Lactation/Breastfeeding in the Special Delivery Unit | The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment

Breastfeeding Services in the SDU

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, at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, we urge you to at least begin pumping milk for your infant.

Why? Because your milk is both food and medicine for your baby. It protects your baby from illness and infection. No infant formula can compare. It helps babies to be healthier in both the short- and long-term.Breastfeeding Mom
Almost 100 percent of surgical babies born in the SDU receive human milk.
Most of the babies born in the Special Delivery Unit are medically fragile and need surgical intervention after birth. They may not be able to suckle at the breast. But you can make sure your baby has the essential nutrients he or she needs to grow, develop and recover from surgery by pumping your milk and providing that to your child.

As a mom with a baby in the Harriet and Ronald Lassin Newborn/Intensive Care Unit (N/IICU) or the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, 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.

Breastfeeding resources

Our Breastfeeding and Lactation Program, led by Diane L. Spatz, PhD, RN-BC, FAAN, is comprised of lactation specialists and trained breastfeeding resources nurses. We will provide you with optimal care based on years of experience and extensive research.

Our breastfeeding team is world-renown for our work with medically fragile children and their mothers. Spatz and her team have participated in numerous national studies, received research grants, written and lectured extensively. Spatz has testified before the U.S. Congress about the importance of breastfeeding — particularly for medically fragile infants such as those born in the Special Delivery Unit.

We can:

Before delivery

During your prenatal visits, one of our lactation specialists will meet with you to provide everything you need to know to get the best possible start for lactation. We will support your desire to breastfeed your child and make a significant contribution towards your baby's health and care.

We will provide you with information regarding starting milk production with pumping and how to arrange for breast pump use after you leave the Hospital. Pump rentals are available.

After delivery

Following your baby's arrival, it is important to begin pumping as soon as possible, ideally within the first 2-6 hours. Each patient room in the Special Delivery Unit has a Symphony® hospital-grade electric pump available for your use during your postpartum stay.

The N/IICU has three pump rooms for maximum privacy, and a pump and privacy screen at every care pod. The CICU has one pump room and pumps for use at your child’s bedside. All areas have the Symphony® pump which is the newest pump technology, featuring two phases of pumping patterns to improve your milk production and reduce the time you spend pumping. When you are visiting your child, we encourage you to pump at your baby’s bedside.

Additional support

Mouth care

Your baby’s nurse will teach you about mouth care. With a sterile cotton swab or your hand-washed finger, you will coat the entire inside of the baby’s mouth with your milk. You can leave a small amount of milk for your baby’s nurse to do mouth care when you are not here. Mouth care with your milk helps to protect the baby from infection and babies love it.

Mom's pumping log

Your nurse will give you a Mom's Pumping Log, containing all the instructions you need to know about how to maximize your milk production. It is very important for you to record your pumping times and volumes in this log, so our lactation specialists and breastfeeding resource nurses can help to ensure you have a successful lactation experience.

Skin-to-skin contact (kangaroo care)

Skin-to-skin contact supports the emotional, psychological and physical well-being of the child and mother (fathers can do skin-to-skin care too). It reinforces the bonding and attachment between baby and parents. We can you teach you more about skin-to-skin contact and when it is possible with your baby's condition.

Non-nutritive sucking

Allowing a baby to suck without taking milk is known as non-nutritive sucking. Once your baby is extubated (has his breathing tube removed), he can start practicing at the breast. You will need to pump your breast first.

Sucking is a basic instinct for a newborn baby, but many sick or premature babies haven't been able to suck at the breast or from a bottle because of their condition.

Non-nutritive sucking encourages sucking and weight gain. It provides emotional benefits to the infant who learns to calm himself and focus his attention. Sucking can also help with breathing because it helps to maintain good pressure in your baby's mouth and breathing passages.

Contact us

Lactation Specialists: Available Monday-Friday during the day for inpatient and outpatient consultations. To schedule a time, call 215-590-4442.

Breastfeeding Resource Nurses: Available 24 hours a day/7 days a week. Talk to your nurse in the Special Delivery Unit or your child’s nurse in the N/IICU or CICU about scheduling a consultation.

Pumps: To arrange for a pump rental after you leave the Hospital, call 267-426-5325. 

March 2012

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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 »

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