Your browser is unsupported

We recommend using the latest version of IE11, Edge, Chrome, Firefox or Safari.

Breastfeeding Medicine – UI Health

Updated: 04/24/23

Completion of the following core clerkships: OB/Gyn and Pediatrics. Special circumstances (medical student with previous breastfeeding experience, student with previous doula experience, etc) will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

This rotation’s schedule is flexible, but also requires self-motivation and initiative in order to complete all requirements during the 2-week rotation.

Although breastfeeding is supported by the medical literature as the preferred and normal way to feed the human infant, clinical practices continue to exist that serve as barriers to exclusive breastfeeding. These include deficits in prenatal education, practices in L&D and the newborn nursery that undermine breastfeeding (absence of baby friendly practices), and lack of effective follow up care from knowledgeable clinicians. Evidence has shown that implementing physician education has positive clinical outcomes on breastfeeding exclusivity and duration.

The purpose of this elective is to improve breastfeeding knowledge and attitudes of medical students, especially those interested in providing primary care to mothers and infants. Upon successful completion of this elective, the student will become comfortable with promoting breastfeeding, gain a basic understanding of the principles of lactation, learn how to manage common lactation problems, and learn ways to implement baby friendly practices into their medical practice.


  1. List the health risks of not breastfeeding for children, mothers, families, and society.
  2. Describe the anatomy, physiology, and endocrinology of milk production and secretion.
  3. Explain the biochemical and immunologic properties of human milk.
  4. Identify the demographic associations of ethnicity, maternal education, and socioeconomic status on breastfeeding initiation and duration.
  5. Identify national and/or international goals for breastfeeding rates and goals for breastfeeding practices, as appropriate.
  6. Counsel a breastfeeding mother about basic nutritional needs for herself and her child.
  7. Describe and recommended evidence-based practices for maternity care providers that have been shown to result in increased initiation and duration of breastfeeding.
  8. Identify factors that contribute to parental decision making about breastfeeding.
  9. Recognize the effects of labor and delivery interventions on initiation of breastfeeding.
  10. Be able to facilitate and assist with the first feeding immediately after delivery.
  11. Recognize correct attachment and effective suckling at the breast.
  12. Counsel mothers about establishing and maintaining milk supply during separation due to illness or return to study or employment.
  13. Discuss causes, prevention, and management of common breastfeeding problems (e.g., sore nipples, low milk supply, poor weight gain, and jaundice).
  14. Describe appropriate timing, introduction, and selection of complementary foods.
  15. Recognize that most infants, even those with special healthcare needs, can breastfeed.
  16. Understand normal growth patterns for breastfed babies.
  17. Coordinate services with, and provide appropriate referral to, other professionals, lay persons, and community groups.

L&D – student will spend one half-day/wk working with midwives and OB’s assisting in deliveries. The impact of birthing practices on breastfeeding will be emphasized.

Inpatient rounds – student will spend one half-day/wk participating in lactation rounds with the lactation consultant and going over case studies from the Wellstart Learning Module.

Field experience – 2 half-days/wk will be devoted to community experiences. Student will choose at least 6 community experiences that pertain to breastfeeding. Opportunities include but are not limited to; Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition, WIC office, private lactation consultations, Mother’s Milk Club, prenatal classes, Le Leche League, and various lactation meetings and support groups at surrounding hospitals. Opportunities will expand as more contacts are established.

Independent study – student will have two half-days/wk of protected study time that can be used for completing the Wellstart Learning Module with accompanying case studies and to research a topic in breastfeeding. They will present a breastfeeding topic of their choice during a designated meeting/lecture. (Chicago Breastfeeding Task Force monthly meeting, M3 pediatric clerkship lecture, M3 OB clerkship lecture, M3 family medicine clerkship lecture, and/or other designated meetings/lectures as determined by participating faculty.) Additionally, the student will be assigned readings relevant to breastfeeding medicine and evidence based practices.

Weekly lecture – pertains to the field of pediatrics and is attended by all students who are taking an elective within the pediatrics department. 1hr in duration each week.

**Mandatory meetings include:

  • The Lactation Club held weekly @ UIH
  • Chicago Breastfeeding Task Force meeting held monthly @ Stroger
  • Pediatrics E&M Conference: This is an educational enhancement specifically designed for the M4 student in Pediatrics – a case-based learning session designed to focus on issues that you likely will face as residents. All students in pediatrics elective will gather at 8am every Thursday of their rotation in 1208 CSB (12th floor conference room).


  1. Satisfactory completion of H&P and/or progress notes on all mothers and infants seen in the mother-baby unit as required.
  2. Satisfactory presentation of H&P’s to one or more faculty involved in the elective.
  3. Active participation in in-patient rounds.
  4. Completion of 6 community experiences during the 2-wk elective.
  5. The student will maintain a logbook of all community field experiences. Signatures from staff will be required to verify attendance at each of these experiences.
  6. Completion of WellStart International Program Lactation Management Self-Study Module I-III and accompanying examination.
  7. Completion of (7) case studies in the Wellstart Lactation Module.
  8. Presentation of topic related to breastfeeding at resident/medical student lecture.
  9. Completion of pre- and post-test (not counted toward grade but required).

Administrative Information Heading link

  • Program Number

    ELEC 265

  • Program Contacts

    Program Director: Shannon Murphy, MD

    Coordinator: Lupe Medina

  • Program Information

    Location: UI Health and CHUI (Children’s Hospital of the University of Illinois – 5W/PICU)

    Duration: 2 weeks
    Night Call: No
    Weekends: No
    Students Accepted: 1
    Housestaff Used as Faculty: No
    Lectures/Conferences/Faculty Contact:  10
    Laboratory:  0

    Independent Study:  4
    Outpatient:  18 (including community experiences)
    Inpatient:  8
    Total Hours/Week:  40


    To inquire about scheduling this elective, please contact Gauri Nagaraj, Student Programs Coordinator at Coordinator: Gauri Nagaraj at