Lactation consultants ease transition for breastfeeding moms

February 27, 2007
At New Hanover Regional Medical Center, newborns like Peyton Schlossnagle are getting a head start in life as a result of their mother’s breast milk and a little help from one of the region’s only fully staffed Lactation Consultant programs.

Recognizing the need to assist new mothers in the early stages of
breastfeeding, NHRMC’s Lactation Consultant program employs three board-certified lactation consultants to provide breastfeeding support and education that’s free to new moms.

“Breast is best,” said Kay Potter, an NHRMC registered nurse and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. “We know for a fact a mother’s breast milk is better for a baby, but it’s never as easy as the books and movies make it out to be.”

Nutrient-rich with antibodies, proteins and enzymes that fight infection and promote good health, human breast milk is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics for the first six months of a baby’s life.
Making good on that recommendation, however, can often be difficult for new moms.

“There are all kinds of anatomical challenges that can make a baby have a more difficult time latching onto the mother, including flat or inverted nipples,” Potter said.

“Breast shells can be worn inside the bra to help evert nipples, improving latch. Some mothers have better success after brief use of a breast pump.”
And it’s not all just up to mom, she said.

“A baby can also have his challenges,” she said. Occasionally, a newborn has a short frenulum, often referred to as a “tongue-tie.” A short frenulum can prevent the baby from extending his tongue over the bottom gum, interfering with the baby’s ability to achieve a good latch.

Hands-on help from consultants and the hospital’s postpartum nurses, also trained in breastfeeding education and often first to a mother’s bedside, help reinforce sound breastfeeding techniques and habits.

“The best thing we do for our new breastfeeding families is educate them, and we also give them resources to use for concerns or questions that arise after they’re discharged,” she said.

When expectant mothers arrive at the hospital, an admissions nurse asks whether they expect to breast feed or bottle feed, Potter said.

“If they say they want to try breastfeeding then we initiate the attempt with them,” she said.

New parents are becoming more aware of the benefits of breastfeeding. This knowledge, as well as accessibility to NHRMC lactation consultants seven days a week, has resulted in 75 percent to 80 percent of all new mothers initiating breastfeeding.

For Renee Schlossnagle, baby Peyton’s mother, initiating breastfeeding was very important, but not without some apprehension.

“I said, ‘Well, I think the baby’s ready, it’s just me … I need help,’ so Kay came in and worked with the pillows, the wrapping and holding, and nature began to take its course,” she said.
Instances like these are but a glimpse of the future, said Carolyn Andrews, RN, manager of the Birthplace at NHRMC.

“We’re planning great things in our new Women’s and Children’s Center,” Andrews said. “We’ll have some outpatient support for lactation, so moms can return to the hospital and work with the consultants.”

For mothers like Schlossnagle, the current services are already serving a crucial purpose.

“It’s been a great experience,” she said. “It’s a real comfort just knowing they’re here.”

For more information on NHRMC’s Lactation Consultant program, please call 343.2430.