At Mercy Health, Mother/Baby nursing staff is trained to provide breastfeeding support.
Lactation counselors and consultants are available after hospital discharge, providing ongoing support, including weekly breastfeeding meetings for mothers and babies twice a week at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s. In 2016, more than 900 mothers and babies participated in these meetings for breastfeeding support.
Mercy Health Muskegon offers a free breastfeeding class once per month for parents to learn the basics on how to breastfeed and why it’s important. Lactation Consultants (LC’S)see every breastfeeding mom while they are patients in the hospital and are also available for phone calls or outpatient visits if times of groups are not convenient. These services are offered to our patients as well as our colleagues.
Informal Breastfeeding Support Group Offerings: Free = Walk-Ins Welcome Mondays 5-7 p.m., Thursdays 11 a.m-1 p.m., at the Hackley Campus, North 2, on the Labor and Delivery Unit.
Individual appointments and telephone support are also available by calling 616.685.5602. A prenatal breastfeeding class is offered once a month. Find more information here:>>
At Mercy Health Saint Mary’s, lactation consultants have teamed up with Mercy Health Physician Partners to ensure mothers are educated and prepared to breastfeed prior to coming to the hospital. The team also works to ensure that breastfeeding mothers feel supported in any hospital unit.
If you would like breastfeeding support in the greater Grand Rapids area, please call 616-685-5602. For the Muskegon and lakeshore area, please call 231.727.5548, if they are serving patients, please leave a message and they will return your call.
Support for breastfeeding mothers extends to colleagues as well.
At Mercy Health Healthcare Equipment, Colleague Gordy Nicholson cites that approximately 80% of the breast pumps and complementary supplies are purchased by colleagues, who receive a 20% discount.
Healthcare Equipment has two locations:
- 200 Jefferson Ave., Grand Rapids, near the Main Hospital Lobby. Phone: 616.685.5335.
- 1150 E. Sherman Blvd., Suite 1300, Muskegon. Phone: 231.672.4711.
Healthcare Equipment also carries connecting parts to the hospital-grade pumps, Symphony 2.0, (shown to the left) which can be found at two colleague lactation rooms at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s Campus, one on 7 Main and on Level G of Lacks Center. Shared Services also has a lactation room for colleagues.
Jen Fox, a colleague from Process Excellence, shares her story about lactation support from Mercy Health:
“When I gave birth to my second child, Clara, in September 2016, my goal was to make it six months exclusive for breastfeeding. I breastfed my first baby for eight weeks, and he was supplemented with formula from the beginning, so I set my sights higher this time.
“I was concerned about achieving my goal with Clara, as I was coming back to work after six weeks. I had heard that it was hard to establish a milk supply at six weeks postpartum. However; I was very focused on the task at hand and was able to make it to my initial goal, all the while pumping at work.
“My nursing issues began not with supply, but rather with a nursing strike from my baby at eight months old. It was then that I turned to Lactation Services, who helped me immensely.
“Sarah Vandenberge RN, CLC, and the team had so much knowledge. They assured me that this was a normal phase for babies. She taught me several ways I could try to get the baby to nurse again.
“Since a pump isn’t as effective as the baby nursing, Sarah taught me about the hospital-grade pumps (Symphony 2.0) that we have in the lactation rooms throughout the hospital. I also was shown what supplies I needed and how to use them.
“Unfortunately, Clara never went back to nursing, but with the help of the Lactation Services team, I know that we tried everything, and I felt so supported throughout the process.
“The lactation consultants pointed out that I had achieved my initial goal of six months, and that I should be very proud of myself for making it that far.
“I definitely recommend anyone who is breastfeeding or pumping, that they can turn to the Lactation Services for support and guidance.”
For patients who may struggle with supply, since April 2016, Mercy Health Saint Mary’s has had a human donor milk program to provide babies with the safest donated human milk.
“Our NICU nurses are able to ensure that the donated milk is unaltered with consistent safety standards,” said Dr. Mariel Poortenga, MD, medical director of Lactation Services, Mercy Health. “As a neonatologist, I personally did extensive research to find the right program for our patients; one that was of the highest safety standards. Our vendor uses all human milk, without any added cow’s milk supplements and uses a thorough donor screening and pasteurizing process.”
Patient Gabie can attest to the safety standards of the human donor milk program. Gabie had many barriers when it came to breastfeeding. When her son Garrison was born at 29 weeks in March 2017, Gabie was sent to the ICU due to her own health issues, and was hospitalized for two weeks postpartum.
“It was a journey,” is how Gabie described Garrison’s entry into this world and discharge from the NICU at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s.
“I was very adamant that I wanted Garrison to be fed only breastmilk. The doctors and nurses listened to me,” said Gabie.
Due to her critical health issues, expressing milk was extremely difficult, but Gabie was determined to attempt expression.
“The lactation team supported me in so many ways,” said Gabie. “They lined up everything I needed from the Mercy Health Healthcare Equipment, including a hospital-grade pump, so that I could express milk to give to Garrison. I expressed milk with a hospital-grade pump every two hours. I often would ‘power-pump,’ where you pump every few minutes off and on.”
Despite her valiant efforts, Gabie was unable to produce much milk on her own, and Lactation Services were able to provide donated human milk for Garrison.
“The neonatologists assured me the safety of their human donor milk program,” said Gabie. “They informed me of the difference between formula and the donated milk, and we talked through the process and the need for it, especially since Garrison’s gut was very immature, requiring the use of donated human milk.”
Gabie is very appreciative of the care she and her son received: “The neonatologist and nurse would come to my hospital room after rounds to keep me informed of everything,” said Gabie.
“They supported me in so many ways; I was a part of his care.” Gabie is grateful for the care she and Garrison received. They are both now happy at home.
If you would like breastfeeding support, in the greater Grand Rapids area, please call 616-685-5602. For the Muskegon and lakeshore area, please call 231.727.5548.