The Rush Mothers’ Milk Club is the name of the
breastfeeding, lactation and human milk feeding program in the neonatal
intensive care unit (NICU) at Rush
Center. The clinical program is based on the most
up-to-date research about lactation and human milk for premature and other NICU
infants. The neonatologists, nurses,
dietitians and breastfeeding peer counselors work to share this research with
families so that they can work with the NICU staff members to collect, store
and feed each mother’s milk using techniques and procedures that most benefit
the individual baby.
The Rush Mothers’ Milk Club also conducts translational
research that is focused on:
use of human milk to optimize infant health.
breast pumping more effective, efficient, comfortable and convenient.
lactation technologies, such as the creamatocrit and test-weighing, to
strengthen the scientific foundation for clinical lactation care.
research addressing gut microflora and immunoregulatory components in
economics of human milk feedings for NICU infants.
A unique feature of the Rush Mothers’ Milk Club is the
practice of certified breastfeeding peer counselors. These employees are mothers of former NICU
infants, all of whom received care in the Rush NICU. After getting settled at home, these women
became certified breastfeeding peer counselors, and completed an intensive
orientation program to provide lactation care to other mothers in the Rush
NICU. In a recent study, mothers feel
that lactation care by the breastfeeding peer counselors is so effective
because the mothers feel the breastfeeding peer counselors have “walked in my
Another special feature of the Rush Mothers’ Milk Club is the
Friday luncheon meetings, where families learn the science about human milk and
lactation, and meet other NICU families.
These lively and entertaining meetings provide an opportunity for
families to ask questions, share their “tips” on pumping, or just share stories
about their babies’ progress. These
meetings take place EVERY Friday in English (1PM) and Spanish (11:30 AM), and
are attended by the employed and volunteer breastfeeding peer counselors. Educational topics include:
in human milk: What does it mean
for your baby, and how can you make sure your milk has an adequate
colostrum protects your premature baby from complications of prematurity.”
cells have been found in human milk:
What does this mean for your baby’s health?”
methodologies that are suitable for mothers who are providing milk for
If families do not have transportation to attend the weekly
Mothers’ Milk Club luncheons, the program offers a group-ride complimentary
taxi service, which is supported by the Rush Women’s Board. The service picks up families in their homes,
takes them to Rush, and returns them to their homes later in the
The Rush Mothers’ Milk Club provides other important
services for mothers who are breast pump-dependent and the families who support
to the Rush Mothers’ Milk Club” packets that include the “My Mom Pumps for
Me!” milk volume record and bilingual tear sheets on a variety of
NICU-specific issues, such as medications in human milk and mothers’ diet
while providing milk for an NICU infant.
families with original scientific articles about human milk topics that are
relevant to their infants’ conditions, such as the differences in
colostrum that is produced by mothers of very immature infants, and why
these differences are important to infant outcome.
in-hospital breast pump rental program, to insure that all mothers have
access to state-of-the art milk expression equipment.
skin-to-skin (Kangaroo) care, pumping at the bedside, “tasting” milk at
the emptied breast, and other nonpharmacologic interventions to protect
maternal milk volume.
to insurance companies for breast pump and BabyWeigh® Scale rental fee
to employers so that breast pump-dependent mothers of NICU infants can
express milk in the work place.
industrial freezers to store all human milk at Rush during an infant’s
NICU stay, with one additional freezer dedicated to storing milk after an
infant’s NICU discharge (courtesy of Anne and Ken Griffin).
of all evidence-based lactation technology to ensure that NICU infants
receive as much human milk as possible for the longest time. This includes: breast pump technology, the creamatocrit
technique, nipple shield use, and measuring milk intake (test-weighing)
during and after the NICU stay.
NICU-discharge home visits by breastfeeding peer counselors to help
families make the final transition to full at-breastfeeding.
invitation to return to Mothers’ Milk Club luncheons for as long as a
family desires after an infant’s NICU discharge.