Congratulations to Chickasaw Nation Medical Center in Ada, Oklahoma, on achieving Baby-Friendly designation! Congratulations to Lisa Eddings, BS, RN and Kathy Gilchrist, BS, RNC-OB, IBCLC, who have hung in there through thick and thin and are models in patience and persistence. CHAMPS has been proud to know and assist you on this journey!
“It feels like I just gave birth,” shares Kathy, Lactation Counselor/Educator and CHAMPS Team Lead. “It’s a big relief because it was a long time coming. We’re excited about it. We’re still going to have to do improvements every year, so we will carry on as usual.”
Chickasaw’s Baby-Friendly journey began about 5 years ago when Lisa and Kathy attended a “Becoming Baby-Friendly in Oklahoma” conference and signed up to become Baby-Friendly. From there, the changes began. For example, instead of having separate nurses care for babies and mothers, they began practicing couplet care. And instead of separating babies from their mothers for up to 2 hours for the admission process, the nurses started coming to the delivery rooms to admit babies.
“That was a big challenge—” Kathy says, “getting people out of their comfort zone, changing the way they do things.”
In addition to coordinating the Baby-Friendly committee, Kathy developed education for the Women’s Clinic and a Baby-Friendly template for their electronic charting system. Kathy has also created a Baby-Friendly skills lab, a mandatory 2- or 3-day training held every year.
Kathy, who has worked at Chickasaw for 18 years and became a lactation consultant in 2015, feels like it would be “withholding medical care” to not promote breastfeeding with her patients. She says it is especially important for communities such as Chickasaw Nation since it decreases the risk of certain diseases prevalent among American Indians such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
Chickasaw Nation Medical Center is now the 3rd American Indian Baby-Friendly hospital in Oklahoma. Claremore IHS, a federally operated site, was the 1st Baby-Friendly hospital in Oklahoma, and now there are 2 tribal sites—Cherokee Nation and Chickasaw Nation. All 13 federal IHS hospitals were designated between 2012 and 2014, and now, 4 out of 5 tribally operated hospitals in the lower 48 are designated as well. This is an incredible record!
Kathy says, “I could not have done any of it without the help of everyone on the Baby-Friendly Committee, especially Lisa Eddings, OB Educator and Assistant Manager. Lisa’s been here the whole time, originally started it, and always supported me. Without her I couldn’t have gotten anywhere. Carey Terrell has been the OB Unit Manager for the last year and she has been a great help. And our CHAMPS helper Kristen Krane—she helped tremendously by keeping me on track always checking to make sure everything was in order. Our OB Unit really experienced a change in culture. There have been adjustments and we continue to adapt and implement best practice in our patient care. As a whole, all of our staff and Women’s Clinic have placed focus on providing family-centered care because we recognize this is the best way to get life started.”
Shannon Grosch, RN, BSN, IBCLC, is a Lactation Consultant and the CHAMPS Team Lead at Touro Infirmary in New Orleans, Louisiana. Shannon has been doing an outstanding job leading her team through the Baby-Friendly journey and devising an organized system for more prenatal education. She also recently educated the public about breastfeeding by appearing on a local television station and publishing an article in New Orleans Living Magazine.
CHAMPS recently named Touro “Hospital of the Week” for earning “The Gift” designation, an award given by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Bureau of Family Health to hospitals that successfully implement the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding. This award shows the wonderful progress Touro has been making towards Baby-Friendly designation.
Shannon shares, “Seeing all of our hard work at Touro come together for our patients has been incredible. Being on The Baby-Friendly pathway shows Touro's commitment to improving the quality of our maternity services and enhancing patient-centered care. I couldn't be more proud to be a part of Touro's Baby-Friendly team.”
