Promoting Breastfeeding in the NICU and After Discharge

Presentation by Sarah Taylor, MD, MSCR.

During the presentation, Dr. Taylor will discuss the following:

  • The benefits of mother’s milk for very preterm infants in the NICU are well-known. Less is known about the value of mother’s milk to very preterm infants after discharge, but studies in full-term infants point to a high potential value in health and neurodevelopmental outcomes.
  • The number of mothers who form a plan to breastfeed their infants is increasing. Part of NICU care should be to provide mother the support needed to achieve her pre-birth lactation goal.
  • Not uncommonly, mothers of NICU patients have health risk factors associated with lactation insufficiency. New research is showing ways healthcare providers and lactation support can ameliorate those risks.
  • Like other hospital services, breastfeeding support in the hospital has a history of inequity and systemic racism. Being aware of ways in which this can occur is the first step to ensuring each NICU mother receives the individualized care that she needs to achieve her lactation goal.
  • Even for very preterm infants and other infants with an anticipated long NICU course, interventions to sustain mother’s milk supply after discharge should begin in the first postnatal hours.
  • The development of oral feeding ability is a critical milestone for preterm infants and is an important variable in NICU length of stay. New research points to methods to support breastfeeding while protecting preterm infant growth and not prolonging the NICU stay.
  • Research into preterm infant breastfeeding post-hospital discharge shows that, even in mothers with high milk supply in the NICU, maternal perception of low milk supply is the primary reason mothers do not achieve their lactation goal. Further research will evaluate the factors related to this maternal perception and how this should inform lactation support after NICU discharge.

There is a Q&A session at the end of the presentation.



About the Speaker:

Sarah N. Taylor, MD, MSCR

Associate Professor of Pediatrics (Neonatology)

Director of Clinical Research, Pediatrics

Yale School of Medicine


Dr. Sarah Taylor is an associate professor of pediatrics at Yale School of Medicine. She is the Director of Yale Neonatal Clinical Research and leads the Yale Neonatal NOuRish team which specializes in health outcomes related to maternal and infant nutrition. In addition to her NIH and foundation-funded research program, Dr. Taylor is an advocate for mother and infant nutrition at the international, national, and local levels. She serves on the executive council for the International Society for Research in Human Milk and Lactation. She is a content expert who leads quality improvement work in preterm infant growth and prevention of necrotizing enterocolitis for the Vermont Oxford Network. While on faculty at the Medical University of South Carolina in 2015, she started the Mother’s Milk Bank of South Carolina.