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Breastfeeding Support

Breastfeeding is a natural way to nourish your baby, but it doesn’t always come easy. Whether you’ve already committed to breastfeeding or want to give it a try, the team at Virginia Mason Franciscan Health is here for you. 

We provide education and support that leads to the best possible experience for you and your baby. Our commitment to breastfeeding support has earned recognition for many of our locations.

Washington state-recognized breastfeeding support

The majority of our birth centers have earned the Washington State Department of Health's "Lactation and Infant Feeding-Friendly Environments" (LIFE) award. This distinction means we meet or exceed the highest standards for evidence-based breastfeeding support. 

Being a LIFE facility benefits breastfeeding mothers by providing: 

  • Access to specially-trained staff, such as certified lactation consultants
  • One-on-one RN or lactation specialist support during a mom’s and newborn’s hospital stay
  • Rooming 24 hours a day, seven days a week for healthy newborns to stay close to their mothers to support bonding and recognize early feeding cues
  • Timely support to identify challenges early on and quickly address them
  • Post-discharge outpatient lactation appointments
  • Encouraging skin-to-skin
  • Responding to early feeding cues
  • Offering donor human milk for supplementation

Breastfeeding support at Virginia Mason Franciscan Health

Our breastfeeding support team teaches you techniques for overcoming common challenges. We also offer encouragement and reassurance to help make breastfeeding enjoyable and less stressful. Breastfeeding is the most natural means to nourish an infant and it requires support, knowledge and practice.

Highlights of our offerings include: 

  • Evidence-based practices: We follow the latest recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics, CDC, and the American Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine. Our nurses are trained in the latest scientific evidence in infant nutrition and infant feeding.

  • Experienced lactation consultants: Registered nurses and lactation specialists provide support with a compassionate touch. Most of our breastfeeding support staff are International Board-Certified Lactation Consultants. We provide guidance to thousands of women each year. This depth of experience increases your likelihood of breastfeeding success.
  • Breastfeeding decision-making support: Our lactation consultants are available even if you are unsure whether you wish to breastfeed. They help you explore the benefits and challenges, so you can make an informed decision about how to proceed. Our approach to breastfeeding care is evidence based with the unique needs of the infant, lactating patient and family.
  • Inpatient and outpatient services: Lactation consultants start supporting you shortly after your baby is born. Lactation consultants continue supporting you and your baby after discharge in our clinics. To schedule an appointment, call 253-382-8580.
  • Breast pumps and supplies: A variety of supplies can make breastfeeding more comfortable and convenient. These include breast pumps, nipple shields, special pillows and nursing pads. Lactation consultants provide personalized recommendations and show you how to purchase supplies. Breast pumps are also available for rent.
  • Partnering with Seattle Children’s Hospital Neonatal Nurse Practitioner: The outpatient lactation clinic partners with a Seattle Children's Neonatal Nurse Practitioner to assess, evaluate and treat tongue tie. A lactation appointment is required before referring to the Frenotomy clinic. Please call 253-382-8580 to schedule a lactation visit with an RN/IBCLC.

Breastfeeding support for premature and sick babies
We provide special accommodations that make it easier to breastfeed babies in our NICU and special care nurseries. Some locations have in-room feeding zones with refrigerators to store breastmilk and heaters to warm it up. Watch this tour of the NICU St. St. Joseph Medical Center.

Breastfeeding classes and more information

Our support for breastfeeding mothers often starts before their baby is born. We offer childbirth and parenting classes to help you learn more about what to expect and how to prepare. 

Classes are available in English and Spanish, including an online breastfeeding preparation class. Participants learn about feeding cues, breastfeeding positions, maintaining healthy milk production and more. Sign up online or call 1-888-825-3227 (se habla español).

You can also learn more about Baby-Friendly USA and their role in supporting breastfeeding mothers. 

Schedule an appointment

Find out more about our pregnancy and childbirth services or make an appointment.