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Breastfeeding and Lactation Program

Breastfeeding is the greatest gift you can give your baby. Breast milk provides essential nutrients that are important for your baby’s growth and development. While breastfeeding is a natural process, it is something that you and your baby will learn to do together. 


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Prenatal Lactation Consults 

We offer prenatal consultation for families expecting a baby with medical complications that may require surgery or hospitalization after your child is born to help you prepare for how this will impact your lactation experience. 

Inpatient Services

If your baby is admitted to our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, we offer a number of services to support the breastfeeding of your baby. This includes:

  • One-on-one breastfeeding instruction if you are learning to breastfeed or are having difficulties breastfeeding
  • Support if you are separated from your baby and unable to breastfeed, including help establishing breast milk production and maintaining your milk supply
  • Help when your baby is ready to transition to breastfeeding
  • Consultations for specialty feeding devices
  • Assistance with lactation complications
  • Breast pump education
  • Breast pump rental

Outpatient Services 

For assistance with breastfeeding, we offer outpatient lactation consulting services on our Akron Children's Hospital Akron campus. We also provide one-on-one classes.

Our lactation consultants are here to support you and your baby throughout the learning process to help ensure your breastfeeding success. They are experienced pediatric nurses who are also International Board-Certified Lactation Consultants. They can help you:

  • Establish a milk supply
  • Use a breast pump
  • Adjust feeding positions to help your baby latch onto the breast
  • Breastfeed twins or triplets 
  • Breastfeed a premature or special needs baby
  • Manage nutritional needs to ensure your baby’s healthy growth and weight gain
  • Provide breast milk when you are separated from your baby, such as during a hospital stay
  • Obtain referrals for your baby’s medical conditions that require additional care

Our lactation consultants are available to provide follow-up support by phone and can also help fathers get involved in the breastfeeding process. 

Because we recognize the many health advantages of breastfeeding for mom and baby, we provide our breastfeeding employees with a supportive environment and the resources to express breast milk during work hours. This includes:

  • Flexible breaks to accommodate milk expression
  • Private places to express breast milk
  • Breast pumps and refrigeration for storage
  • Prenatal and postpartum lactation education and staff support

Patient Resources

Our lactation team understands you may have many questions about breastfeeding and pumping. We want you to have all the information you need to feel comfortable and offer several resources to support you in breastfeeding your baby.

Akron Children's Family Resource Center provides health information for families, providers and communities. In addition to the recommended resources below, you may also visit the Family Resource Center to learn more about breastfeeding. 

Recommended Resources


“The Breastfeeding Book: Everything You Need to Know About Nursing Your Child from Birth Through Weaning” by Martha Sears and William Sears

“The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” by La Leche League International

“Mothering Multiples, Breastfeeding & Caring for Twins or More!” by Karen Kerkhoff Gromada

“Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers” by Nancy Mohrbacher and Kathleen Kendall-Tackett

Apps for Android/iOS devices

  • Compass® by March of Dimes 
  • Baby Tracker: Nursing
  • iBaby Feed Timer
  • Total Baby 
  • Milk Maid 
  • Baby Nursing/Breast Feeding
  • Eat Sleep
  • Baby Feeding Log


Black Mom Breastfeeding Resources

Breast Milk Donation

Breast milk can be donated to help premature and ill babies who are unable to breastfeed. Donated breast milk is pasteurized, cultured and shipped to hospitals across the country, where it is used to help these fragile infants. 

Some grieving moms find comfort in turning the loss of their baby into an opportunity to honor their child’s memory by donating breast milk. Our lactation team is sympathetic to your grieving process and can help you. Please contact the Breastfeeding and Lactation Program for assistance.

For more information about donating breast milk, visit the OhioHealth Mothers’ Milk Bank.

To start the donation process, contact the Ohio Health Mothers’ Milk Bank at 614-566-0630 or


Is it OK to receive the COVID-19 vaccine while I’m breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding does not prevent you from choosing to receive the vaccine. If you are breastfeeding, we recommend that you discuss the risks and benefits of getting the vaccine with your health care provider prior to receiving the vaccination.

I have COVID-19. How do I safely breastfeed?

Coronavirus has not been found in breast milk, so it’s safe to breastfeed your baby if you have COVID-19. However, you could spread the virus to your baby through tiny droplets that spread when you talk, cough or sneeze. Talk to your doctor to help decide whether you should continue to breastfeed and how to do it safely. Your breast milk is the best nutrition for your baby and can protect against many illnesses. While you are sick, you (or someone else) can give your baby expressed breast milk.

What are the benefits of breastfeeding for my baby? 

