Breastfeeding is normal for your baby. It helps defend babies against a number of infections, allergies and chronic conditions, and allows you and your baby to bond in an indescribable way. UnityPoint Health, provides a variety of breastfeeding services to help you meet your breastfeeding goals.
The Benefits of Breastfeeding
Breast milk is what your baby expects. It is the perfect food for your baby. Breast milk contains the vital components for normal growth that formula cannot replicate. Among the benefits, babies that are breastfed have a decreased risk of SIDS, suffer less from asthma and allergies, have a better response to immunizations and have an overall decreased risk of developing illness and infections.
Mothers benefit from breastfeeding, as well. Breastfeeding lessens the risk of premenopausal breast cancer, ovarian and uterine cancers, and burns calories by the act of making milk. Hormones released during breastfeeding promote bonding between the mother and the baby.
Preparation for Breastfeeding Class
To assist with breastfeeding technique and education, we offer a Preparation for Breastfeeding class. Mothers and a support person attend this class to learn normal behaviors of breastfeeding babies, positioning techniques, how to manage potential struggles with breastfeeding and resources for help, ways to maintain the milk supply and breastfeeding relationship if mother returns to work or school, and tips for introducing solid food while continuing breastfeeding.
Families will leave the class with knowledge, resources for support, and an interactive online guide that is available for six months after taking the breastfeeding class.
Lactation Consultants During Your Stay
UnityPoint Health employs five International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) and one Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC). These specialists work together to help you have a positive breastfeeding experience.
During your hospital stay, our staff can answer any questions you may have. They are available to assess feedings, provide guidance for more effective feedings, contribute to the multi-disciplinary approach for the baby's health in the hospital, and develop plans for those babies that continue to need assistance after discharge.
Outpatient Visits after Discharge
Outpatient visits are available after discharge to provide continued support for breastfeeding struggles or for confirmation of success. Families may call the lactation office at 309-672-4242 to schedule a visit with a lactation consultant.
General Breastfeeding Tips
While each breastfeeding relationship is different, here are some general tips for success:
- Attend a breastfeeding class. UnityPoint Health - Methodist offers a Preparation for Breastfeeding Class. View classes.
- Find a breastfeeding friendly healthcare provider. Ask them questions related to infant feeding to see if their views are complementary to your breastfeeding goals.
- Discuss your feeding goals with your family, friends, and healthcare providers. Help them understand ways they can support you after the baby arrives. This includes supportive words of encouragement, limiting visitors, meals, household assistance, and generally anything that allows you uninterrupted time with your baby.
- Plan to exclusively breastfeed. The American Academy of Pediatrics and many other major professional organizations recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life. Complementary foods can be added to breastfeeding after 6 months. Breastfeeding should continue as long as mother and baby desire after one year.
- Skin to skin contact and frequent feeding. Babies kept in skin to skin contact are more likely to breastfeed often and effectively. This uninterrupted access to the breast is key to establishing a healthy milk supply.
- Avoid unnecessary supplementation and pacifiers. Mother's milk supply is established by frequent and effective breastfeeding.
- Ask to see an IBCLC (Lactation Consultant). The lactation consultant will be able to assess feedings and provide assistance for feeding difficulties if needed. The IBCLC is the only internationally certified healthcare professional trained in breastfeeding and human lactation.
- Methodist Milk Drop-In: Every Tuesday from 10 a.m. - 12p.m. in Cafe 1 and 2 at UnityPoint Health - Methodist. Moms are invited to bring their babies in to be weighed, and to ask an IBCLC questions.