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Breast Feeding Resources at MIT Medical

Breastfeeding your baby is natural and provides good nutrition as well as a special closeness.

It can be enjoyable for both you and your baby, but sometimes you may face some difficulties or need some coaching to manage the challenges of breastfeeding.

Perhaps you are ready to go back to work, but wonder how you can continue to breastfeed.

Pat Bartels, Nurse Practitioner and Clinical Coordinator of Pediatrics at MIT Medical is here today to offer some great suggestions to make breastfeeding more enjoyable.
Breast Feeding Resources at MIT Medical
Featured Speaker:
Pat Bartels, NP
Pat Bartels, NP, Nurse Practitioner and Clinical Coordinator of Pediatrics at MIT Medical, specializes in early parenting and breast feeding support, adoption, GBLT families, and primary care pediatrics.  She received both her BSN and Master’s in Health Sciences from University of California.  Formerly the Director of Nursing at Children's Hospital, Boston, Bartels has been serving MIT’s community for almost 19 years.   She is a certified Breastfeeding Counselor and is affiliated with Mount Auburn Hospital’s Newborn Nursery.

Melanie Cole (Host):  Breastfeeding your baby is natural and provides good nutrition as well as special closeness. It can be enjoyable for both you and your baby, but sometimes. you may face difficulties or need some coaching to manage the challenges of breastfeeding. Perhaps, you’re ready to go back to work but wonder how you can continue to breastfeed while you work. My guest today is Pat Bartels. She’s a nurse practitioner and clinical coordinator of pediatrics at MIT Medical. Welcome to the show, Pat. Tell us a little bit about what breastfeeding resources are available to new mothers at MIT Medical.

Pat Bartels (Guest):  Thank you for asking. MIT campus has been signified as a breastfeeding-friendly employer, and I’m very happy to work here. We have both an obstetric and a pediatric department here that have health professionals that can assist the parent-mom in learning more about breastfeeding. In fact, on campus, we have developed, over the last five years, many private rooms where moms can come and breastfeed their babies or use a hospital-grade electric pump to pump milk if the mom is back to work or back to school here on campus. We are happy to have both professional resources as well as quiet rooms for breastfeeding or pumping. 

Melanie:  Where can mothers find these pumping areas on campus? 

Pat:  It’s very simple. If you go to the MIT website,, and then search breastfeeding, what will come up is a whole section that we have developed—I developed it with the Work and Family Life Office—that has a list of where the lactation rooms are available on campus, how you access them. Some you can sign up for certain hours each day or week and others are more of a drop-in. That allows a woman who doesn’t have a private office or a quiet place to do her pumping to know where to go and how to engage in using one of our lactation rooms. We currently have really over 20 rooms on campus, so that’s great. 

Melanie:  There are a lot of challenges. Some women are afraid of what challenges they may face. What do you do if the baby doesn’t latch? How do you start breastfeeding? Is this, Pat, a natural instinct for mothers? How will they learn to breastfeed? 

Pat:  That’s a good question. I think it starts with “Well, we’re going to plan a family and I’m going to have a baby” and you start with your OB care. Part of it is that the clinicians will evaluate your breasts and find out if you’re interested in breastfeeding or not. If you’re not sure, they will talk to you or orient you towards literature that you can read or look at online to see whether this is a good match for you. It is quite popular now with well-educated women to breastfeed or to give breast milk to their baby, and yet there may be women that are “Oh, I’m not sure I can do this” or “I don’t even have experience with a baby, much less taking on the responsibility of 100 percent feeding the baby.” Some women will attend breastfeeding support group where they get to look at other women with their babies and ask questions of real-life nursing moms. There are certainly websites for new mothers related to breastfeeding that can be really supportive. I tend to ask women to look on websites that are dot-org, rather than dot-com, because the dot-org websites will tend to be research-based and much clearer than the ones that are commercial properties, such as infant milk products and that sort of a thing. Again, at our website,, search breastfeeding, we do have a list of really excellent websites that help women through some of the issues or problems that they may have. Again, it really should be a personal decision for women: “I want to be very close skin-to-skin with my baby”; some women, “Hmm, I like the idea of a baby, but I’m really gonna like a five-year-old.” For some women, we may help them to come to their conclusion that they may pump some milk and offer by bottle or that breastfeeding isn’t for them. When we look at our own practice here at MIT, we have about 97 percent initiation of breastfeeding in our practice groups, so most of them do decide that they want to work on learning to breastfeed. That’s what I really emphasize: It’s a learning experience. A baby will root and suck on a finger and will learn to take the milk from the mother. Our bodies, the women’s bodies, need to accommodate to having the milk form in the breasts. For a few days, our breasts are pretty big and engorged, and breastfeeding can be a little bit of a challenge in the first few days. When you ask about latching, that starts when you’re in the birth hospital. There are staff nurses as well as lactation consultants that will watch you starting to feed the baby and assist you in positioning or help you get some tricks of the trade to get going with the breastfeeding. Then usually, the baby we will come in to pediatrics one or two days after you go home from the hospital, and again there is another opportunity for a healthcare professional to observe how you’re doing and look at the baby’s weight and help to decide whether it’s going super well or you need some more support.  

Melanie:  Pat, for the women that are on the fence about breastfeeding, give them some of the benefits that even if they just breastfed for the first couple of months, much less the first year, which is what’s truly recommended, give them some of the true benefits so that you can kind of guide them along and get them to really choose this. 

Pat:  We definitely can be very specific about the infant. Our breast milk has proteins of immunity that go into the stomach and the intestine that, over a prolonged period of time with breastfeeding, we can see that infants that have taken breast milk have less colds and usually do not have stomach flu or gastroenteritis. There have even been some studies of increased IQ with children that are breastfed. For women that really can only do it for a few months, can make that commitment only for a few months, it does keep the newborn and small infant safe from infections, colds and such that may come into the house or when you go shopping or something like that. There does seem to be a strong protective effect. For women, there is a great use of calories during the breastfeeding time and because making the milk increases the calorie usage, and so they get back to their more normal weight quickly. There is a protective effect for breastfeeding related to breast cancer. None of these is 100 percent, but it’s definitely a factor.  

Melanie:  Well, there’s such great benefits for both mom and baby, and in just the last minute, Pat, if you would, please give the women your best advice, those considering breastfeeding and for new mothers at MIT Medical and your best advice about breastfeeding at MIT.

Pat:  You decide to have a baby, and this is a wonderful and glorious time, to give yourself the permission to go slow and relax and cuddle in with the baby and feed them when they need to and let other things just go by for a while. Other things about your work or your studies can be picked up a little bit later, but just be in the moment with where you are with this wonderful new baby. It’s going to go a long way towards helping you through the little bumps and crying jags and things like that that may be happening as well.

Melanie:  Such an exciting time. Thank you so much, Pat. For more information, you can go to That’s You’re listening to Conversations with MIT Medical. This is Melanie Cole. Thanks so much for listening.