Breastfeeding your baby offers many benefits. Breast milk provides the right amount of fat, sugar, water and protein necessary for your baby’s growth and also contains antibodies that protect your baby from infection. Most babies find breastmilk easier to digest. Allergies and asthma occur less often in breastfed babies. Human milk from the breast is always sterile. Studies have shown that breastfeeding may contribute to higher IQs and faster development for your baby. The skin-to-skin contact experienced during breastfeeding will help you and your baby bond. Breastfeeding also reduces the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).

What are the benefits of breastfeeding for me?  

Breastfeeding also offers many benefits for new moms. Your uterus will return to its original size sooner and bleeding after childbirth may be reduced. Many women find their pregnancy weight is lost more quickly when they breastfeed. Skin-to-skin contact during breastfeeding promotes bonding with your baby and the risk of postpartum depression is reduced. In addition, breast milk is free and always available.

Are there risks to me or my baby if I do not breastfeed? 

Full-term babies who are not breastfed have an increased risk of: 

  • Hospitalization for lower respiratory infections in the first year
  • Diarrhea and vomiting
  • Acute ear infections
  • Asthma, eczema and diabetes
  • SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
  • Childhood obesity and some childhood cancers

Mothers who do not breastfeed have an increased risk of:

  • Postpartum depression
  • Breast or ovarian cancer
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Osteoporosis

How can I learn more about breastfeeding?

There are many resources available to help you understand the process, challenges and rewards that come with  learning how to breastfeed. You can make an appointment with a lactation consultant, attend group classes or access online resources. You may also find it helpful to talk to friends who have breastfed.

 What can or can’t I eat when I breastfeed?

You can eat whatever you want, while making sure to eat a well-balanced diet. Contact your doctor, dietitian or lactation consultant for healthy eating guidelines.

Can I take medication and breastfeed?

There are many medications that are safe to take while you are breastfeeding and some that are not. Talk with your doctor or lactation consultant to review the medications you are taking.

Why is my breast tender or painful?

If you have a hard lump or swelling that is tender or painful, you may have a blocked or plugged milk duct. A plugged duct usually happens gradually and affects only one breast. It will typically feel more painful before breastfeeding or pumping, and less tender, less lumpy or smaller afterward.  

Another common problem is mastitis, an inflammation of breast tissue that may be caused by infection. You may have mastitis if you have:

  • Breast tenderness or your breast feels warm to the touch
  • Redness, often in the shape of a wedge 
  • Pain or burning sensation
  • Chills, feeling feverish or a temperature of 101ºF or higher
  • Flu-like symptoms including body aches and feeling tired or run down 

Contact your doctor or lactation consultant to discuss care and treatment options.

Can I microwave breast milk?

We do not recommend microwaving breast milk. It can destroy nutrients and the antibodies that will help your baby fight infection. It can also create hot spots that may burn your baby’s mouth. We do recommend placing refrigerated or frozen breast milk into either a warming unit or lukewarm water to gently bring it to room temperature.

How long can I refrigerate or freeze breastmilk?

Breast milk should be stored in a bottle or storage bag in the deepest part of the refrigerator or freezer, not on the doors. It can be stored for 8 days in the refrigerator and 2-4 months in your freezer.

Can I breastfeed my baby who has a cleft lip or cleft palate?

When babies have a cleft lip and/or palate, the opening may make it difficult for your baby to create the suction needed to latch onto the breast and take in the milk. Because of this, breastfeeding may not be an option. Most babies with a cleft lip and/or palate cannot get all the milk they need from the breast, so they also require supplemental bottle feeding.

Can I continue to breastfeed once I go back to work?

Yes, we encourage you to continue breastfeeding. You will need:  

  • A hospital-grade breast pump. Check with your insurance company to see if a hospital-grade breast pump is covered. If it is, ask your lactation consultant to help you obtain one.
  • Breast milk storage containers and labels to identify the date and time when your breast milk was pumped.
  • Patience. It may take some time for you to produce milk for your baby and learn how to use the breast pump. It may also take time for your baby to learn how to bottle feed.

How do I wean my baby? How do I stop breast milk production? 

The time it takes to stop milk production varies. The goal is to stay comfortable during the process. Your milk supply will gradually decrease with more time between breastfeeding or pumping sessions, and when you breastfeed or pump for shorter periods of time. 

To gradually decrease your milk production you can:

  • Start the process by wearing a snug-fitting bra day and night
  • Apply cold compresses to the breasts
  • Take pain relievers to relieve increased breast fullness or discomfort
  • Breastfeed or pump fewer times during the day
  • Breastfeed or pump just to the point that you no longer have discomfort or until your breasts no longer feel full or tight

Can I donate my breast milk?  

Yes, breast milk can be donated and helps premature and ill babies who are unable to feed from the breast. Donated breast milk is pasteurized, cultured and shipped to hospitals across the country to help these babies. To learn more, visit Ohio Health Mothers’ Milk Bank

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