‘Not good enough’

Bonnie Learning
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Mother says lack of dedicated lactation consultant at LHC is detrimental to new moms

Jennifer Humby says she is saddened to learn there is no longer a dedicated Lactation Consultant in place at the Labrador Health Centre (LHC) in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

Jennifer Humby of Happy Valley-Goose Bay, said she would never have been able to successfully breastfeed her now 11-month old daughter if not for the support from two former Lactation Consultant’s at the Labrador Health Centre. She was saddened to hear there is no longer a dedicated LC in place at the LHC.

“I would never have breastfed if it wasn’t for the (former LC’s),” said Humby. “I attribute my breastfeeding success 100 per cent to the LC’s.

“They encouraged me and supported me through the entire process, even when I became frustrated and wanted to stop trying. They never pressured me or made me feel inadequate.”

Labrador-Grenfell Health has been without a LC since April, when the second of just two LC’s left her position.

The two had been working on a part-time and contractual basis with Labrador-Grenfell Health (LGH).

Humby said not only did the two help her become successful at breastfeeding her now 11-month old daughter, but they were also instrumental in helping her through other issues, including a bout with post-partum depression and anxiety from being a new mother.

She feels the breastfeeding piece, and the other issues that can accompany it, are best served by someone who is not only specialized in the field, but also totally dedicated to the position.

“I would see the LC’s anywhere from 2-3 times a week for the first month or so,” recalled Humby.

“They kept in contact with me, checked up on me. They were a someone outside my close family and friends who could help me get through what I was going through.”

Humby says although she is grateful the nurses on staff tried their best to help her with breastfeeding shortly after her daughter’s birth, she feels she was best served by the LC’s who were specialized in the field.

“Breastfeeding is supposed to be ‘natural’ but based on my own experience, it was far from it; it really is a learned skill that requires ongoing support from the LC to be successful.”

No lack of support

Donnie Sampson has been hearing many concerns in the last week from breastfeeding advocates, current breastfeeding moms and pregnant women, about the vacant position at the hospital.

As L-GH’s Vice President of Nursing, Sampson said breastfeeding mothers and moms-to-be should not be worried about the lack of a dedicated LC at the LHC, as there is still plenty of support for breastfeeding within the organization.

“One of the roles of L-GH is to be a breastfeeding friendly organization,” said Sampson.

“This is achieved through the work of our regional LC (based in Labrador West) in her duties, which includes clinical support for all front-line nurses, to teach them the (lactation consultant) skills; develop policies to ensure we are breastfeeding friendly; and deliver educational programs to make sure we are meeting national standards for breastfeeding.”

Sampson also noted that it is the goal of L-GH to eventually train all front-line staff, including regional, public health, and inpatient and OBS nurses, the necessary skill set to teach breastfeeding skills to new mothers.

“All three public health nurses at the LHC are trained in breastfeeding skills,” she noted. “And while one of the three is currently on maternity leave, her replacement is actively training in this area.”

Sylvia Doody, is the regional director of Population Health Management for Labrador-Grenfell Health.

She said cross-training all nursing staff will help promote longevity of the breastfeeding skills to help new mothers.

“If someone leaves a position, the support is still there, it’s continuous,” said Doody.

She said while pubic health nurses with L-GH have the skills to teach breastfeeding, they would consult with the regional LC in Labrador West on more complex cases.

Anyone with concerns or questions on breastfeeding support are welcome to contact Donnie Sampson at 897-2262, or Sylvia Doody at 897-2137.

Still concerned

Judy Voisey is the resource mother for the AFC’s Healthy Baby Club.

While believes L-GH’s plans for cross-training is a good model overall, mothers have informed her they are still concerned about the direct effect the lack of dedicated LC will have.

“Public Health is great, no doubt,” said Voisey, “They have provided support to Healthy Baby Club from the beginning, but they are also very busy.”

Dee Dee Voisey (no relation) agrees.

Voisey was one of the two former LC’s at the LHC. She now works as a private LC, in addition to a new full-time job.

She, too, believes the lack of a dedicated LC will hurt new moms in their attempt to breastfeed.

“A public health nurse can probably help new mothers with some of the more common issues when it comes to breastfeeding, but very complex issues can arise, which would require a much more specialized body of knowledge, including baby not latching properly after delivery, baby not gaining weight, and so on,” said Voisey. “Not to mention any issues the mother has that might need extra support post-partum.”

Voisey feels there is enough demand to at least fill a part-time LC position.

“Myself and (the other former LC) were very busy, between the outpatient clinics, home visits, inpatients. There should at least be part-time support in place.”

 

bonnie.learning@tc.tc

Organizations: Lactation Consultant, Labrador Health Centre, Population Health Management for Labrador-Grenfell Health Healthy Baby Club

Geographic location: Happy Valley, Goose Bay, Labrador West

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  • Alicia
    July 17, 2014 - 12:15

    As a mother of two children who were both born at LGH in HVGB I must say the changes that has occured with that hospital since having my first child in 2000 and my second child in 2013 is sad. My daughter was born when the hospital just opened and the Lactation Consultant visited almost instantly and the other two days i was in the hospital encouraging me to breastfeed my baby. While I did not decide to breastfeed at that time, the LC still encouraged me and kept checking in. I was young and did not understand the benefits or want to learn. Thirteen years later I had my second child and i wanted to breastfeed but no lactation consultant visited me. The nurses tried showing me methods that did not work. My baby wouldnt latch and it was painful. The nurses also said if I dont decide to breastfeed that would be fine my baby will still grow. I didnt give up. I read books, watched youtube videos and asked friends trying to learn breastfeeding techniques that wouldnt cause me pain and would provide my child with the proper milk supply. I waited to get an appointment with an LC about two weeks after my son was born. And during my first visit with her she taught me how to hold my baby comfortably and explained in great detail how to latch him to my breast properly at the first visit on my first attempt. She kept in touch after my visit, thereafter, calling me and checking to see if i was ok, recommending natural creams for sore nipples. Do you really think nurses will take the time to do this? When do they have the time? Our hospital is already overworked and understaffed. Some of the nurses were grumbling at each other while i was in the hospital after my baby was born because they are EXHAUSTED! I hope us Labrador women don't back down and we fight to keep this beneficial and crucial health position in Happy valley. The number of people wanting to breastfeed is increasing, this will only deter women from even attempting to want to try.Because it is not easy. It was one of the hardest most demanding things to learn but I could only thank my LC for her determination and passion to teach me an other mothers this life skill. Don't take it away from us and our future generations!