Charlene Kevin, BA, CLC is a stellar Breastfeeding Peer Counselor 3 for the Mississippi Department of Health’s WIC Breastfeeding program, where she has worked for 13 years. During a recent CHAMPS site visit to Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi in Oxford, Mississippi, she provided excellent input and insight. Due to her extensive experience and skills in breastfeeding counseling, it is not surprising that Charlene was recently awarded the Breastfeeding Gold Level Loving Support Award of Excellence by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS)! The FNS developed the Loving Support Award of Excellence to recognize and celebrate local agencies that provide exemplary breastfeeding programs and support services.
Charlene shared with CHAMPS what she loves most about her job: “My favorite part of my job is helping mothers succeed in reaching their breastfeeding goals and when I get to witness a new mother’s ‘a-ha’ of when she realizes how breastfeeding is how babies are meant to be fed.” She feels personally motivated to do this work because of the experiences she has making an impact on mothers who need an advocate or just someone who will listen to them.
Like many of our CHAMPions, Charlene’s personal experiences as a mother have informed her work. She says, “I truly believe that without the circumstances I had with my first newborn and the help of a WIC Peer Counselor to overcome my breastfeeding challenges, I would not be where I am today helping other mothers reach their breastfeeding goals. I have successfully exclusively breastfed all 5 of my C-section babies [for] a total of almost 10 years breastfeeding.”
Charlene says her aim as a WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counselor is to “help women have a positive breastfeeding experience.” She teaches her clients about the benefits of breastfeeding, addresses any breastfeeding issues, and offers support and reassurance. In addition, Charlene reaches out to her local Pregnancy Center to promote breastfeeding awareness. She says that because she lives in a relatively small community, she often gets to see the “fruit” of her labors when she encounters mothers that she has helped with breastfeeding.
This week’s CHAMPion of the Week is Jennifer Melton, BSN, RNC, IBCLC, Director of Women’s Services at CHAMPS hospital Ochsner Medical Center – Kenner (OMC-K) in Kenner, Louisiana. Jennifer was nominated as CHAMPion of the Week for the great job she is doing leading her staff in their Baby-Friendly journey. OMC-K is in the Dissemination phase of the 4-D pathway, and they will soon be entering Designation!
Jennifer openly shared the ups and downs of her Baby-Friendly journey experience with CHAMPS, saying, “The Baby-Friendly journey has been challenging. Our unit has had to make a lot of workflow changes. We've had two big challenges to overcome, including Transition on Labor & Delivery (keeping the baby with the mother in the Labor & Delivery or Recovery room during the transition period, rather than bringing the baby to the Nursery), and prenatal education by the clinic staff and physicians. The most exciting change was receiving a lot of positive feedback from patients on our new Transition process on Labor & Delivery. It feels great to be almost to Designation. We've accomplished a lot in the last year and a half, and my staff should be very proud.”
Jennifer even created personalized chocolate bars to thank her staff; outside their regular wrapper, they contained an additional wrapper that read: “THERE’S NO WEIGH WE COULD DO IT WITHOUT YOU!” We asked Jennifer about what inspired her to create these, and she said, “I believe in celebrating little wins. I also feel that recognition inspires and motivates people.” Jennifer remembers how her night shift staff was slightly hesitant about weighing the babies in the mothers’ rooms, but once they started that process she noticed how the staff independently came up with a plan on how to integrate it into their workflow. Jennifer said, “I appreciated their willingness to make this change (without complaining to me). The candy was just a way of saying, ‘Thank you.’”
Jennifer has worked at OMC-K for 7 years. She says she started encouraging early skin-to-skin contact in 2012, and that their exclusive breastfeeding rate during the maternity hospital stay at that point was only 15%. She reports that it is now 33%. “We’ve still got a long way to go,” Jennifer says, “but we’re moving in the right direction.”
What is Jennifer’s advice to other hospitals seeking to become Baby-Friendly? She says, “Get the staff involved. Since the changes being implemented affect their workflows, they should be able to give input.” Jennifer made sure she set a clear vision and goals. Then she asked staff how they were going to achieve the goals; she was in awe with how her staff rose to the challenge. She says, “It's been amazing to see the creativity of the staff and how they have taken ownership of a large portion of this journey. We would not be where we are if I didn't have so many wonderful staff members on my team.”
Nikki Hunter Greenaway, BSN, MSN FNP-C, CLC, is a self-titled “mompreneur,” who owns a private practice, Nurse Nikki LLC, which provides both prenatal, postpartum and lactation counseling and education to families, and health consulting and CPR classes to child care centers, schools and businesses. She is a certified Family Nurse Practitioner, a Louisiana Child Care Health Consultant, and an American Heart Association CPR Instructor in the New Orleans, Louisiana area.
Nikki also teaches a free monthly parent CPR class to families at CHAMPS hospital Touro Infirmary. She facilitates breastfeeding workshops and support groups for both Healthy Start New Orleans and WIC, and is the co-founder of Café au Lait, a breastfeeding support group for women of color.
The mission of Café au Lait is to provide a culturally-appropriate environment where pregnant and nursing moms of color can gather to educate and encourage each other about breastfeeding. Nikki co-founded the group with fellow nurse, mom and CLC Latona Giwa. Nikki says both she and Latona were constantly being approached by breastfeeding mothers of color for breastfeeding support groups. They would refer them to local groups, but the mothers reported not feeling comfortable in the groups. Their issues were not the same as the other mothers, and the times did not fit into their schedules. Café au Lait was created out of this need in the community. Nikki says, “We understand that there is a huge gap in the breastfeeding rates among blacks and whites. Our goal is to create a supportive environment that educates, embraces and encourages breastfeeding in the black community.”
Nikki's most recent venture is becoming a ROSE (Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere) Community Transformer (CT) trainer. Nikki will be able train breastfeeding mothers in her community and surrounding areas on how to counsel and encourage other mothers along their breastfeeding journeys!
Nikki shares her excitement at becoming a CT trainer: “After years of attending conferences and collaborating on a number of projects including the Nursing Nook at the Essence Festival, I was invited to the ROSE office to train to teach the Community Transformer workshop to mothers here in New Orleans. I can't explain how awesome it was to be in the room and receive teachings from so many experienced black lactation advocates. A huge thank you to Mama Bugg, Mrs. Mary, Mrs. Betty and Mrs. Jerry for taking me under their wings. The CT model really brings back the idea of community women, the village, helping each other. I love this model and I think it's essential in educating the black community about breastfeeding.”
Congratulations, Nikki! We are excited about the work you are doing!
Note: This post has been transferred from CHAMPSbreastfeed.org. There was originally 1 comment. You can view it in this document.
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).