Breast-Feeding while Your Child Is in the Hospital
We would like to give you information about breast-feeding, pumping and storing breast milk while your child is in the hospital. Below are common questions parents may have.
Is it better for my baby to breast-feed while in the hospital?
Babies that are breast-fed spend less energy eating than if they were fed by bottle. The level of oxygen in their blood and their body temperature stays more stable. Breast milk is easier to digest than formula. It is also comforting for both mom and baby.
Is there a breast pump I can use while I am here?
Yes, your nurse can order one for you and will show you how to use it. Then, if you are not here, the nurses can still feed your child your breast milk.
Is it safe to warm up breast milk in the microwave?
No. Microwaves kill the antibodies in the breast milk that help your baby fight off germs. It can also burn the baby since certain spots in the milk can get hot very quickly.
What should I report to the nurses?
The nurses will ask you to tell them how many minutes your baby fed on each breast. Tell them about any medicines you are taking, since some medicines can be passed on to your child in the breast milk. It is important to avoid alcohol and limit smoking and caffeine as much as you can while you are breastfeeding. It is vital for you to drink plenty of fluids to keep up a good supply of breast milk. Feel free to ask a nurse for your own pitcher of water in the room. Your nurse will instruct you on how to order from our Room Service system.
If my baby is not able to take breast milk right now, how do I store pumped breast milk in the hospital?
- Your nurse will give you clean cups with lids and labels for name, hospital Medical Record (MR) number, date and time of pumping.
- Wash your hands before pumping so that the breast milk stays clean.
- Do not fill the cup completely full since the milk will expand when it freezes.
- The milk may separate during storage. The thinner part of the milk may rise to the top. Before feeding, gently swirl the cup to mix the milk. The color may vary from yellowish to brownish to bluish depending on what you have been eating. It may smell different than fresh breast milk.
- Breast milk should be refrigerated within 1 hour of pumping.
- After pumping your nurse will put the labeled cups in the refrigerator if you will use it within 24 hours. If you plan to use it after 24 hours, it can be stored in our freezer for up to two weeks. Ask the nurse to get the breast milk ready for you when you need it.
- Milk should be stored toward the back of the freezer where the temperature stays the most stable.
- The length of time the milk may be frozen depends on the type of freezer you have:
- 2 weeks for a freezer compartment inside the refrigerator
- 3 to 6 months for a refrigerator/freezer with separate doors (0° F freezer)
- 6 to 12 months for a chest or upright manual defrost deep freezer that is opened rarely and maintains temperature of –4° F.
- Use the oldest milk from the freezer first.
- The frozen milk can be thawed by placing it in the refrigerator the night before use. Once it is thawed it can be kept in the refrigerator for only 24 hours, and then should be thrown away if not used.
- The milk can also be thawed and warmed by running it under warm water or swirling the cup in a bowl of warm water. (Do not microwave.)
- The baby can drink the milk cool, at room temperature, or slightly warm.
- Do not re-freeze breast milk.
- Milk left in the bottle after a feeding should be thrown away.
Is there someone that can help me with breast-feeding questions?
Yes. There is an expert in breast-feeding (certified lactation consultant) here in the hospital. There are also many nurses and doctors who have experience in this area. Just ask your nurse and they can call someone for you.
Do you have books or websites on breast-feeding that I can look at while I am here?
Yes. The Children’s Hospital has a great book called: The Breast-feeding Answer Book. Pages may be copied on request. Some helpful breastfeeding websites are:
www.aap.org (American Academy of Pediatrics)
www.lalecheleague.org (A worldwide breast-feeding information and support organization)
Please ask for any help. We hope that this information and our support will help you with your breast-feeding choices.
The Spanish version of this Health Facts for You is #6974.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 10/25/2010
Copyright © 04/27/2010 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#5947
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