As a mother of four, Becky always knew that she wanted to breastfeed her children for the first year of their lives. She was aware of the benefits breastfeeding would provide for her babies, and for herself as a mother. When her daughter, Laura, was diagnosed with leukemia at four-months-old, Becky had no idea what was to lie ahead.
Becky, her husband, and Laura arrived at Children’s Hospital New Orleans to begin preparing for surgeries, chemotherapy, and biopsies among other procedures and courses of treatment. One thing she didn’t expect in the frenzy of hospitalization and treatment was that Children’s Hospital would give her the support she needed to continue to nourish Laura with breastmilk.
“My little girl went through fasting for multiple surgeries to inject chemotherapy, biopsy for leukemia, and place her central line to her heart,” Becky explained. “Within those first 24 hours, Children’s Lactation Consultant, Corrie, met me in the PICU with all the supplies I needed to pump and store my milk.”
The Lactation team brought in a breastfeeding scale and Becky was able to do a weighted feed, from the comfort of Laura’s room, so that her care team could measure exactly how much milk Laura was consuming. The team was pleasantly surprised with how much Laura was feeding. Becky said, “Corrie has helped Laura maintain a healthy weight throughout all her treatments by ensuring that I felt empowered to breastfeed.”
Lactation services offered at Children’s Hospital New Orleans has greatly increased breastfeeding rates among mothers and babies in the hospital. Having Lactation experts on staff helps moms to feel more encouraged in pumping and putting their hospitalized baby to breast. More and more mothers are pumping at the bedside and continuing to pump at home. Breastmilk provides important nutrition for all babies but is especially beneficial for the tiniest and sickest babies receiving care at Children’s Hospital New Orleans.
The Lactation team is there not only there to support and empower mothers to breastfeed, but they also ensure milk is organized and fed in the correct order when stored. The hospital’s exclusive breastmilk refrigerator and deep freezer are regulated at the optimal storage temperatures. The Lactation team also educates hospital staff on correct pump set-up and usage, as well as storage tips and mixing education.
Laura has undergone extensive treatments since February 2020 and has been exclusively breastfed through it all. It is important to Becky that throughout her hospital stay, she has been able to breastfeed and give Laura the antibodies and valuable nutrients her body needs to remain as healthy as possible. “It has been a huge blessing and support to us,” says Becky. “I never thought I would be breastfeeding my daughter while she goes through cancer treatments, but it has felt like one of the greatest ways I get to help my little girl.”