How and when to advocate for your child with special health care needs

When my daughter was born, 19 years ago, she was whisked off to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Children’s Hospital due to concerning respiratory and digestive symptoms.  We quickly learned that she had many special health care needs that would require us to learn some new parenting skills.  I was told “You’ll have to speak for your daughter as she will not be able to speak up for herself.”  My response was, “I don’t want to!”

Advocating was not something that I had planned to due when I read the baby books during my pregnancy.  While I learned these skills because of Emily’s special needs, any …Click here to continue reading

Safe sleep saves lives

There is nothing more innocent than a sleeping baby. There is nothing more tragic than a baby who dies in his or her sleep. Fortunately, research shows that many of these deaths can be prevented.

As a doctor at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, I see the good and the bad. I see smiling babies toddling down our hallways and giggling infants squealing with delight. But, I also …Click here to continue reading

Strong babies are back!

I am the mother of two strong sons who got their healthy start when I committed to breastfeeding them when they were born.

I’m also a nurse and I’ve worked for many years with new mothers and their premature babies. One of the things research has shown – and we’ve seen through our experiences – is that newborns have a better chance of survival – and actually thriving – when they receive their nutrition through their mother’s milk. In fact, we feel so strongly about it at Children’s Hospital that we’ve invested in a Lactation program staffed by specially trained nurses.

I work for an organization that is committed to healthy employees. Children’s Hospital and Health System, of which Children’s Hospital is a part, has more than 5,000 employees in more than 100 locations across the state and in northern Illinois. We support women who return to work after giving birth by providing them resources – including lactation rooms to accommodate breast pumping. Clover Barnes, a manager with our clinics, said breastfeeding was the best gift she could give her son. When he was born in November of 2008, Clover talked to her manager about the resources to allow her to continue breastfeeding when she returned to work. Clover says, “I was given a private space, a place to store my milk and the time I needed to ensure my milk supply remained sufficient to nourish my son. I even spoke with one of the lactation consultants at Children’s Hospital when I was having a problem pumping. I was able to successfully breastfeed my son until he was 10 months. I am now 34 weeks pregnant and plan to breastfeed this child as well.”

The City of Milwaukee Health Department in collaboration with Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin actively supports breastfeeding as the preferred method of providing nutrition to infants. Breast milk contains everything that a baby needs for proper growth and development.

In February 2011, both agencies partnered with Serve Marketing to launch a campaign aimed at increasing breastfeeding rates among Milwaukee mothers, particularly those in the African American community.

Thank you for the opportunity to share the important and positive messages about breastfeeding.

~ Lisa Jentsch, director of Newborn and Fetal Care Services at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin

March for Babies is a way for families to give back

In early October 2007, we welcomed a new addition to our family, my daughter Anastassia. Despite everything my doctors and I did to prolong the pregnancy, Anastassia was born too early. As I was given the news that she was about to make her entrance, I tried to convince myself that it was not happening. My goal with her was 28 weeks, and I still was not there.

My husband was squeezed into a corner of the huge labor and delivery room, the only place he had to stand. The room was filled with doctors, nurses, the transport team and …Click here to continue reading

Breastfeeding support team receives award

I have some great news to share. The breastfeeding support team at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin has been given breastfeeding care award! This means we are being recognized for all the work that our team does for the moms and babies at Children’s Hospital.

Our team helps mothers who want to provide breast milk to their babies. It’s important to provide the best nutrition to all babies, especially when they are sick. Sometimes mothers find it difficult to breastfeed. So, the support my team provides is critical. Click here for more information about how breastfeeding benefits both mother and child.

All four breastfeeding experts on our team are board-certified lactation consultants and registered nurses. Together, we have decades of experience and knowledge about infant care and breastfeeding, and we use the latest research to provide the best care to families.

The award is given out by the International Board of Lactation Examiners and the International Lactation Consultants Association. To qualify, a breastfeeding support program must offer educational programs about breastfeeding and breast milk pumping and support breastfeeding with a qualified team of lactation specialists.

I have been a nurse for almost 28 years and a board-certified lactation consultant for nearly 12 years, and this award means a lot to me. It means we are offering high-quality care to mothers and their babies. It makes me proud to be doing the work that I do while working for such a great hospital.

