Breastfeeding Resources for Moms in the NICU

By Crystal Deming, RN, lactation consultant at CHOC Children’s

Surgery, ventilators, central lines with IV nutrition, and medications are just some of the tools that can save and improve lives of babies in the CHOC Children’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Yet some parents may overlook a mother’s own breast milk as lifesaving or as a medication as well. In the NICU, our mantra to new moms is “Your Milk is Medicine.” From the moment our families are admitted to our care, we begin the process of helping moms understand the value of their breast milk for their infant, giving them helpful information, necessary equipment and continual support from our multidisciplinary team, to help them produce and express breast milk for their own infant and to support breastfeeding when it becomes appropriate.

breastfeeding

Kangaroo Care

Our goal is to lessen the strain of separation by including families in the care team, by collaborating with parents and promoting their participation in the care of their infant. We initiate skin to skin contact, or Kangaroo Care, as soon as possible and have protocols to do this safely with even the smallest infants. Families later comment that this first experience holding their infant was a time of healing and bonding. This intimate interaction provides a break from the stress that can come with not being able to take your baby home from the hospital right away. Moms, babies and family members secrete oxytocin with this skin to skin touch and that gives them a sense of relaxation, wellbeing and promotes bonding. Skin to skin care often increases a mom’s milk supply, and we consider this holding the first step toward breastfeeding.

Assistance in Obtaining Breastfeeding Supplies

We can assist moms in obtaining a breast pump for home or connect them with a free pump to borrow, or help her submit a prescription to her insurance until she can obtain one of her own to keep. From hour one, we help teach hand expression and techniques to improve milk removal. Later we help moms maintain their milk supply, while supporting hydration and nutrition with our meal program, where some meals are provided free of charge when moms are in the hospital with their baby. We can also help with breast and nipple issues that can develop with prolonged pumping, as well as assist with storage when moms have a full milk supply but are waiting for their little one to grow into full size feedings.

Team Support

With developmental specialists, lactation consultants and specialty trained nurses, our team helps moms to adapt positioning and use tools to assist latching. We help moms learn the special behaviors of a premature or healing infant and to pace their feeding accordingly. Each mother/infant relationship is unique and our goal is to help families to have a fruitful and satisfying experience together. For some this can become exclusive breastfeeding and for others, partial breastfeeding that is neither stressful nor overwhelming. And for some we support their difficulty in producing milk while continuing to support skin to skin care and parental involvement in decision making and for the care of their infant in other ways.

World Breastfeeding Week

World Breastfeeding Week is an annual health observance recognized by more than 170 countries around the world, being celebrated this year from August 1-7. One of its goals is to show the importance of, “Good Health & Wellbeing,” and how incorporating breastfeeding has been shown to improve the lives of infants and children. Breastfeeding supports a baby’s health, development and even survival, but we also recognize there are health benefits for their mothers as well.

Learn more about the benefits of breast milk.

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July is National Ice Cream Month

Summer is the peak season for ice cream consumption. In 1984, July was declared national ice cream month. Historically, ice cream as we know it first emerged in the 17th century in France. In the 13th century, Marco Polo brought back from China descriptions of a sherbet-like desert. Today, we have so many flavors and types to choose from!

CHOC Children's Clinical Nutrition and Lactation Services

Here are a few more fun facts about this refreshing treat:

– Next to cookies, ice cream stands as the best-selling treat in America!

– The top five ice cream consuming countries in the world are: New Zealand, United States, Australia, Finland and Sweden

– It takes about 50 licks to finish a single ice cream cone.

– It takes 3 gallons of milk to make 1 gallon of ice cream.

So what about the sugar content and the overall calories in each ice cream serving? Always read the product label to get the cold truth.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards for fat content for ice cream include:
•”ice cream” contains at least 10 percent milkfat
•”Low-fat” ice cream contains a maximum of 3 grams of total fat per ½ cup serving.
•”Non-fat” ice cream contains less than 0.5 grams of total fat per ½ cup serving.

When it comes to ice cream toppings, choose wisely. Instead of whipped cream, hot fudge or chocolate sauce, try cut up fresh fruits, such as blueberries, which are in season, or a small sprinkle of chopped nuts. To go leaner, skip the ice cream cone and eat your scoop in a cup.

So this summer, enjoy your ice cream in moderation and be sure to top it with a fresh berry!

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