Lactation & Breastfeeding Program
As a parent to a new baby, you will have to make many choices. Ideally, the choice of how you want to feed your baby should be made before your newborn arrives. Exclusive breastfeeding is the optimal choice for infant nutrition for the first six months to one year of a newborn's life. Our feeding specialists support and encourage breastfeeding; however, our goal is always the safety of the baby and mother. Whether you choose to breastfeed, formula-fed, or both, this decision should be an informed choice made by the mother and baby's family and we will fully support your choice.
Our trained specialists know that families need support before, during, and after delivery with their feeding choices and decisions around birth. As families work through this changing time in their life, St. Bernards fills the gap of educating about breastfeeding, skin-to-skin care, and rooming-in. Regardless of choice for feeding families, the skilled feeding experts at St. Bernards want to help your choice succeed.
Evidence-based medicine shows that prenatal education and postnatal support are vital components of a successful feeding program. We closely follow the recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine and the 10 Steps for Successful Breastfeeding published by WHO/UNICEF. Our staff receives continued education to ensure new families are educated and supported safely and successfully in feeding decisions. Our team is composed of Megan Nicolini, BS, IBCLC; Rachel Cobble, CLC, PCT; Virginia Jackson, BS, CLC; Amirah Koster, BS, IBCLC and; Shawna McMinn, RN, IBCLC.
St. Bernards is a leader in the region for lactation support. Our team understands that prenatal education is crucial for initial and long-term breastfeeding outcomes-- classes are available to any new parents that wish to receive education. Please know that we encourage any family to attend our free classes even if they do not plan to receive care at St. Bernards. View our available classes here.
At the Hospital
The exciting time has arrived! At St. Bernards, we encourage and offer skin-to-skin care regardless of your feeding choice, along with rooming-in. Additionally, we have a fully staffed, well-baby nursery that families can utilize if the need arises. During hospitalization, you will be visited by one of our team members, who will work with you in your feeding method. Our goal is that you feel prepared to take care of your baby by the time you go home. We will closely monitor your baby's weight and offer recommendations based on each individual case.
It is time to take your little bundle home! Even though you are discharged from our hospital care, our staff is still here for you and your baby. Before discharge, we provide each family with a New Beginnings book, including an app for your phone. We know that postnatal support is a vital part of a successful feeding story, which is why we have a Breastfeeding helpline.
Breastfeeding Helpline & Lactation Services
Clinic: 870.207.0421 / Mon-Thur 8am-4:30pm
Medical Center: 870.207.4100 / Mon-Sun 8am-4:30pm
St. Bernards Breastfeeding Helpline is a free service with extended hours for mothers in Northeast Arkansas and Southeast Missouri. Our lactation experts will help you through a wide range of challenges and give you the understanding and support you need to breastfeed your baby with success. Problems with which they may need assistance include but are not limited to:
- Painful or cracked nipples
- Low milk supply
- Plugged ducts
- Breastfeeding twins (or more!)
- Breastfeeding an adopted baby
- Weight checks
- Babies who are slow to gain weight
In addition to phone support, we also offer a Breastfeeding Clinic in which we will do a feeding assessment and a weight check to make sure that all is going well. The clinic is located at 4334 East Highland Drive, Ste. B.
Our goal is to assist you in finding a successful feeding plan. However, remember all mothers and babies are different, and unexpected things can happen. Adjusting your breastfeeding plan while keeping everyone healthy is more important than following a rigid set of rules.
Human Milk Depot
In addition to having the only Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in Eastern Arkansas, we now have the very first human milk collection site affiliated with Mothers' Milk Bank of North Texas in Jonesboro.
Human breast milk is very important to the development and health of premature and sick babies but cannot always be supplied by the mother. It helps our NICU babies have a lower risk for fatal conditions, spend less time in the hospital, and have lower infection rates.
If you have extra breastmilk in your freezer, consider donating it to help fragile babies. Mothers of premature infants often struggle to produce adequate breastmilk for a variety of reasons. For most families, donor human milk is a welcomed gift during one of the most stressful times of their lives. Donating to a nonprofit milk bank ensures that fragile babies in our communities receive safe, optimal nutrition with immunological protection.
The freezer that will house the donated milk is dedicated in memory of Kayla Grace Dunnam, the late daughter of one of our very own NICU nurses, Sierra Dunnam.
If you are interested in becoming a breastmilk donor, you can email email@example.com or call 817.810.0071.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is my baby getting enough milk?
A: Most likely, yes. However, we want you to be sure. If a baby continues showing feeding cues after breastfeeding, we will probably need to re-check the technique and feeding method. Our signs include:
- Nursing constantly
- Crying after most feedings
- Yellowing skin
- Not waking spontaneously or inability to stay awake for feeds
- Trouble latching or sustaining breastfeeding for at least 10 minutes at a time
- Fewer wet or dirty diapers than expected
- Dry lips
If you notice any of these warning signs, contact your pediatrician or family doctor ASAP.
Q: I am considering giving formula; does that make me a bad mother?
A: Not at all! Many women or families decide that breastfeeding is something they don't want to pursue, and we fully respect and support that decision. We encourage you and your family to obtain the pertinent information and answer your questions to make an informed choice. Our team will work with you to provide all the relevant information regarding formula choice, preparation, storage, and administration.
Q: My milk hasn't come in, and I'm considering using a formula for a few days. Am I messing up my chances of getting my baby to breastfeed? What about his/her microbiome (healthy gut bacteria)?
A: Research has shown that using formula supplementation during the first days of life will decrease maternal stress and actually improve your chances of a successful breastfeeding story. This is called: Early Limited Formula Supplementation. If you choose to breastfeed, we encourage you to put the baby to the breast first each time, and then, if the baby continues showing signs of hunger, supplement with formula. The amount of formula will be decided by the baby. As your milk comes in, your baby will take less and less formula until the breastmilk is enough.
Initial research showed that the microbiome (healthy gut bacteria) could be altered by formula supplementation. However, further, more extensive, and complete research has demonstrated that limited formula supplementation does not alter your baby's microbiome.
At St. Bernards, we have Donor Breast Milk that can be provided to term infants to supplement their feeds while in the hospital. Our Donor Breast Milk comes from a Certified Breast Milk Bank that screens and pasteurizes the breast milk before it's ready to be given.
Q: Why don't I get anything with pumping?
A: Initially, pumping can be frustrating for some moms due to colostrum being thick and sometimes difficult to get with a pump. Pumping followed by hand expression will usually get you a few drops or sometimes a little more. Remember to keep pumping on the schedule that our Lactation Consultants give you, as this will stimulate your milk to come in.