Lactation Services

Because nutrition is one of the most important factors in a baby’s health, CHOC provides lactation services to mothers who wish to breastfeed or pump while their baby is in the hospital. Support is available in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at CHOC and at the CHOC NICU at St. Joseph Hospital, as well as other CHOC hospital units where babies may receive treatment.

Breastfeeding and pumping is different for every mother and baby, and our team is available to assist in any way needed. We also know moms may not be able to be with their baby 24/7, and we can continue to feed your baby your breast milk in times you are away from the hospital.

Mom holding her infant child in the hospital

We are proud to offer comprehensive lactation services for moms and babies during your stay at CHOC.

We provide:

  • One-on-one assistance from lactation experts. CHOC has board-certified lactation consultants as well as certified lactation educators available to assist breastfeeding or pumping moms. Many of our other staff members, including nurses, dietitians and developmental specialists, can also assist families with breastfeeding and pumping, and many have specialty lactation training. Meet our lactation team.
  • Lactation rooms and breast pumps. We provide electric breast pumps and a private place to pump milk for all breastfeeding and pumping moms while you are at CHOC.
  • Meals for moms to get the nutrition they need. Mothers who are breastfeeding or pumping are eligible for a complimentary meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner when moms are here.
  • Assistance in obtaining a breast pump for home. Because many moms want to continue pumping while away from the hospital, we can provide assistance in obtaining a hospital-grade breast pump for home.
  • Supplies to collect and transport milk to the hospital. We will provide all of the supplies you need to pump, collect and transport your milk to the hospital while your baby is staying with us. Supplies include bottles, labels, a breast milk pump kit and a cleaning basin. Follow these guidelines for bringing your milk to the hospital.
  • A state-of-the-art Nutrition Lab for storing, tracking and fortifying mom’s milk. We use a unique barcoding system to ensure your milk is tracked properly and easily provided to your baby as needed. Learn more about the safety and convenience of breast milk handling in our Nutrition Lab.
  • Text messages when a baby’s breast milk supply is getting low. CHOC closely tracks the breast milk you have brought in for your baby. In an effort to reach you when the supply is running low, we offer automated text messaging to let you know when it is time to bring in more milk. This service is optional.
  • Educational materials and classes. Upon your baby’s admission to the hospital, we will provide you with educational materials and a pumping kit that will help you breastfeed or pump while at CHOC. We also host a monthly Skin-to-Skin and Lactation Care class for families. View some of our educational resources here.

A Specially Trained Team

Babies in the hospital often require a special team for feeding. Our lactation consultants have specialized training above and beyond their other distinctions as either a registered nurse (RN) or registered dietitian (RD). These consultants are hands-on with mom and baby and provide one-on-one support and guidance during pumping and breastfeeding. They also train parents to be equal members of a baby’s feeding team.

International board-certified lactation consultants (IBCLC) have completed 1,000 hours in lactation assistance, and 45 continuing education hours, and they have passed the International Breastfeeding Lactation Certification Exam.

Our lactation consultants also work very closely with CHOC’s developmental team which has training and experience in feeding babies who have development challenges. Other members of the lactation team include our certified lactation counselors (CLEC) who provide supplies to pumping moms.

Frequently Asked Questions about Milk Supply

We recommend most moms pump about eight times per day, for no more than 30 minutes at a time, with a five-hour sleep break at night. This may be more or less for some moms. Continue pumping for 2 minutes after the last drop is expressed.
A full milk supply is considered 25-35 ounces per day (if you have multiples, it is 25-35 ounces per day per baby). Your milk supply usually starts out very small. Often moms see an increase on days 3-5 and reach full supply by day 14. Even if you aren’t up to full supply, remember that any amount you produce is valuable and acts like medicine for your baby.
Talk to your nurse about bringing your baby to your breasts with skin-to-skin holding or breastfeeding as soon as possible when your baby is stable. Use warm compresses or showers, massage and breast compressions. We have videos to show you how. Just ask your nurse. Take care of yourself by eating, sleeping and following your doctor’s recommendations.
Certain medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, thyroid problems or hormonal imbalances such as with infertility may affect a mom’s ability to make milk. It is important to take any medications or treatments your doctor prescribes. Rest assured that many moms with a medical condition are still able to make enough milk for their baby. Breast surgeries (especially breast reductions) may also affect your ability to make milk. The more time since the surgery, the more healing and nerve regeneration will occur. The ability to sense the stimulation and respond with a letdown and milk flow will be better. If you are having trouble with milk supply, try to be patient. We know it can be difficult and frustrating. Be gentle with expression and be sure to ease anything that causes pain. To improve milk supply, you might try a larger flange, try pumping breasts separately if breasts need different suction intensities, and try to massage and “milk” your breasts.

Breast Milk Benefits for Mom and Baby

Mom breastfeeding her baby

Nature designed human milk especially for human babies, and it has several advantages over substitutes. Your milk contains just the right balance of nutrients, and it contains them in a form most easily used by the human baby’s immature body systems. Because it was developed for your baby, your milk is also the most gentle on your baby’s systems.

Tips for Collecting and Storing Your Milk

We will provide all of the supplies you need to pump, collect and transport your milk to the hospital while your baby is staying with us. Here are some helpful tips for you to follow.

We recommend using hard plastic or glass bottles, not bags which can reduce the nutrients and infection-fighting cells in your milk.

Be sure to save the very important first milk (colostrum) in the smaller colostrum vials.

Label each bottle and include the date and time you pumped.
Use the basin to wash, dry and store your pump kit parts to prevent contamination.

Instructions on using our pumps, cleaning your kit and flange fitting are located inside.

Other supplies are available from your nurse. Just ask!
Be sure to keep your milk refrigerated or frozen.

Drop your milk off with your nurse when you come to the hospital.

We have a breast milk lab that stores and tracks milk, and also fortifies milk if ordered by a doctor. This reduces contamination and waste of your milk. From processing to feeding your baby, your breast milk is double-checked by staff for accuracy and safety.

Be thinking about milk storage for when your baby goes home. If you have a large milk supply, you may need a deep freezer (7 cubic feet or more).

While your baby is in the hospital, we use these storage guidelines:
  • Room temperature: good for 4 hours
  • Refrigerator: good for 48 hours
  • Freezer: up to good for 1 year
After your baby has left the hospital, we recommend these storage guidelines at home:
  • Room temperature: good for 6 hours
  • Refrigerator: good for Up to 5 days
  • Freezer attached to refrigerator: good for 6 months
  • Deep freezer: good for 1 year

Contact Us

For more information about receiving inpatient lactation services at CHOC, please call us at 714-509-8455.

For outpatient lactation assistance, CHOC partners with St. Joseph Hospital. Please call the St. Joseph Hospital Mother Baby Assessment Center at 714-744-8764.