About the Breastfeeding and Lactation Program

Even if you have never considered breastfeeding in the past, the lactation team at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) urges you to at least begin pumping milk for your infant.

Skin-to-Skin Happy Mom Image 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 for about 6 months, and continued breastfeeding (along with appropriate complementary foods introduced at about 6 months) for as long as mutually desired by mother and child for 2 years or beyond.

Special babies, special needs

Children’s Hospital has been caring for sick infants in our Harriet and Ronald Lassin 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.

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The Power of Pumping

Watch: Power of Pumping

Hear from moms of patients in CHOP’s N/IICU about their decision to pump breastmilk for their children.

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A Bank that Nourishes

Our Mothers’ Milk Bank allows mothers to contribute, in an important way, to the health of other babies in the N/IICU.

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A Dedication to Breastfeeding

CHOP is the first non-BFHI hospital in the state recognized by the Department of Health for commitment to breastfeeding.