You may already be planning to breastfeed exclusively for 6 to 12 months or even longer. Or maybe you're nervous about breastfeeding or have some health or logistical concerns.
Whatever your situation, UnityPoint Health – Methodist nurses and lactation consultants are here to help you meet your goals. We provide extensive help while you are in the hospital. When you go home, you can continue to have our support with programs like video chats and weekly support meetings at the hospital.
Choose Us for Comprehensive Breastfeeding Support
We know how breastfeeding supports your baby's health. We've worked with our moms and the community to create a strong support system for you. We offer:
- Early assessment for women with previous or anticipated breastfeeding problems
- Breastfeeding class
- Personalized lactation support while you are in the hospital
- Assistance with making a breastfeeding plan
- Video breastfeeding support
- Tips to help when you get home
- Extra help if you are having trouble breastfeeding or can't because of medical or other reasons
- Breastfeeding basics (online information)
- Outpatient lactation consult appointments
To help with breastfeeding technique and education, we offer a Preparation for Breastfeeding class. You'll leave with resources for breastfeeding support. You can also access an interactive online guide for 6 months after you take the class. Mothers and a support person attend this class to learn:
- Typical behaviors of breastfeeding babies
- Positioning techniques
- How to manage potential struggles with breastfeeding
- Resources for help
- How to maintain your milk supply and breastfeeding relationship if you return to work or school
- When to start solid food while continuing breastfeeding
Lactation Consultant Support During Your Stay
Our team includes several International Board-Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) and a Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC). These specialists work together to help you have a positive breastfeeding experience. We'll show you how to breastfeed and how to keep your milk coming in when you are away from your baby. Learn more about our team.
During your hospital stay, our staff can answer any questions you may have. They are available to:
- Assess feedings
- Guide more effective feedings
- Work with pediatricians or other specialists to make sure your baby's nutritional needs are met in the hospital
- Develop plans for those babies that need lactation support help after you go home
Your Breastfeeding Plan
While each breastfeeding relationship is different, a good plan helps you and baby stay on track. A breastfeeding plan includes:
- Breastfeeding class: Methodist Birthing Center offers a Preparation for Breastfeeding Class. View classes.
- Breastfeeding friendly provider: Ask your provider questions related to infant feeding to see if their views support your breastfeeding goals.
- Feeding goals discussion: Let your family and friends know about your goals and how they can help. You may need encouragement, a break from visitors or help with meals and housework.
- Exclusive breastfeeding plan: The American Academy of Pediatrics and other organizations recommend breastfeeding as a baby's only food source for the first 6 months. You can add other foods after that.
- Skin-to-skin contact: Contact helps babies breastfeed more often and more effectively.
- Frequent feeding: Frequent and effective breastfeeding establishes a mother's milk supply. Babies don't need other food or water. We don't recommend pacifiers, because they can interfere with a baby's natural urge to suckle and breastfeed.
- IBCLC (Lactation Consultant): The lactation consultant will assess feedings and provide help if needed.
Outpatient Lactation Visits After Discharge
Outpatient lactation support visits are available after you bring your baby home. You can find continued support for breastfeeding challenges or confirm that you're succeeding. You can call the lactation office at 309-672-4242 to schedule a visit with a lactation consultant.
Lactation Consultant Online Support
You can get help with breastfeeding 24/7 from the comfort of your home after you leave the hospital. All you need is a laptop and a camera. This program is also called telehealth lactation consultation.
You can go online, view profiles of certified lactation consultants and schedule an appointment online. You get expert assistance on a video chat, without exposing you or your baby to wind chill or germs.
Your amazing body makes the perfect food for your baby — breast milk. Breast milk contains more than 200 nutrients to help your baby grow and develop. Formula can't replicate breast milk. Breastfed babies are shown to have:
- Better oral development, brain development and motor skills
- Better response to immunizations
- Better protection against diseases that last into adulthood
Breastfeeding babies may have less chance of:
- Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), illness and infections
- Gas, diarrhea and constipation
- Asthma and allergies
- Childhood cancers
- Diabetes and obesity
Breastfeeding can benefit new mothers by:
- Lowering the risk of breast, ovarian and uterine cancer
- Helping you get back to your healthy weight faster
- Increasing your bond with baby
- Saving you money
You may be wondering if you should feed your baby on demand or set a schedule. Lactation experts almost always recommend feeding on demand. Studies show babies who have complete access to feeding has a much higher chance of getting the full nutrients they need. Putting your baby on a strict schedule could make it difficult to deliver the nutrients for proper growth and development.
Newborns eat 8 to 12 times in 24 hours. Breastfeeding works on a supply-and-demand basis. The more your baby feeds, the more milk your body will produce. That's why it is important to nurse frequently.
Your baby's caloric needs constantly change due to growth spurts. Only your baby knows his or her needs. Feed your baby whenever he or she shows signs of hunger or thirst. These signs include:
- Sucking on hands or fingers
- Smacking lips
Some babies eat every 1 to 3 hours, while others eat every hour for 3 to 5 feedings, then sleep for 3 to 4 hours. Every baby is different.
Keeping Breast Milk Safe
Breast milk storage and heating guidelines:
- Feed your baby fresh milk whenever possible
- Keep milk chilled during transports
- Label milk with date and amount, and refrigerate as soon as possible
- Freeze milk in the smallest amounts your baby may take in a feeding
- Use oldest milk first
- Warm milk by gently swirling the bag in a cup of warm tap water
- Never microwave breast milk, as it destroys the germ-killing cells your baby needs
Breastfeeding can be a special time for you and your baby, but there may be some bumps in the road along the way. Here are some solutions for common breastfeeding issues and concerns:
- Nurse baby on the nipple that is less sore first.
- Try different nursing positions.
- Pump before your baby latches onto your breast. This softens the area. Baby gets a better latch and starts milk flowing.
- Get a good latch by tickling your nipple on your baby's lip so he or she opens their mouth wide. Point your nipple up to the baby's upper lip and nose so he or she has a lot of the lower areola in their mouth.
- If you are still sore after 1 minute of nursing, remove your baby from your breast by gently slipping a finger in to break the seal. Try again to get a good latch.
- Massage and squeeze your breast if the baby becomes sleepy to keep nursing vigorously. Stroking the baby's head, chin, back or feet also helps.
- Look at the shape of your nipple after nursing. It should be round, not pointed or pinched.
Ways to help sore nipples heal:
- Apply breast milk to your nipples after nursing and let air dry.
- Avoid using soaps or lotions on your nipples.
- Change nursing pads when wet. Do not use plastic-lined pads.
- Take over-the-counter medication for pain, like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil).
- Use 100% pure lanolin (Purelan™ or Lansinoh®) or vitamin E capsules on nipples after you nurse. (Do not use lanolin if you are allergic to wool or sensitive to mascara.)
- Apply sparingly to nipples after nursing or pumping.
- Do not wash off before nursing or pumping.
- Pump your breasts on low pressure and feed the pumped milk to your baby.
Blisters, cracking, bleeding and continued pain are not normal. If any of these happen, contact a lactation consultant at 309-672-4242.
UnityPoint at Home offers a variety of breast pumps, pump parts and other breastfeeding aids for sale.
When You Can't Breastfeed
Occasionally, women aren't able to breastfeed exclusively. They may have problems with their milk supply or with medical conditions. We'll help you find the right support systems to help your baby grow strong and healthy.
Contact the Birthing Center
Call 309-672-4852 to schedule a tour of the Birthing Center.
For information about childbirth preparation classes, see our Classes and Events page or call 309-671-2522.