SALT LAKE CITY – In continuing its commitment to Baby Friendly status, a designation supported by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), University of Utah Health Care opened its first Outpatient Lactation Clinic this week for new moms who experience breastfeeding difficulty after leaving the hospital. As Utah’s only Baby Friendly organization, U of U Health Care has adopted rigorous policies and practices to ensure the best possible outcome for breastfeeding moms and their babies.
“At the University of Utah, we strive to help every breastfeeding mom have the best possible outcome,” says Elizabeth Smith, MPH, IBCLC, RLC, U of U Hospital patient services and Baby Friendly coordinator. “We recognize that many moms face unexpected breastfeeding challenges when they get home from the hospital. This is why we are so excited to open our Outpatient Lactation Clinic. Our IBCLC staff is there to help new moms continue to have a positive breastfeeding experience.”
According to the 2011 Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Breastfeeding Report Card, on average only 44 percent of new moms in the U.S. are breastfeeding at six months, and 24 percent are breastfeeding at 12 months. Even more alarming, less than 15 percent of moms are exclusively breastfeeding at six months. In Utah, 61 percent of moms are breastfeeding at six months, but the number decreases significantly at 12 months with only 29 percent breastfeeding. Utah is close to the national average in exclusive breastfeeding at six months.
“Much of the problem can be attributed to the minor difficulties new moms may have in the beginning that become bigger issues when they go back to work and can’t continue breastfeeding,” Smith says.
The goal of the Outpatient Lactation Clinic is to keep moms breastfeeding well after they leave the hospital with ongoing comprehensive care and support, and to address any medical issues with mom or baby that may hinder a successful breastfeeding experience.
“Considering the data released by the CDC earlier this year, it is so important – perhaps now more than ever – to continue educating the community about the healthy benefits of breastfeeding, and to provide as much support as possible for new moms,” says Edward B. Clark, M.D., professor and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the U of U School of Medicine. “Breast milk is economically sustainable and contains so many important nutrients and disease-fighting properties, making successful breastfeeding a key community health objective.”
One of the primary indicators on the Breastfeeding Report Card is the proportion of live births that occur in facilities that provide recommended care for lactating mothers and their babies, specifically Baby Friendly hospitals. The CDC reports that less than five percent of infants in the U.S. are born in Baby Friendly hospitals. In 2008, U of U Hospital became the 72nd hospital in the nation to achieve Baby Friendly status. Currently, the next closest hospital with Baby Friendly status is in Denver.
University of Utah Hospital has also earned recognition for its dedicated International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) staff. Recently, the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners honored the U. with an IBCLC Care Award for its dedicated lactation program and commitment to providing appropriate training for staff members to become certified lactation consultants.
The new Outpatient Lactation Clinic will be located in the Pediatric Clinic (Clinic 6) on the main level at U of U Hospital. The clinic will be staffed primarily by the U’s International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC’s) with oversight from both pediatric and OB/GYN physicians. The clinic is open to all new moms, regardless of where they delivered, and requires a $30 fee per visit. No insurance or referral from a primary care physician required. Appointments are available Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m., and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information or to schedule an appointment with the new Outpatient Lactation Clinic, call 801-581-2308.
*Appointments are required. No walk-ins.
Find updated information about the Outpatient Lacation Clinic here.