At Rush, we create an optimal environment for breastfeeding, including offering resources for families who may need additional support to feed comfortably. While not every mom may be able to breastfeed, it's our goal that you have the tools to try to be successful.
What Are the Benefits of Breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding offers the following benefits to both baby and mom:
- Added nutrients and antibodies: Your milk gives your baby important nutrients and antibodies, particularly at the beginning of life. These health benefits protect against viruses, bacteria and illnesses such as allergies, ear infections and asthma.
- Healthy weight: Studies show that breastfeeding promotes healthy weight gain, and breastfed babies have lower childhood obesity rates.
- More bonding: Breastfeeding helps babies bond with their mothers more quickly.
- Less cost: It is a low-cost way to feed your baby compared to the price of formula.
- Postpartum recovery: Your body releases hormones when breastfeeding that help your uterus contract and return to its smaller size, reducing blood loss after delivery. Also, breastfeeding may help with weight loss.
- Wellness for mom: Breastfeeding may lower a woman's risk of developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer, diabetes and postpartum depression.
Breastfeeding Resources at Rush
Both Rush University Medical Center and Rush Copley Medical Center provide the below resources to support successful breastfeeding:
- Breastfeeding classes for expectant parents
- Skin-to-skin contact between baby and mom immediately after birth or when mom is able following a C-section
- Bedside breastfeeding support within the first hour after delivery
- Private lactation consultations in your room during your hospital stay to learn feeding cues, proper positioning, latching and detaching
- Education for both parents on supply-and-demand principles of breastfeeding, how to assess if a baby is feeding properly and tips for the safe handling and storage of breast milk
- Lactation support after you leave the hospital, by phone or in-person
- Support group meetings to offer support and encouragement for breastfeeding moms
What Supplies Are Needed to Breastfeed?
You need only a few supplies to be successful at breastfeeding.
- A cover if you'd prefer privacy when breastfeeding in public
- A breast pump allows you to provide breast milk from a bottle so another caregiver can feed your baby or if your baby has latching challenges
- Milk storage bags to store or freeze your breast milk
- Nursing bras or tank tops for comfort and convenience when breastfeeding
- Nursing stools encourage good breastfeeding positioning by bringing your child closer to your breast
Many insurance providers cover all or most of the costs of a breast pump. During your third trimester, talk to your Rush obstetric provider to learn more.
You can also purchase many of these supplies at the Breastfeeding & Beyond Boutique at Rush University Medical Center or at the Rush Copley Medical Center's Lactation Center.
Can I Breastfeed if My Baby is in the NICU?
Studies show breast milk as a powerful tool in helping small and vulnerable babies. If your baby is in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), either at Rush University Medical Center or Rush Copley Medical Center, you'll have the option of pumping and providing your own breast milk. Your milk may be delivered through a feeding tube until your baby is strong enough to latch on their own. Many of our NICU rooms include personal refrigerators for breast milk storage.
Even if you don't plan to provide your own milk, we encourage you to pump the colostrum — the early milk your body makes after giving birth — so it can be fed to your baby. Colostrum contains high amounts of antibodies and other substances that protect babies from infection, diseases and other complications.
Rush Excellence in Breastfeeding Support
- Internationally recognized for breastfeeding support: Rush University Medical Center was designated a Baby-Friendly birth facility, an international honor recognizing our high level of care and support for breastfeeding and mother-baby bonding. Rush Copley Medical Center, with its Lactation Center, offers a similar high level of support.
- Trained specialists understand your challenges: After delivery and through your hospital stay, our lactation experts offer bedside appointments to help you learn to successfully breastfeed. Once you return home, our lactation consultants continue to help you navigate any challenges you may have, including breastfeeding in public, milk supply and juggling breastfeeding while working or with multiple children.
- Championing breastfeeding in the NICU: In addition to lactation consultants and support groups, Rush University Medical Center offers our Mothers' Milk Club which connects moms in the NICU with breastfeeding peer counselors. These counselors combine mom-to-mom support with extra knowledge and experience about lactation and breastfeeding. Rush Copley Medical Center also encourages breastfeeding by offering lactation consultations in the NICU and utilizing donor milk (from an approved donor bank) to feed low birth weight babies.
- Hospital pumps available during your stay: We offer hospital-grade breast pumps during your stay at our Family Birth Centers in Chicago and Aurora, as well as help learning to pump. If your baby is in the NICU, we offer pumps and refrigerators for storing your milk.