This week’s CHEER Champion of the Week is Lou Ann Wall, RN, IBCLC, Lactation Nurse at CHAMPS hospital King’s Daughters Medical Center (KDMC) in Brookhaven, Mississippi. Lou Ann was nominated for the incredible breastfeeding support she does at KDMC and the Circle of Moms Baby Café Cluster.
“What I love most about my job is helping moms,” Lou Ann shares. “It makes me so happy to see a mom smile when I tell her she is doing a great job. When some moms come for weight checks and see that their baby is gaining weight, they sigh in relief because they were so worried the baby wasn't getting enough. I just love seeing moms feel confident in themselves.”
Lou Ann wears many hats at KDMC. On any given day, she attends deliveries and assists with skin-to-skin and breastfeeding; follows-up with moms after discharge; conducts weight checks and lactation consults as needed; and helps moms with breastfeeding concerns via text or phone. As CHAMPS Lactation Lead helping KDMC on their Baby-Friendly journey, Lou Ann also records CHAMPS monthly data; conducts Baby-Friendly maternal surveys; worked on KDMC’s Feeding Policy and updated nursery policies following Baby-Friendly guidelines; and oversees staff/physician education for Baby-Friendly Designation.
“My job at KDMC is wonderful and busy!” says Lou Ann. “And we are almost to Designation! I am nervous and anxious, but ready to be designated. We have worked hard as a unit and I believe we are ready. The changes we have made at KDMC have been made possible by the most amazing staff.”
Another hat Lou Ann wears is as IBCLC for the Circle of Moms Baby Café Cluster. This Baby Café Cluster actually began as a breastfeeding support group at KDMC, which Lou Ann started in early 2016. They met once a month for over a year, and in June 2017, joined with the Mississippi Department of Health to open the Café Cluster. The Café Cluster now meets in 3 locations, and Lou Ann serves as IBCLC for 2 of the locations, KDMC and the Lincoln County Public Library in Brookhaven. Last year, Lou Ann and some moms also started a KDMC Breastfeeding Support Group Facebook page, and Lou Ann continues to monitor that site.
Like many lactation consultants, Lou Ann’s personal experiences motivate her to do this work.
“I did not breastfeed my 4 babies because I did not get the education about breastfeeding,” Lou Ann openly shares. “Nobody talked about it when I had my children. Now that I know the benefits of breast milk I feel cheated that I wasn't educated prenatally. I can't say for sure that I would have breastfed but if someone had shared that information with me personally I could say now that I made an educated decision. Another motivation is seeing a mom get through the rough times and reach goals, which is super rewarding.”
Congratulations, Lou Ann, and thank you for all that you do!
Congratulations to St. Tammany Parish Hospital (STPH) in Covington, Louisiana, for becoming Baby-Friendly designated on October 25, 2018! STPH was part of the first wave of the CHAMPS South program, from 2015 to 2017. They performed 1,875 births in 2017 and have a level III NICU.
“It is a great pleasure and relief to know we as a team have achieved designation and are able to provide this gold standard of maternal/child care,” says Jan Waddell, RN, BSN, IBCLC, CHAMPS Team Leader at STPH.
STPH’s Baby-Friendly journey began in December 2015. Jan says their greatest challenge was educating their staff and community about the need to stop performing non-medically necessitated hospital routines that separate mothers and babies in favor of embracing 24-hour rooming-in. However, thanks to everyone’s perseverance, Jan says STPH has had an astounding 51% increase in 24-hour rooming-in over the past 3 years.
Jan shares: “The success of this journey would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of the nursing staff and the collaboration of multi-disciplinary teams, and to them we are very grateful. Without the support of STPH management and administration this journey would have never begun. We especially thank Kerry Milton, Senior Vice President/Chief Nursing Officer; Cindy Ingram, Director of Nursing Women and Children Services; and Nicole Norris, former Department Head for Nursery/Lactation/NICU/Pediatrics.”
What is Jan’s advice to other hospitals seeking to become Baby-Friendly?
“Don’t give up,” she says. “There will be many times you want to when you feel like others don’t see the importance and validity of Baby-Friendly. Once changes become the new norm and the benefits are obvious, many nay-sayers become your biggest advocates.”
Well done, STPH, and thank you for everything you are doing to help mothers and babies receive the best, evidence-based care!
Congratulations to CHEER Hospital of the Week, Merit Health River Oaks in Flowood, Mississippi, for becoming Baby-Friendly designated on October 26, 2018! Merit Health River Oaks started their Baby-Friendly journey in 2015 and joined CHAMPS in 2017. They are known in their community as being a family-centered facility that welcomes natural births and has the ability to do VBACs (vaginal birth after cesarean section). They performed 1,470 births in 2017, have a level III NICU, and receive infants from other hospitals into their NICU who need a higher level of care.
