Is Your Baby in Special Care? Best Tips from Lactation Professionals

“If my baby needs special care in the hospital, what do I need to know about breastfeeding?” Parents often approach lactation consultants with questions about breastfeeding/chestfeeding and babies with special needs.

We asked our members to share some tips and strategies with families.

“I would recommend spending as much time skin-to-skin with baby as long as both mom and babe are medically stable, start pumping/and or hand expressing colostrum within 6 hours of delivery, give any expressed colostrum to the baby, and allow baby to explore mom’s breasts and nipples as tolerated, even if baby is unable to suckle just yet. Give the baby a name and talk to him as much as possible.” -Jenna Gilbert, IBCLC

“That breastmilk is so important for babies with special needs and to continue breastfeeding with least separation from baby that is medically possible. Make sure you get in touch with an IBCLC® for support and start hand expression, as well as pumping, if separated for feeds and establishing your milk supply.” -Angie Hilliard, IBCLC

“The sooner you can contact a lactation consultant in this scenario, the better. The very basic thing all parents need to know—even if baby will not require special care—is the power of skin-to-skin and touch. Parents also need to remember “8 or more in 24” to remind themselves how many times they need to stimulate their breasts to build milk supply during this time.” -Tori LaChapelle Sproat, IBCLC

“Skin-to-skin [as soon as possible] and pumping or hand expression for mom within 6 hours of delivery, if not sooner. Get in touch with the lactation team [as soon as possible].” -Jill Stailey Benner, IBCLC

Find an IBCLC to help with your questions about lactation and employment or your other breastfeeding questions.

Find an IBCLC

What is an IBCLC?

An International Board Certified Lactation Consultant® (IBCLC) is a healthcare professional specializing in the clinical management of breastfeeding and lactation.

An IBCLC is an invaluable asset to breastfeeding families, reassuring you when lactation are going well, and by providing information and support to help prevent and manage common concerns. IBCLCs help with:

  • Prenatal counseling about the factors that may affect breastfeeding, chestfeeding, and lactation
  • Basic position and latch of the infant
  • Information about practices that promote successful lactation
  • Preventing and managing common concerns such as poor latch, inadequate milk transfer or supply, nipple or breast/chest pain, and calming a fussy baby
  • Milk expression and storage for parents who must be separated from their babies
  • Strategies for lactation after returning to work
  • Breastfeeding and lactation in challenging situations, such as feeding twins or triplets, a premature or sick infant, or infants in special medical situations.

Lactation consultants, do you have other tips to share?

Families, do you have questions? Share them here!

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