Breastfeeding & Lactation Services in the N/IICU

While in the Newborn/Infant Intensive Care Unit (N/IICU), your baby may receive care from a lactation specialist and breastfeeding resources nurses.

What does a lactation specialist do for babies in the N/IICU?

Lactation specialists want to understand your personal breastfeeding goals. They will work with you to create and review a personalized pumping schedule to maximize your milk production.

How can human milk and breastfeeding support my baby?

Your milk is both food and medicine for your child. No infant formula can compare. Your milk will protect your infant while he or she is in the hospital.

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 the 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.

Pumping schedule

We will work with you to create and review a personalized pumping schedule to maximize your milk production.

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 teach you more about skin-to-skin contact.

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.

What are the qualifications of a lactation specialist?

Most of our N/IICU nurses have taken a two-day intensive course on how to support and educate our families on the provision of human milk and breastfeeding in the N/IICU. They are called breastfeeding resource nurses. Breastfeeding resource nurses are available 24 hours a day/7 days a week. Your baby’s nurses should be able to help you and answer most of your pumping/breastfeeding questions.

There are two other lactation specialists in the nursery who are experienced nurses who have taken the examination to become International Board-Certified Lactation Consultants.

Frequently asked questions

How often do I need to pump?

To establish your milk supply, it will be important to pump every 2-3 hours with a goal of eight pumps in a 24-hour period during the first few weeks after delivery. This is important even if your baby can not receive the milk at that time.

How much milk should I be making?

By the end of the first week you should be producing between 500-1,000 milliliters in a 24-hour period. It is very important to keep your pump log so we can review it with you. The amount of milk you produce on any individual pumping or from each breast is not as important as how much you produce in a full day of pumping. Please keep your log and bring it with you each time you visit.

Where can I pump at the Hospital?

All inpatient units at Children's Hospital have a Symphony hospital-grade pump available for use. If you need one, please ask your nurse to have one delivered to you.

The N/IICU and the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit also have pump rooms available for your use. There are also pump rooms in the following locations:

Can I rent a pump from the Hospital?

Children's Hospital rents hospital-grade Medela breast pumps and BabyWeigh Scales. Our pump and scale rentals are available seven days a week. To contact our rental station, please call 267-426-5325 and leave a message with your call back number. Appointments for rental pick ups and returns are made on an individual basis. 

Meet our team

Our team is led by Diane L. Spatz, PhD, RN-BC, FAAN. Dr. Spatz is an internationally recognized expert in the field of human milk and breastfeeding. She is a PhD-prepared nurse and has more than 20 years experience in this field. Dr. Spatz has researched, written and lectured about the importance of mother’s milk to critically ill and fragile infants and babies.

Other team members include:
Co-chairs of the unit-based breastfeeding committee:

Breastfeeding resource nurses are available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.

More information

For more information about common breastfeeding concerns, human milk management and more, see our Breastfeeding and Lactation Program.

Contact us

Lactation specialists are available Monday through Friday, during the day, for inpatient and outpatient consults. To schedule a time, call 215-590-4442.

* Please leave a message and best time to contact you or when you will be at your baby’s bedside.

Updated January 2013

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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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CHOP launched a new website for moms who are breastfeeding or pumping their milk for their babies. The site details the Hospital's breastfeeding services, offers information about breastfeeding basics including skin-to-skin care and addresses breastfeeding concerns. Check it out »