This week’s CHEER CHAMPion is Jasmine Esmay, BSN, RNC-OB, CLC, and IBCLC. Jasmine works as a Certified Inpatient Obstetric Nurse and Lactation Consultant at Southeast Alaska Regional Healthcare System (SEARHC), Mt. Edgecumbe Medical Center. She has been a nurse for 17 years and currently works in the Obstetric department at SEARHC as a frontline nurse caring for laboring and postpartum families. Jasmine was nominated for recently completing her IBCLC certification and for improving the breastfeeding program at SEARHC.
“Jasmine has been the driving force behind our Breastfeeding Lactation Circle and prenatal breastfeeding classes. She coordinates all the lactation follow ups and support here at SEARHC.” – Susan Ward, Manager Labor and Delivery, SEARHC, Mt Edgecumbe Medical Center
Jasmine has been working at SEARHC, a Baby-Friendly critical access hospital, since 2018. “When I came here the Baby-Friendly program was already in place, but I saw a need for closer postpartum follow up. We have since designed and implemented a follow up phone call program for every family that delivers at SEARHC MEMC, through which check and follow up for up to ten days post-delivery” Jasmine shared. “This timeline was designed to facilitate early identification of feeding difficulties or postpartum health concerns such as delayed milk production, excessive weight loss, postpartum depression and other issues that might point to an obstetric emergency.”
Jasmine also teaches a free infant feeding class and facilitates a monthly support group called The Lactation Circle OR TLC. Here, she focuses on the effects of birth on the breastfeeding journey, as well as equipping new families with tools to succeed when they face special challenges as a result of their birth. She is motivated to do this work by her life’s experiences and the desire to improve attitudes, and promote evidence-based care models in the US, so her 4 daughters and all future generations of humankind have better birth experiences and outcomes.
“I love the 1:1 time that we get to spend helping new families adjust to life events. I think the continuity of care we are able to provide, because we are small, is really beneficial for helping families reach their goals…I am thankful for the practice changes and Baby-Friendly hospitals that recognize how harmful the old practices [such as suctioning, weighing, measuring and then swaddling the baby immediately after birth] are to infant feeding. We still have A LOT of work to do, but there has been improvement.”
Jasmine continues to ensure evidence based postpartum care for her patients during the pandemic. She is happy to be able to provide telehealth lactation consults to the surrounding remote villages that SEARHC serves. She is also currently working on a plan to expand evidenced-based lactation education to the many rural and indigenous villages in Southeast Alaska. “I would like to be able to travel to the surrounding remote villages when COVID is over, to teach frontline healthcare providers basic breastfeeding support techniques.”
Jasmine is a member of the United States Lactation Association (USLCA) Advisory and Alaska Breastfeeding Coalition Boards. She loves to hike, fish, forage, and spend time in nature with her husband and 4 daughters. She also used to sing, play guitar, write music, and perform at local venues, in the pre-COVID era.
Congratulations Jasmine, we admire your passion and commitment to providing evidence-based postpartum care and breastfeeding support for the families you serve!
You can read more about Jasmine Esmay here.
This week’s CHAMPion is Marina Liakis, a French/Greek national who runs the Orange House and Tastes of Damascus to serve the refugee population in Greece, and has collaborated with CHEERing on various projects.
Recently Marina had a baby in Greece and has become a breastfeeding advocate and supporter after learning a great deal through her personal experience.
"Being pregnant while living in Greece made me realize the lack of support for women who wish to breastfeed their children. Throughout pregnancy I kept hearing urban myths such as "women who give birth by cesarean section do not have milk." In the hospital where I gave birth, women were provided with formula right away if they were struggling on their first days with their babies”
“I got lucky because I had a supportive atmosphere in my personal life as regards breastfeeding. When I found out that it was possible to donate your milk to help other babies, I wanted to help right away! I am really proud to donate my milk!” So far Marina has collected 7 liters of her milk in order to donate at Athens' lactarium.
Congratulations Marina, thank you for your service to refugee populations and for donating your milk to help babies in need!
CHEER Champion of the week
Each Monday (besides public holidays), we will recognize a CHEER Champion for all the support they have provided for CHEER, CHAMPS, or the general public.