The audit tools of the Baby-Friendly process helped Shannon recognize the need for more prenatal education. She devised a creative and organized system of educating patients in the prenatal clinics of the OBGYNs that deliver at Touro. This system has involved educating physicians, midwives and staff; educating patients and families in clinic waiting rooms; and ensuring clinicians are participating in the breastfeeding education plan for each patient. Shannon uses the documents, checklists and app offered by Coffective, and says the feedback from clinicians and patients regarding this prenatal education system has been “overwhelmingly positive” and “rewarding” for her. In December 2016, Shannon was a presenter for one of our CHAMPS webinars, in which she shared her prenatal education system with other hospitals.
What personally motivates Shannon to do this work? She shares, “As a lactation consultant and mother of three children, I recognize the importance of breastfeeding for mothers and babies. I hope to reach as many mothers and families as I possibly can to ensure that all women have the knowledge regarding infant feeding to make the best, most informed decision for her and her baby. I couldn't ask for a better career or a better hospital to work for.”
Congratulations, Shannon! You are a true CHAMPion in the field of lactation!
This week’s CHAMPion of the Week is Blackfeet Nation’s Community Breastfeeding Team, for its inspiring steps towards making Blackfeet Nation a breastfeeding-friendly community! CHEER’s American Indian/Alaska Native CHAMPS program (AI/AN CHAMPS) works with tribes and hospitals across the US to improve breastfeeding support in AI/AN communities.
The Community Breastfeeding Team’s main vision is to create a “Poka-Friendly Community.” (Poka means “child” in the Blackfeet language.) The Team identified several practices that communities can do to embrace breastfeeding. One of those practices is a public declaration of the community’s support for breastfeeding through signage.
On Mother’s Day 2017, the Team unveiled the first of 3 large road signs stating, “Blackfeet Nation is Breastfeeding Country,” with a ceremony in Browning, Montana, the capital of Blackfeet Nation. The ceremony included a welcome by Rosemary Cree Medicine, Director of Blackfeet Nation’s Tribal Health Department; an overview of the project by Kirsten Krane, AI/AN CHAMPS Project Manager; a prayer by Cinda Burd, AI/AN CHAMPS Consultant; and a plug on the Water Initiative by Stefany Jones, Public Health Nutritionist. A rose was given to each woman who attended. The ceremony concluded with a dramatic unveiling of the sign, cheered on by all present. A special thanks to Blackfeet Academy for having their students pick up garbage at the site, and to the Blackfeet Hot Shots and Land Department for assisting with the erecting of the signs.
The signs, funded by AI/AN CHAMPS, were made and hand-painted by local artist, Mark Winters, on 6-foot diameter steel discs mounted onto railroad ties using a marine-grade primer and oil-based paints. Weighing around 1300 lbs. each, the signs were designed to be “as sturdy and permanent as possible,” and to withstand the strong winds on the eastern front of the Rockies. All 3 signs will be strategically placed within the Blackfeet Reservation (one right in the middle of Browning; another where the road enters Browning from the west; another just outside of Browning to the north).
Mark shares, “I think the signs are a great idea. It’s a great community awareness project. This is a community that needs positivity. When people first come into town, they will be able to see a bright positive message.”
Mark and the Community Breastfeeding Team brainstormed design ideas together, and the Team picked the final design, an eye-catching combination of traditional indigenous symbols and colors.
“I wanted people to be able to look at the signs and take in the message but not run off the road,” says Mark, “Something simple and not too distracting. I also wanted something hand-painted, not something made on a computer. I wanted it to have a human touch.”
“The medallion is a traditional shape, like the top of a drum,” explains Mark. “The triangular mountains are also traditional. The ring of 32 eagle feathers is taken from the Blackfeet Nation flag, and symbolizes the Tribe creating a circle of protection around babies. The foot in the middle is a universal symbol for babies.” The concentric rings, colored blue for the sky from the Blackfeet Nation flag and various sunset colors, “draw the eye towards the center.”
The Poka-Friendly Community project is also working toward establishing employee breastfeeding policies and spaces, training healthcare workers in breastfeeding support, and assisting the Blackfeet Community Hospital with maintaining Baby-Friendly status. The “Breastfeeding in the Workplace” policy for employees was successfully adopted by the Browning Public School District on May 25, 2016.
