Breast Milk Benefits for Mom and Baby


“Breast milk is the ideal food for babies. It has the vitamins, protein and fat that a baby needs to grow. It’s easy to digest, contains antibodies that help the baby fight off illnesses and lowers the baby’s risk for having asthma, allergies and becoming obese,” says Dr. Bixby, CHOC’s medical director of lactation services. Babies exclusively breastfed for the first six months also tend to have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses and diarrhea, Dr. Bixby says. Plus, breastfeeding helps mom and baby bond. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the World Health Organization all strongly recommend breastfeeding. And, it’s free!


In the case where a mom can’t produce or sustain her own milk supply, for whatever reason, donor human milk is an excellent alternative to a mother’s breast milk or formula, says Dr. Bixby. “Donor milk isn’t as good as the mother’s own milk but it’s way better than formula, especially for preterm babies or those with gastrointestinal or digestive issues that make it harder for the baby to digest food. Breast milk is designed to help move the gut better. It is a limited resource so at CHOC, we mostly use donor milk for preterm babies under 32 weeks old and also at times for some of our surgical patients.”


CHOC’s Clinical Nutrition and Lactation Services department seeks to be a helpful source of nutrition and lactation information for patients, their families and the community. Individualized, family-centered and culturally sensitive lactation care is part of CHOC’s interdisciplinary approach to healthcare and wellness. CHOC has board-certified lactation consultants on hand to help patients who are breastfeeding or receiving donor breast milk. For information about inpatient lactation services at CHOC, call 714-509-8455.


  • Percentage of infants in California who were breastfed in 2013: 91.6
  • Percentage of infants nationwide breastfed at 6 months (infants born in 2010) – up from 35% of infants born in 2000: 49%

Meet Dr. Bixby - CHOC Physician

Dr. Christine Bixby is CHOC’s medical director of lactation services. Dr. Bixby completed her fellowship in neonatology at Harbor UCLA Medical Center and also completed her residency and internship training in pediatrics at Harbor UCLA Medical Center. She completed a fellowship in neonatology in a joint program between CHOC and Harbor UCLA Medical Center. Dr. Bixby specializes in caring for premature infants and is involved in research studies focusing on issues related to breast milk, establishing a milk supply and using breast milk for premature babies.

Dr. Bixby’s philosophy of care: “My philosophy of care is to bring in the parents and family as part of the healthcare team and making sure they are educated and comfortable with the care we are giving their children.”

University of California, Davis, School of Medicine

Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine
Pediatrics – General

Dr. Christine Bixby

New Process Leads to Safer Breast Milk Handling

CHOC is seeing fewer breast milk feeding errors after a more than two-year initiative to redesign the process for safer and more efficient handling.

With very few government regulations in place, hospitals across the country struggle to establish best practices in handling breast milk, and CHOC is no different. Busy nurses are often tasked with collecting, labeling, inventorying and distributing dozens of bottles during a shift, amidst other critical responsibilities.

Mom with her infant in the NICU

Podcast: Nutrition for Breastfeeding Moms

CHOC clinical dieticians Sue Freck and Gina O’Toole

Nursing mothers are providing their babies with nutrients to help ensure their growth – but what about mom’s diet?

In the latest CHOC Radio podcast, CHOC clinical dieticians Sue Freck and Gina O’Toole address many questions that breastfeeding moms may have about their own nutrition.

Donating Breast Milk to CHOC

CHOC has long relied on donated pasteurized breast milk to help provide the best nutrition to infants receiving care in its neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

Now, CHOC offers a breast milk donation service that allows women to donate extra breast milk in the name of CHOC.

Mom feeding her baby in the NICU

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