West Penn Hospital gives breastfeeding moms a boost

Unique program helps new mothers overcome breastfeeding obstacles and support each other at “The Nursing Café”

More and more new moms are getting their babies off to the healthiest start in life by breastfeeding. West Penn Hospital is uniquely equipped to help these families with everything from advice to emotional support to nursing bra fittings.

There are many benefits for babies who are breastfed, including reduced chances of ear infections, colds and allergic disorders. Studies show breastfed babies are less likely to become obese, and likelier to have higher IQs. Breastfeeding also offers a wonderful bonding experience between parent and child.

“Breastfeeding is the most natural and healthy way to feed your baby, yet as with any new skill, there is a ‘learning curve,’” said West Penn Hospital Lactation Consultant Sandra M. Porco, RN, BSN, IBCLC. “At West Penn, our goal is to help mothers achieve their personal breastfeeding goals through compassionate and skilled support and education.”

Most of the services are open to the community. They include:

  • Prenatal consultations, particularly for past lactation failure.
  • Monthly prenatal breastfeeding classes.
  • Outpatient lactation consults at West Penn Hospital for mothers with breastfeeding problems.
  • “The Nursing Café,” a free weekly support group for breastfeeding mothers.
  • Phone line for questions and concerns, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., 7 days a week: 412.578.7030.
  • Bra fittings by a certified fitter.
  • An array of products available for purchase at the Lactation Center*, including nursing bras, camisoles, cover-ups, nursing pillows and breast pump sales and rentals.
  • Counselors’ areas of expertise include early feedings, sore nipples, breast pain, difficult latch, flat or inverted nipples, multiple and premature births, returning to work and milk supply issues.

*The Lactation Center is located in West Penn Hospital, 152 Mellon Pavilion, and is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, or to make a weekend or evening appointment, call 412.578.7030.

Mothers who deliver at West Penn are visited in the hospital by lactation consultants with a combined 125 years of experience. Along with Ms. Porco, they are Robert Monteverde, RN, BSN, IBCLC; Julie Brown, RN, BSN, IBCLC and Lillian Roth, RN, BSN, IBCLC.

Recognized as one of the country’s top 50 women’s and infants’ hospitals by US News and World Report, West Penn Hospital's obstetrics program is one of the busiest in the region, with more than 3,000 deliveries each year, and its Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit admits about 700 critically ill newborns annually, making it one of the region's largest referral resources.

West Penn Hospital is part of the Allegheny Health Network.