The Community Breastfeeding Team is led by Blackfeet Nation’s Tribal Health Department, the Blackfeet Community Health Representative (CHR) Program, AI/AN CHAMPS, Blackfeet Community Hospital, Blackfeet Community College, Browning Public Schools and the Blackfeet Tribe.
Rosemary Cree Medicine feels proud of the work being done—of the signs and the fact that nurses are talking to new moms about breastfeeding as a traditional practice passed down by their ancestors.
“It’s important for the new moms to learn all about breastfeeding and how it will help their babies,” shares Rosemary. “[The Poka-Friendly Community project] is about bringing up healthier kids and babies. And for me, anybody healthy—whether child or adult—I’m all for it, because I’m all for health.”
This week, we are excited to cheer on a new nonprofit doing amazing work, Nurture Project International (NPI)! NPI, founded in March 2016, supports some of the most vulnerable women and babies, those fleeing war and crisis. Currently, NPI has 2 programs, one in Thessaloniki in northern Greece with refugees predominantly from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and the other in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq near Mosul with internally displaced persons and refugees. NPI’s mission is to uphold “a safe and supported motherhood” by primarily providing lactation support, in addition to reproductive health care and nutrition support to families (nurtureprojectinternational.org). NPI helps 50-100 families per month.
It is well documented that breastfeeding is the safest feeding method for babies in emergency and crisis situations. One of NPI’s outstanding recent achievements was to increase breastfeeding rates at 3 of the refugee camps they worked at in Thessaloniki from approximately 50% of women, to 100%.
NPI Media & Marketing Director Susan Greenbank shares the story of these 3 camps: “When our team first met many of the mothers feeding infant formula, the mothers often had just one bottle each, with no access to brushes or soap for cleaning. Our team met babies who were sick or failing to thrive. Our volunteer midwives and lactation consultants worked with mothers to resume breastfeeding if they had previously stopped (relactation), establish breastfeeding and/or build up their supply. We worked intensively with mothers, often checking in with each mother several times a day. We also provided a private space to breastfeed in our mother and baby tents.”
In another story, from NPI volunteer Linda Roberts, a mother from one of the camps in Thessaloniki had given birth to a 3lb premie in a local hospital. Back at camp, NPI had supported her to “express milk, which her husband took to the hospital daily on the bus until baby, smaller than a sack of flour, joined his parents in the camp,” which was based in “a dirty warehouse with a damp cement floor. With a tremendous amount of support this little one was gaining weight successfully on his mama’s milk,” when Linda’s time with NPI concluded and his care passed on to other NPI volunteers.
In Greece, in addition to lactation support, NPI provides basic antenatal care and postnatal care, and distributes food and supply packs to pregnant and lactating women and children 6-24 months of age. As many of the camps in which NPI was working closed due to the cold winter, NPI now also provides mobile outreach services to families, visiting them at the hotels and apartments where they were relocated.
In Iraq, NPI is setting up its program to train local health workers and community members so they can provide appropriate lactation support in their communities. NPI also plans to work with other humanitarian organizations and the Department of Health to build capacity of their staff to identify lactation challenges and provide technical support in relactation, complementary feeding, and mothering in complex environments.
NPI’s entire team is comprised of volunteer lactation consultants, breastfeeding support counsellors, midwives, and nurses from around the world, including the USA, UK, UAE, Italy, Germany, Spain and Australia. Some volunteers work on the ground for a week or 2, while others stay for weeks or months at a time. In addition, NPI has more than 30 virtual volunteers from around the world that look after NPI’s business and logistical needs.
Check out NPI’s website for more information and to explore volunteer and donation opportunities! Much of their work is self-funded through supporter donations, so they are always in need of donations to keep doing this incredible work. They are also always seeking IBCLC support at their camps. Watch this video celebrating their 1-year anniversary! We applaud NPI’s work and feel honored to have such inspiring colleagues in our field!
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.