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Mercy lactation clinic - closed during the pandemic - reopens, expands hours

A mom cradles her baby's feet
A mom cradles her baby's feet

The clinic reopened for limited hours in the spring and is now open longer to meet demand.

The lactation clinic at Mercy Hospital Springfield is open again after closing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

And the clinic – inside the Family Resource Center – recently expanded its hours to meet patient demand.

The lactation clinic had provided new mothers in southwest Missouri support and consultation for 15 years before closing.

Mercy nurse manager in labor and birth and the Family Resource Center Brittany Thompson pushed to reopen the clinic. She said co-workers and patients were asking when it would open back up, "so we worked hard to get open as quickly as possible, and we're currently seeing it grow more than we could have imagined."

The lactation clinic sees babies as young as two weeks, and the team works with Mercy’s pediatric clinics to make sure babies are gaining weight. The collaborative approach makes it easier for Mercy pediatricians to decide if a baby needs a supplement to boost their nutritional intake, according to Mercy in a news release.

Moms who deliver their babies at Mercy have an appointment scheduled at the clinic before they’re sent home.

Anyone can call and seek services there, and Thompson said they also take phone calls from women asking for advice.

Thompson said services like those at the lactation clinic at Mercy are "absolutely vital." Moms who have just given birth are often tired and are trying to learn new things, she said, and they might leave the hospital and feel alone in their journey.

"And what's important to us is that they don't feel alone, that they know that we are here to support them and that they can come back and see us, and they'll get one-on-one hands-on help," she said.

Thompson said sometimes moms have questions about whether or not their baby is getting enough to eat or they are dealing with things like sore and cracked nipples. The clinic's board certified lactation consultant can help them with any questions and concerns they might have.

Breastfeeding provides many benefits for babies, according to Thompson. It decreases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome or SIDS. It helps promote bonding between a mother and a child, decreases the risk of future illness and helps regulate a baby's blood sugar and temperature.

"They call it liquid gold for a reason, especially in the early days when mom is expressing colostrum," she said. "There are so many benefits in that early milk, and so we always do encourage moms, and we're here to help support them to try."

The lactation clinic at Mercy also works with mothers who choose not to breastfeed or who are unable to do so. The team helps them with things like getting their milk to dry up.

The lactation clinic reopened in the spring with limited hours Monday through Wednesday. Due to patient demand, the center is now open Monday through Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Mercy expects the clinic to be open Monday through Friday from 8 to 5 by late fall. To access it, enter through the Mercy Kids east entrance. The clinic is located near the purple elevators and the women's and children's gift shop.

Michele Skalicky has worked at KSMU since the station occupied the old white house at National and Grand. She enjoys working on both the announcing side and in news and has been the recipient of statewide and national awards for news reporting. She likes to tell stories that make a difference. Michele enjoys outdoor activities, including hiking, camping and leisurely kayaking.