive human milk for the first six months of life, with continued breastfeeding for a year or more as mutually desired by mother and child.  

Our lactation team

Our lactation team, led by Diane L. Spatz, PhD, RN-BC, FAAN, is comprised of international board-certified lactation consultants and trained breastfeeding resource nurses. We will provide you with optimal care based on our extensive research and many years of experience.

Our breastfeeding team is world-renown for our work with medically fragile children and their mothers. Dr. Spatz and her team have participated in numerous national studies, received research grants, and written and lectured extensively.

Dr. Spatz has testified before the U.S. Congress about the importance of breastfeeding — particularly for newborns with complex birth defects requiring surgery and intensive care.

To learn more about our lactation specialists, see meet our team

Special babies, special needs

Children’s Hospital has been caring for sick infants in our Newborn/Infant Intensive Care Unit (N/IICU) for more than 50 years, and in our Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU) for nearly 20 years.

While sick children have been cared for at CHOP since the Hospital opened in 1855, babies were not born here until 2008, when CHOP's Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment opened the Garbose Family Special Delivery Unit (SDU).

The SDU is the world’s first birthing center created exclusively for mothers carrying babies with known birth defects. It provides immediate specialized care to infants, many of whom will require surgery.

Having a birthing facility onsite allows breastfeeding specialists to work with moms-to-be before their babies are born, educating them about the benefits of human milk to medically fragile babies.

Many sick newborns cannot suckle at the breast right away — as a healthy infant would. But you can make sure your baby has the essential nutrients he or she needs to grow, develop and recover from surgery or illness by pumping your milk and providing that to your child.

If your baby is in the N/IICU or CICU, pumping milk for your baby is one active thing you can do to help your child. Our research shows mothers’ milk does make a difference to all babies — especially babies born with birth defects and those recovering from surgery.

How we can help 


Our breastfeeding team provides one-on-one consultations for moms interested in breastfeeding.

We can:

Breastfeeding resource nurses are available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week in all inpatient units and during normal operating hours at most outpatient sites. Our lactation specialists are available Monday through Friday, during the day, for inpatient and outpatient consultation.

To schedule a consultation, call 215-590-4442.

Breastfeeding services

For more information about the breastfeeding services at CHOP, see our services. In this section, you'll learn practical details such as:


To help you better understand how human milk can make a difference in your baby’s brain development, ability to heal and overall health, we offer a variety of online lactation resources including:

Contact us

Our team is here to assist you in achieving your personal breastfeeding goals. For more information or to schedule a personal consultation with a member of our lactation team, call 215-590-4442.

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Power of Pumping

Lactation experts and moms talk about the importance of pumping milk for medically fragile children. Watch the video trailer »

The full version of The Power of Pumping and Skin-to-Skin Care, educational videos, are available for purchase. Order your copies today.