~ Linda McNamara, BS, RN, IBCLC, RLC, lactation consultant

Helping baby back to sleep

Several times a week, we find ourselves sitting in meetings discussing the best way to keep babies safe while sleeping. At Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin one of our initiatives focuses on injury prevention and death review. Additionally, we provide grief and bereavement services for families who have experienced the unexpected death of an infant. Our work keeps us motivated to find ways to keep babies safe and parents well rested!

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents follow the ABC’s of safe …Click here to continue reading

Children’s Hospital is a winner in online contest – thanks to all of you!

I have some exciting news to share with you. Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin is one of six hospitals to win $5,000 worth of breastfeeding products in an online contest.

The contest was sponsored by Medela, a leading maker of breastfeeding and breast pumping products. It was held to recognize national Prematurity Awareness Month in November. In the contest, people were asked to visit the Medela website and vote for their favorite Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Children’s Hospital was one of the top six vote-getters with 4,750 votes.

We’ll be splitting our prize between the Neonatal Intensive Care Units at Children’s Hospital in Milwaukee and at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin-Fox Valley in Neenah, Wis.

Thank you to all the patient families, friends of the hospitals and our employees who voted for us.

This generous prize is going to be put to great use. Breast milk is the best nutrition for babies. Time and again, studies have shown breast milk gives babies a boost in health, growth, fighting illness and development. The babies in our NICUs are among the most fragile in the region and they really benefit from the advantages breast milk offers.

Thank you again for your support.

~ Lisa Jentsch, director of Newborn and Fetal Care Services

Help us win an online contest for our babies

In more than two decades of working in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, I have seen firsthand how devastating it can be when a baby is born prematurely.

Today, 1 in 8 babies in the U.S. is born too early and it’s the No. 1 cause of infant death. Prematurity also can lead to lifelong disability.

Children’s Hospital has two NICUs. Our Milwaukee hospital cares for more than 700 newborns a year, and our Fox Valley hospital cares for more than 300 a year. Many of these babies are struggling with the consequences of prematurity.

You can help us care for these babies by voting in an online contest sponsored by Medela, a leading maker of breastfeeding and breast pumping products. During November, go to, register on the site and vote for Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin or Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin-Fox Valley. You only are allowed to vote once. The six hospitals with the most votes will win $5,000 worth of breastfeeding products.

Learn more about prematurity and what you can do to help by visiting

~ Lisa Jentsch, director of Newborn and Fetal Care Services

Folic acid and a healthy pregnancy

October is Spina Bifida Awareness Month


Having a healthy baby means making sure you’re healthy, too. One of the most important things a woman can do to prevent serious birth defects is to get enough folic acid. It’s important to take folic acid before you get pregnant and during early pregnancy. Studies show women who get at least 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid before and during pregnancy reduce the risk of having a baby with neural tube defects (serious birth defects involving the incomplete development of the brain and spinal cord) by up to 70 percent. These defects happen during the first 28 days of pregnancy, usually before a woman even knows she’s pregnant. Only half of all pregnancies are planned – so any woman who could become pregnant should make sure she is taking enough folic acid every day.

What is folic acid? How much do you need?

Folic acid is a water soluble B vitamin found in green vegetables like spinach and asparagus as well as in orange juice and enriched cereals and breads. Water soluble means it does not stay in your body for very long, so it needs to be taken every day. For most women, eating the right foods isn’t enough. To get the recommended level, you probably need to take a vitamin.

During pregnancy you require more of all the vitamins and nutrients than you did before you became pregnant. Most nonprescription prenatal vitamins contain 500 to 800 mcg of folic acid. A prenatal vitamin shouldn’t replace eating a healthy, well-balanced diet, but it does ensure you’re getting the recommended amount of folic acid every day.

If you’ve already had a pregnancy that was affected by a neural tube defect, make sure you talk about it with your health care provider. You may need to increase your daily intake of folic acid before getting pregnant again to lower your risk of having another baby with the same defect.

Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin has a long history of caring for children with neural tube defects. There are programs available for your child with Spina Bifida and other special needs. For more information on these programs, visit

Deb Walbergh, RN, BSN, is a graduate student in Nursing in the Spina Bifida Clinic at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.

Breast milk is best for baby

Having a baby is one of the most exciting times in any woman’s life. So many fun, new changes happen when we have a baby. There are so many decisions to make, especially about what to feed this new little wonder. Most people have heard that breast milk is best, but often they don’t know why.  Being a nurse and a lactation consultant, I have learned so much about breast milk and why it’s so fantastic. I have a few insights that may help you in making your decision about whether to breastfeed. …Click here to continue reading