“You must love your job,” is a statement I hear often in my position. As a Lactation Coordinator, I can truthfully answer that I absolutely do!
Working as a professional in a healthcare setting, it doesn’t get much better. I work every day with families that are, for the most part, healthy people going through a normal process of becoming a family.
My background is in antenatal and postpartum obstetrical nursing. After I had breastfed my own children and returned to work, I began working on a postpartum unit at the Salvation Army Grace General Hospital.
“I realized very quickly that I really enjoyed helping women initiate breastfeeding.”
Sometimes you wonder how your life is guided in different directions. A colleague happened to show me a brochure on becoming a lactation consultant. I immediately decided that this two-year correspondence program would work for me. Once I finished my course, three months after I wrote my international certification exam, a position was posted for the obstetrical program at the Grace Hospital … and the rest, as they say, was history!
I was the first Lactation Consultant hired for the hospital, and I can’t believe that almost 20 years have gone by. Since then, other lactation consultants have been working together in this region and across the province to provide support for women breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding has so many benefits for both mom and baby. Breastmilk is disease prevention in its simplest form. The evolving research regarding the complexity and biological specificity of breastmilk is so exciting!
“Helping families achieve their breastfeeding goals is very important to me.”
Prenatal education helps to inform families about breastfeeding so that they can make an informed choice. Once a mom has her newborn, the process of caring for and feeding this new little person can seem somewhat daunting.
Some families start breastfeeding because they know it is the normal healthy way to feed their babies. They continue breastfeeding often because they get the help and support they need in the early days and weeks. Encouragement and assistance from partners, family and friends is very important. I often tell new moms that true friendship is someone bringing you a casserole!
My job is to educate staff and help them develop skills to facilitate the early breastfeeding relationship. In complex cases, I am consulted initially in the hospital to guide moms in proper attachment, drinking at the breast and to offer continued outpatient support should they require it.
“Seeing new moms gain confidence through their babies’ growth is very exciting.”
Offering clinical skills, when they are necessary, to improve or enhance the breastfeeding relationship is a large part of the Lactation Consultant’s role. My favorite experiences are when moms come up to me years later just to say hello, or a toddler comes up to me at the supermarket and says, “My mom says to say thank you.” It really doesn’t get any better than that! ■
This story was written by Corinne Bursey, a lactation coordinator with Eastern Health.