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Lactation Consultants Help Moms Navigate Breastfeeding Journey

Lactation CenterBreastfeeding mothers can experience indescribable joys and seemingly insurmountable hurdles – often both at once. Nursing creates a tender yet powerful bond between a woman and her newborn, but it’s not uncommon to need some help along the way.

At UAB Medicine, whether a newborn enters the world with a peep or a holler, our 10 lactation consultants are there to assist mothers and newborns at every stage of their breastfeeding journey.

Like every lactation consultant at UAB Medicine, Cheryl Smith is a registered nurse who has specialized training and certification in helping mothers breastfeed their babies. Smith, who recently celebrated her fifteenth year in lactation services, began her career in UAB’s high-risk postpartum unit. Becoming a lactation consultant allowed her to continue to mentor moms who delivered early. “It was rewarding to care for patients who were on the unit for weeks or months,” she says. “I even got to see some of the babies after they went home.”

Going Where the Need Is

Some lactation consultants work on site at the UAB Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and Continuing Care Nursery, but usually Smith and many of her colleagues are on the go, visiting new moms and those who are breastfeeding older infants. There is no typical day for a UAB lactation consultant, as each can see 4-14 patients during a shift. “We don’t just serve the mother-baby floor,” Smith says. “We have patients all over the hospital.” Breastfeeding mothers may be admitted for surgery or an illness and need help expressing and storing milk – or perhaps just a sympathetic ear.

Lactation consultants are available to all patients and employees who deliver at UAB Medicine. “Many times, the phone is buzzing, and we get people knocking on the office window,” Smith says. When an outpatient visitor is having difficulty, a member of the lactation team schedules an appointment that can last up to an hour. If a woman has sore nipples or a decrease in milk supply, for example, Smith or one of her colleagues may review positioning of the baby and ensure that the infant is feeding for an appropriate length of time. “We’ll do a pre- and post-weight check to see how much milk the baby got,” she adds.

In addition to coaching nursing moms, UAB Medicine lactation services provides a relaxing center for patients, visitors, employees, faculty, and students to nurse their infants or pump their breast milk. “Here, they can sit in a rocking chair with a television and a phone nearby and a place to wash their supplies,” Smith says of the main lactation center on the 6th floor of the UAB Women & Infants Center. “And we’re right here, so if they need to ask questions, they can just knock on the door.”

Other lactation centers are located throughout the UAB campus, providing private spaces and pumps with sinks in some cases (see accompanying list with amenities). Having a welcoming space to pump encourages mothers to breastfeed longer, she says, which is good for both mom and child.

If latching issues, sore nipples, or career demands frustrate a nursing mom’s best intentions, UAB lactation consultants are just a phone call away at (205) 975-8334. Click here to learn more about breastfeeding support services at UAB Medicine.

 

Lactation Centers at UAB

UAB operates 11 lactation centers around campus, nine of which are available to outpatients and visitors:

Patients, Visitors, Employees, Faculty, and Students

Children’s of Alabama hospital, Benjamin Russell Hospital for Children

1601 5th Avenue South, 2nd floor

(205) 638-6600

Resources: Four Symphony pumps with a sink

 

Children’s of Alabama hospital Lactation Center

1600 7th Avenue South (ground floor of the McWane Building)

(205) 638-6600

Resources: Four Symphony pumps with a sink

 

Whitaker Clinic of UAB Hospital

500 22nd Street South, Room 116

(205) 801-8055

Resources: No equipment; space only, with a sink in close proximity

 

Mervyn H. Sterne Library

917 13th Street South, Room 153-A1

(205) 934-6360

Resources: No equipment; space only, with a sink

 

UAB School of Public Health

1665 University Blvd., Room 130

(205) 934-4993

Resources: No equipment; space only with sink in close proximity

 

UAB School of Dentistry

1919 7th Avenue South (inside Greer Student Lounge, Room SDB 639)

(205) 934-3250

Resources: No equipment; space only, with a sink in close proximity

 

Shelby Building

1825 University Blvd., Room 150

(205) 934-1033

Resources: Pump provided but no sink

 

UAB Hospital-Highlands

1201 11th Avenue South, Room B050C

(205) 930-7500 or (205) 930-7103

Resources: No equipment; space only, with a sink in close proximity

 

UAB Women & Infants Center

1700 6th Avenue South, Room 6110

(205) 975-8334

Resources: Three Symphony pumps with a sink