We support and encourage all mothers in their choice of feeding. We do recommend that you consider breastfeeding or providing breast milk
for your new baby for as long as you can. View the videos in our Breastfeeding Series below for more information about reasons to breastfeed, benefits to mom, latching, nipple pain, and more.
Breastfeeding Support, Wherever You Are
We offer breastfeeding support from home! Call 501-526-3558 to set up a tele-lactation appointment with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. Private insurance and Medicaid are accepted for lactation consultation services.
UAMS Health Medical Center is a baby-friendly designated hospital. If you experience someone not supporting the breastfeeding mother, please let the unit managers know immediately. If you are pumping your milk, please be sure to check on your supply with the milk lab often!
The Benefits of Breast Milk
Breast milk is the food your baby’s body is designed to eat. Breast milk helps to develop your baby’s immune system, digestive system, and brain, protecting them from illness. Breast milk contains hundreds of compounds designed to help your baby grow. Formula does not contain these protective compounds and can, in some cases, increase a child’s risk of disease.
Mom’s own breast milk can:
- Decrease your baby’s chance of death from SIDS
- Decrease risk of serious infections
- Improve brain and eye development
- Help your baby’s immune system grow healthy and protect them better
- If baby is born premature, mom’s own milk can decrease your baby’s chances of having necrotizing enterocolitis, chronic lung disease, and retinopathy of prematurity (all serious illnesses).
Providing breast milk for a baby in the NICU may be one of the best things you can do for your premature or sick baby. Your baby may be too small or too sick to breastfeed at the breast so you may have to pump your milk.
Your baby may have a feeding tube and receive the milk that way. There are very few reasons why someone cannot or should not provide breast milk for their baby. Please talk with your baby’s nurse, a lactation consultant, or your baby’s doctor before you quit providing milk. If you cannot provide milk for your baby, we offer donor milk to the babies in the NICU at UAMS.
If you need help getting a pump, please talk to your baby’s nurse or a lactation consultant. Pumping for your baby in the NICU can come with some challenges. If you need help with your milk supply, try doing some Kangaroo Care (if your baby’s nurse says it is okay). Skin-to-skin contact may help milk supply along with some support from the lactation team, your family and friends, and all of the other staff at UAMS.
Donor milk can be used when a mother’s own milk is not available. Donor milk is not like mom’s milk and does NOT provide the same benefits as those listed above but it does help decrease the risk of necrotizing enterocolitis in premature babies. Learn more about feeding and nutrition for preterm babies.
Breastfeeding Can Benefit Mom, Too
Breastfeeding decreases a mom’s chances of having a stroke, heart attack, and breast or ovarian cancer. Breastfeeding also helps a mom’s body recover from the changes that happen during her pregnancy.
Lactation (breastfeeding) support will be available after the delivery of your beautiful baby if you need it.
Cue-Based Feeding For a Baby in the NICU
Cue-based feeding means watching for your baby to show you when he/she is hungry.
Feeding your baby only when you see these signs helps them reach full feeds sooner. For that reason, we focus on the quality of the feed, not the amount. Your baby’s cues or signs may also show times in the day that the baby is more alert allowing us to plan ahead. Once your baby is ready there are things that we all need to look for when deciding if your baby is hungry and ready to eat. The nurse will score the baby based upon the cues shown and a breast or bottle feed will be offered when the baby is ready.
Some of the cues your baby may show are:
- Sucks on pacifier
- Turning head
- Seeking and rooting for food
- Fingers in mouth
- Stable vital signs
During the feeding, there may be some signs that your baby is stressed or needs to stop feeding. Some of these signs are:
- Pulling away from bottle
- Arms extended or floppy
- Frowning or looked stressed
- Poor seal on the nipple
- Holding their breath
- Breathing events
- Aspiration concerns: watery eyes, coughing/choking etc.
If your baby loses weight, cannot maintain temperature, or there are concerns of aspiration their feeding plan will be changed. If you have any questions or concerns, please let your baby’s nurse or doctor know.
- If you have lactation questions please call the IDHI Call Center at 501-526-7425. This is a hotline, answered by a nurse, 24/7.
- Questions about medications and mother’s milk? Call the Infant Risk Center At Texas Tech University Health Science Center at 806-352-2519.
- You may also call UAMS Lactation Services at 501-526-3558. This is a warm-line, so you can expect a returned phone call within 48 hours.
Here is a Breastfeeding 101 module you can view