Family-centered care is at the heart of St. Bernards Birthcare Center. When your new addition is born, our birth teams encourage families to participate in newborn care. Typically after delivery, mother and newborn are moved to the postpartum care unit located on the fourth floor for recovery. We transition our newborns and families to the fourth floor because it is a quieter environment allowing families to bond with their infant and mothers to recover comfortably. In cases where infants must remain in the NICU, these extended recovery rooms enable mothers to stay closer to their babies.
Caring for mothers and babies postpartum is a pillar of service for St. Bernards. Our skilled professionals are prepared to provide support ranging from advice and counseling for breastfeeding to dealing with postpartum depression.
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. Whether you choose to breastfeed, formula-fed, or both, this decision should be an informed choice made by the mother and baby's family. 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 unless there is a reason they should not. Ideally, breastfeeding should begin as soon as possible after birth – within the first hour.
BENEFITS OF BREASTFEEDING:
- Increases level of immune protection
- Decreases risk of diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity & ear infections
- Helps brain development
- Changes depending on growth & development of baby
- Good five hours at room temperature, five days in the fridge, and five months in the freezer.
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.
The 10 Steps for Successful Breastfeeding published by WHO/UNICEF compliments the guidance and structure of our lactation experts' years of knowledge to St. Bernard families. As an ongoing example of our commitment to excellence, our staff receives continued education to ensure new families are educated and supported safely and successfully in feeding decisions.
Researchers have found through evidence-based medicine that prenatal education and postnatal support are vital components of a successful feeding program. Our skilled and highly trained physicians, nurses, and lactation consultants are always available for your family.
St. Bernards is a leader in the region for lactation support. Our staff includes three board-certified lactation consultants available to mothers while in hospital and after discharge. Our team understands that prenatal education is crucial for initial and long-term breastfeeding outcomes.
Our lactation consultants are ready to assist mothers at the bedside after delivery, in the NICU when a new baby needs particular attention, and in the outpatient clinic after discharge.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call 870.207.0421.
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 International Board-Certified Lactation Consultants, 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.
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.
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.
Having a baby can be an exciting and emotional time. At times it can also feel very overwhelming. After birth, many have experiences of feeling weepy, moody, exhausted, unable to sleep, anxious, and nervous. The changes happening in your body make all of these feelings normal.
Some find it surprising, but about 80 percent of new moms have baby blues. It is caused by rapidly changing hormones and physical changes such as milk coming in. The great news is these symptoms will go away on their own, and it's not an illness.
To combat the transformation within, you ask for help from others when you need it and get as much rest as possible. Even little "cat naps" can help. If the symptoms persist more than 2–3 weeks after the birth of your baby, call your doctor and seek help.
One in every 8 to 10 women experience postpartum depression. It affects 20 percent of women within the first year of childbirth, after a miscarriage, or stillbirth. Postpartum depression (PPD) is not a character flaw or sign of personal weakness. It is not an indication that there is anything wrong with your ability to be a mother. PPD is treatable, but many do not understand the facts, wait too long to get help, or never seek treatment.
The symptoms of PPD can range from mild blues to severe depression. The sign of depression can look different for different people; some may experience mild, moderate, or severe cases of depression. However, there is no need for you or your loved one to struggle alone. It is common for new and experienced mothers to feel out of control, but with help, they get back on track and feel good again.
If you think you or a loved one might have postpartum depression, please reach out to your OB-GYN, primary care provider, or licensed counselor.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800.273.TALK
- National Drug and Alcohol Treatment Hotline: 800.662.HELP
- National Child Abuse Hotline: 800.4.A.CHILD