Children's Hospital Colorado
NEONATAL INTENSIVE CARE UNIT (NICU)
NEONATAL INTENSIVE CARE UNIT (NICU)
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NICU Breastfeeding Support Program

We recognize the importance of breastfeeding and breast milk for your baby. Your breast milk is designed to meet the nutritional needs of your baby and breastfeeding strengthens your bond with your baby. We create an environment that promotes breastfeeding and breast milk feeding in our neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). We support the American Academy of Pediatrics' and the American Academy of Family Physicians' position that breast milk is the optimal form of nutrition for infants, especially those with serious illnesses. At Children’s Hospital Colorado, we provide multiple support services to help you breastfeed your baby or provide them with breast milk for optimal nutrition.

What is the NICU Breastfeeding Support Program?

A woman breastfeeding her baby

Often, it’s hard for babies in the NICU to breastfeed due to their medical needs. Breast milk is still a critical part of your baby’s nutrition and overall care, and feeding your baby is essential to building your bond with your baby. Our team members have specialized training and many approaches to help you breastfeed or provide breast milk in the NICU. We employ research-backed strategies and work with your entire care team to meet your feeding goals for your baby.

Breastfeeding support services in the NICU

From before birth to your time in the NICU to going home with your baby, we have experts to support you at every step of your journey. With one of the most experienced NICU breastfeeding support programs in the country, we have experience helping with breastfeeding issues, milk supply, pumping and any other questions you have.

Breastfeeding consultation before birth

If you have received a prenatal diagnosis and will be delivering in our Colorado Fetal Care Center, our lactation consultants will start providing you expert advice early. You will meet with a registered nurse certified in lactation counseling who will ask you about your breastfeeding goals. They will then review all the resources that will be available to you after birth and help you develop a plan specific for your baby’s condition and your goals.

Breastfeeding consultation in the NICU

Our certified lactation consultants are nurses with expertise in helping families in the NICU. They help families develop a feeding care plan that incorporates your baby’s healthcare needs along with your breastfeeding goals. We employ a multidisciplinary approach to work with your entire care team and show respect for cultural diversity to improve your family’s feeding outcomes.

Our lactation consultants work with you from the prenatal (before birth) period, through your stay in the NICU and help coordinate care with our Breastfeeding Management Clinic, which helps you manage breastfeeding challenges when you leave the hospital. Our Clinic features a unique “Trifecta Team” that includes a pediatrician with breastfeeding expertise, a clinical psychologist and a lactation consultant to help you with a range of breastfeeding issues. The clinical team travels to multiple locations and visits are covered my most insurance plans.

We help you with each transition in care to make the process as smooth as possible for your family.

Children’s Colorado lactation consultants help moms who are:

  • Not able to nurse for days or weeks
  • Concerned about milk supply
  • Concerned about how to breastfeed their premature baby or baby with special needs
  • Taking medicine or on a special diet
  • Trying to figure out how to go back to work and keep breastfeeding or pumping

Breastfeeding services our lactation consultants provide include:

  • One-on-one consultations with a certified lactation nurse
  • Educational materials and videos on breastfeeding
  • Short-term loans of breast pumps for mothers of babies who are hospitalized
  • Referrals to the Breastfeeding Management Clinic

Milk Lab

As a leader in neonatal care, Children’s Colorado was one of the first hospitals in the country to develop a centralized lab for storing and preparing breast milk. Our Milk Lab is considered the gold standard, which many other pediatric hospitals visit and model their labs after.

Our Milk Lab stores and prepares breast milk, both your milk and from donors, for infants throughout the hospital. We prepare your milk to meet the specific nutritional needs of your baby. We can also provide your baby with pasteurized milk from donors if needed. We are here seven days a week to support your family and our lab is staffed by caregivers specifically trained in safely handling and preparing breast milk.

Why choose Children’s Colorado for breastfeeding support services?

We recognize the challenges of breastfeeding a baby in the NICU when they are likely dealing with other medical issues or special needs. Because our NICU has one of the highest patient volumes in the nation, we have extensive experience providing lactation support to families in your shoes.

We’re nationally recognized for the number of babies from our NICU who are able to go home and successfully have breast milk feedings. From consultation before birth to going home, we work hard to make it possible for you and your baby to share the experience of successful feeding.

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