“Becoming Baby-Friendly has been a challenging yet very fulfilling experience,” shares Jean Dunn, RN BSN, CLC, CHAMPS Team Leader and OB Education Coordinator at Merit Health River Oaks. “The biggest reward, as described by nurse manager Stephanie Williamson, has been the joy of watching families forming before our eyes. Siblings now do not have to watch their newborns behind a nursery window, but can be in the same room during the transition period. For me as an OB Educator, watching all the departments working hard to change their processes and truly work together has been one of the greatest moments. To have a labor and delivery nurse excited to help a baby get latched puts a smile on my face.”
Of course, Merit Health River Oaks’ Baby-Friendly journey has not been free from challenges. As the OB Education Coordinator, Jean was keenly aware of the overwhelming need to educate their entire staff, which includes hundreds of people, on both short- and long-term goals.
“My motto was ‘change without chaos.’ If it wasn’t working, we made changes,” Jean says.
Thanks to Baby-Friendly practices, Merit Health River Oaks’ family-friendly care has only been strengthened. Interestingly, one indication of this is the noise level in their maternity services unit. Jean says that 3 years ago in the nursery during the morning hours, there might be 10-20 babies waiting to be checked and a “very noisy atmosphere.” Today, babies room-in with their moms and staff go to them for check-ups and charting. Jean recently took a gentleman on a tour of their facility, and he asked how many babies they had on the unit that day. Jean responded that it was full with 18 mothers and babies, to which the gentleman asked why he couldn’t hear any babies crying.
“Babies are happy when they are with their moms,” Jean proudly responded.
Jean says their success in becoming Baby-Friendly is due to the contributions of their entire group, including physicians, nurse leaders, administrators, and “those in the trenches.” She says in the early stages many staff members said it could not be done. In the 6 weeks before receiving designation, those same staff were asking daily if they passed. Jean says the entire hospital is proud of their accomplishments.
Great job, Merit Health River Oaks! CHAMPS celebrates with you!
This week’s CHEER Champion of the Week is Melody Sharp, BA, Owner of Living Foods Wellness Café in Oxford, Mississippi. Melody was nominated as CHEER Champion of the Week for her determination to exclusively breastfeed all 3 of her children despite significant challenges she has faced! Melody is the daughter of Cathy Carothers, BLA, IBCLC, FILCA, CHAMPS Mississippi Liaison & Trainer, and Co-director of Every Mother, Inc.
Melody is the mother of 3 beautiful, breastfed boys, ages 8, 6, and 4 months, but breastfeeding them has been far from easy. Here’s a rundown of the obstacles Melody has faced: 3 C-sections; milk delay with Baby #1 who had to go to the NICU and was supplemented; major milk protein allergies with Baby #1 and #2; poor latching and weight gain issues with Baby #3. Baby #3 is Levi, born May 16, 2018, and it took 2 months of Melody’s perseverance to finally settle into a smooth breastfeeding routine.
“You would think you know what you’re doing by the third but each baby is different,” Melody shared with CHAMPS in August. “He had slow weight gain and trouble emptying the breast. So I had to pump after each feeding and supplement with that. Some days were better than others confidence-wise. I called my mom frustrated more than a few times, but I knew I wanted to keep nursing so we just kept at it. It has finally gotten better and we are at a place where we just enjoy each other now, but it took a lot of work to get here.”
Thankfully, Melody had the support of her mom and of Sabrina Ganaway, RN, IBCLC, a Lactation Consultant at CHAMPS hospital North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo, where Melody delivered Levi. For the first few days when Levi was having a hard time latching, Sabrina helped feed Levi Melody’s pumped milk from a syringe and tube instead of a bottle which may have later interfered with breastfeeding.
“Sabrina was amazing!” Melody said. “She was extremely encouraging and patient, and full of good ideas.”
For Melody, other bright spots amidst a challenging start included rooming-in with Levi and that her husband, James, got to do skin-to-skin with Levi while she was recovering from her C-section.
James’ words capture just how much skin-to-skin can mean to fathers: “Doing skin-to-skin with Levi meant everything to me. Holding Levi on my skin at birth was like a father instinct just suddenly kicked in or maybe I was rewired at that moment. It's as if we came into a place of oneness. As I gazed upon him, I remember being in awe of how beautiful he is and how he instinctively knew to root around looking for momma's milk. I feel like that moment primed him to be ready for Melody to nurse him.”
Melody’s commitment to breastfeed her children eventually paid off, and it also brought her into her current profession. Melody decided to open Living Foods Wellness Café after breastfeeding her first 2 who had severe milk protein allergies and her second son developed gluten-intolerance, all which forced her to become very educated about food.
“I decided to open my store to give people with allergies a safe eating out option and an alternative for those who just want to eat well. We’ve been open 4 years now and I just love it,” Melody said.
Congratulations, Melody! Your story is inspiring and CHAMPS wishes you the best!
CHEER Champion of the week
Each week, we will recognize a CHEER Champion for all the work they have done for CHEER (Center for Health Equity, Education, and Research)/CHAMPS (Communities and Hospitals Advancing Maternity Practices).