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The Newest on Breastfeeding and Resources at Vanderbilt


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​Betty Thomas, Registered Nurse and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, discusses the latest discoveries on the benefits of breastfeeding, and helpful practices and resources for breastfeeding mothers upon their return to work at Vanderbilt. Listen to learn more about the many benefits of breastfeeding and how to create a plan for returning to work using the many resources for lactating mothers available at Vanderbilt.

Vanderbilt Breastfeeding & Lactation Resources:

Vanderbilt Child and Family Center – Breastfeeding Resources

Vanderbilt Women’s Center – Breastfeeding Resources

Vanderbilt Lactation Consultants

Vanderbilt Lactation Room Locations​

Tennessee Breastfeeding Hotline – 855-4BFMOMS (855-423-6667)

Begin Transcript

Bridgette Butler: Welcome to this edition of the Vanderbilt Health and Wellness Wellcast. I am Bridgette Butler with Health Plus. Our topic today is breastfeeding, around which there is a lot of great news. Breastfeeding rates continue to rise in the U.S., as do strong support and resources for the practice. Joining us today is Betty Thomas, Registered Nurse and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. Welcome, Betty, and thank you for talking with us today.

Betty Thomas: Thank you.

Bridgette Butler: Betty, what are the benefits of breastfeeding for the mother, for the child?

Betty Thomas: Well, for mom, there’s lots of benefits of losing weight sooner after she delivers. Actually, there should be decreased bleeding because your uterus is shrinking down because of the different hormones that are being produced … so lots of benefits for mom, but what I would like to go into more is with the benefits for the baby. So, if you think about the proteins and the fats and the carbs, all of this is combined in a perfect combination for your baby’s health. So, breast milk gives your baby all of those different things. Baby can break it down much easier. It is digested much easier. His gut health is much, much better. It provides all kinds of immunities for your baby, so it keeps your baby more healthy. There actually is over 200 known components in breast milk itself, which cannot be reproduced in formula. One of the things that has recently been researched and looked at is something called human alpha-lactalbumin made lethal to tumor cells. It’s called the HAMLET complex. It is in breast milk. It is shown to kill certain cancer cells. So, they have taken parts of that, placed it on a cancer cell, and it actually will eat that cancer cell, and it doesn’t disturb the rest of the tissues around it. So, that has been amazing as to what they have found in that. So, good for the baby, also good economically. Breast milk doesn’t cost anything other than mom has to eat really well, but economically, a can of formula is anywhere from $50.00 to $125.00, depending on what your baby needs. So, you can go through a lot of formula, and breast milk is free.Plus, you have to buy bottles. You have to have clean water. You have to really boil the water before you put it in formula, washing the bottles, making sure they are nice and clean, keeping formula refrigerated after it’s made, and there is also formula recalls. So, if you get a batch of formula that is not good, it could make your baby sick. So, there’s that. Ecologically, there is no waste. With formula, even the manufacture of formula, you have waste, just the cans, any of the waste involved in that. So, economically, ecologically, and you know, socially, having the baby close to you … not that bottle feeding, you don’t bond with your baby, but breastfeeding, there’s different hormones that is produced that actually is called the bonding or “love hormone”Your breast milk is made specifically for your baby, meaning, if your baby is a little early, a pre-term baby, you actually make pre-term milk, so your milk is higher in different components than it is for a baby that is term, and as your baby grows, your milk changes for the needs of your baby. It’s better for everybody.

Bridgette Butler: What are some of the challenges of breastfeeding?

Betty Thomas: Most of what I see is sore nipples, and that can be just a tweak in having the baby latch on better. So, calling IBCLC or calling a counselor, someone to help you get the baby latched on better to see if that doesn’t help – that’s the biggest thing. It is too painful, and when it hurts, you don’t want to do it, and I don’t blame you. So, that’s the biggest one. And most, a lot of people think that they don’t make enough milk for their baby, which some people don’t make quite a bit of milk. Everybody is different. But for the most part, most moms will make enough milk for their babies.

Bridgette Butler: What is the best practices for continuing to breastfeed after returning to work? I know that this is sometimes a challenge for women.

Betty Thomas: Yes. The best thing I can tell you to do is to prepare. Prepare to go back to work. You want to have a really good pump when you go back to work. Talk with your employer. Find out where your employer has designated you to be able to pump. There is a law that states employers should give you a place to pump and not the bathroom, using your breaks and your lunch time to pump. So, there’s that, and then the support of your family or your caregiver, whoever is taking care of the baby – talk with them. You really need their support, and see what their thoughts on breastfeeding are.

Bridgette Butler: What resources do VU and VUMC offer for lactating mothers?

Betty Thomas: There’s our department, which is called Women’s Education and Lactation Center, or just our lactation department, and our number is 615-936-1414. There is also the Tennessee Breastfeeding Hotline. It’s 24/7. You can call it anytime of day and somebody is going to answer the phone.

Bridgette Butler: What about the lactation rooms that are offered to employees who are pumping?

Betty Thomas: There are pump rooms all over the university campus and here in the hospital. You can go to a website, which will give you the list of all those rooms. Some rooms do have pumps in them. Some don’t. You just bring your own pump, and it has the rest in there.

Bridgette Butler: We are going to be including some of these resources on this page below this wellcast. Betty, thank you so much for joining us today.

Betty Thomas: Thank you so much. I appreciate it.

Bridgette Butler: You gave us some great information, some great planning techniques, some great tips and resources.

Betty Thomas: Thank you.

Bridgette Butler: Thank you. Thanks for listening. Please feel free to leave us any comments on this wellcast on the form at the bottom of this page. If you have a story suggestion, please email it to us at, or you can use the “Contact Us” page on our website at

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Posted on Friday, August 25, 2017 in Health Plus, Wellcasts and tagged , ,


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