Antoinette M. Kleiner, RN, MSN, IBCLC, is a Nurse Educator-Lactation Consultant at Indian Health Service (IHS) hospital Northern Navajo Medical Center in Shiprock, New Mexico. She led her hospital’s successful breastfeeding journey when they became designated in 2014, and has been a leader in sustaining the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) not only at Shiprock, but across Navajo Nation. She currently serves as facilitator for the Navajo Nation Breastfeeding Coalition’s “Community Conversations,” which are being conducted around Navajo Nation to gather people’s thoughts and needs around the question: "What can IHS and Navajo Nation do to help support breastfeeding?"
Antoinette has been extremely generous with her time and experience by going beyond her hospital to help other IHS hospitals on their Baby-Friendly journeys. Antoinette says, “I was thankful for the shared expertise from my colleagues around IHS that led the BFHI journey before us, and I was happy to be considered a content resource for those facilities needing additional help.” Ways she has offered such help include her participation in: IHS BFHI conference calls and webinar presentations, the formula purchasing and data collection workgroups with IHS Headquarters, and the Navajo Area’s IHS BFHI’s creation of common documentation templates, patient education handouts and an online SharePoint file library of their work. She has also answered questions by phone calls and emails, and has traveled to Gallup and Crownpoint to assist them in preparing for their BFHI assessments. She has helped numerous other facilities remotely.
When asked what differences she sees in Navajo Nation now that the IHS hospitals are Baby-Friendly, Antoinette said: “I see more moms continuing to breastfeed for longer durations, we have more moms [openly] tandem breastfeeding, more requests for lactation consults, more engorgement and yeast infections than we used to see—because moms are breastfeeding long enough to experience these. I see more moms confident in their right to work and breastfeed, and expect their employer to support them, and I have moms asking for my signature on their jury duty forms to postpone this civil duty due to exclusive breastfeeding. These are ‘problems’ we never used to see :).”
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).