As a first-time mother, Lindsay Ross, says Elliot Hospital’s lactation team and its Moms group were her lifelines when she gave birth five years ago to her son, Jack.
“For me, breastfeeding didn’t come naturally,” she says. “I think if I had been left to try to figure it out on my own, and I didn’t have their support, I probably would have moved on to something else to make sure he was fed.”
Giving birth to her son five weeks early, Ross says it was invaluable to have consistent advice from lactation consultants, as well as the weekly firstname.lastname@example.org led by Colleen Moloney, RN, IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant).
“As a new mom you don’t really know what you’re doing,” says Ross, who a year later had her daughter Hazel, now four. “I think in your mind you think nursing is going to come to you naturally. But for me it was really awkward and they just had a way to make it feel natural and comfortable.”
The lactation team’s stepped up efforts to educate and support newborn feeding practices hasn’t gone unnoticed.
Elliot Hospital recently received a perfect 100 score on the 2020 Maternity Practices in Infant Nutrition and Care (mPINC) national survey, which assesses immediate post-partum care, rooming-in, feeding practices, feeding education, discharge support and institutional management. The average score is 81 in the U.S., 85 in the Northeast region and 83 for similar-sized hospitals.
Anne Frechette, MSN, RNC-MNN, Nurse Manager Maternity & Lactation Services, says the hospital’s jump in score over two years from 81 to 100 was a concerted effort to “hardwire into Elliot’s culture and care a focus on the World Health Organization’s 10 Steps to Successful Breastfeeding.”
A multidisciplinary committee – of lactation consultants, nurses, pediatricians, nutritionists, obstetricians, and primary care providers - “spent countless hours to assure our policies were up-to-date with the most evidence-based practices,” says Nancy Ramirez, RN, IBCLC.
As part of their orientation, all nurses spend five hours with a certified lactation consultant and complete a 15-hour course specifically for hospital staff developed by the New Hampshire Breastfeeding Taskforce.
It has meant a shift in the hospital’s culture. Newborn babies used to stay in the nursery throughout the night. Now babies room-in.
“We help mothers during what can be challenging times by helping them initiate skin-to-skin contact right after birth, even after a C-section while they’re finishing up surgery,” Frechette says. “We encourage breastfeeding on demand, to help build milk supply.”
For mothers whose babies are in NICU and can’t be breastfed, the staff assists them in pumping and storing milk.
“We educate and support the mothers so they can make an informed choice to avoid supplements, if not necessary,” Ramirez says. Lactation consultants also are available after a patient is discharged. In fact, new mothers in the community who don’t deliver at Elliot Hospital also may call in or make appointments.
“It’s impossible to tell a mom when they leave the hospital, ‘This is exactly how it’s going to work for you forever,’” says Amanda Morneau, BSN, RNC-EFM, CCE, Childbirth Education Coordinator for Elliot Hospital. “It’s very reassuring for the moms that if something pops up they have the resources to access very easily to help them navigate through their lactation journey.”
The comprehensive program begins with prenatal education.
Lactation consultants and nurses throughout the Elliot Health System – including labor and delivery nurses, maternity nurses, NICU nurses, and nurses from pediatrician’s offices – offer free virtual childbirth education classes to more than 350 expecting mothers annually.
“Moms are entitled to make their own decision about whether to breastfeed,” Morneau says. “We just want to make sure they can feel more confident in the choice they are making by having all of the information. It’s definitely not a one size fits all.”
And for new mothers like Ross, the weekly Moms group for the first year was just what she needed. “Wednesdays were always my favorite day of the week because I knew I was going to be surrounded by other moms,” she says. “Colleen has created such an amazing community for positivity and caring that just allows you to come to her on your good days and your ugly days of being a mom in the trenches.”
To sign up for classes expecting mothers can call 603-660-4567 or contact online at email@example.com.