As a first-time mother, Julie Johnson loves the special bonding she experiences when breastfeeding her son, Sevy, who was born at Mercy Hospital Ada in December.
Prior to her son’s birth, Johnson knew she wanted to breastfeed, but was unsure if she would be successful since her mother was unable to breastfeed due to an inefficient milk supply. With the help of nurses and breastfeeding specialist, Allison Poe, she made her hopes a reality.
“Breastfeeding has been such a thrill,” said Johnson, 26, of Konawa, Oklahoma. “I wasn’t sure how well he would take to it, but Allison really helped me out. She’s as good as gold and you can really tell she loves what she does.”
Do What You Love
Poe, a registered nurse and certified breastfeeding specialist at Mercy Hospital Ada, had been thinking about pursuing more education related to lactation services, but her interest level peaked after she had her daughter last year. She started taking classes and recently took her exam to become a board-certified lactation consultant.
“I really like the benefits of breastfeeding for mom and baby and I am happy to see it is starting to become the social norm again,” said Poe. “I don’t think there’s enough knowledge out there about how good it is and I really like to educate people, so I decided to become a lactation consultant.”
Once Poe finds out if she passed her national exam in the coming weeks, she will serve as the main lactation consultant at Mercy Hospital Ada. Most of the nurses in the Mercy Birthplace in Ada have taken courses to become breastfeeding advisers to help patients, like Johnson.
As a lactation consultant, Poe will continue to work with new moms to prevent, recognize and solve breastfeeding problems and offer education on how beneficial breastfeeding is for both mom and baby. She said it is important to have a lot of support at home while adjusting to breastfeeding and tries to involve family members in the education she provides to moms.
Natural Way to Good Health
A mother's milk is like no other food since it provides the baby with abundant nutritional support, antioxidants, enzymes, immune properties and live antibodies. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health, babies who are breastfed typically have a stronger immune system and resistance to infection and have lower risks of:
For mothers, there are also several health benefits of breastfeeding, including a lower risk of developing ovarian cancer, certain types of breast cancer and type 2 diabetes.
It Takes a Village
In the months since leaving the hospital with her son, Johnson has contacted Poe several times for advice when she worried about whether she was producing enough milk for her little one and how to alleviate the painful blockages in her milk ducts. She feels fortunate to know there is someone at Mercy to turn to when she has questions or concerns.
Johnson also feels lucky her son has adapted well to breastfeeding so far and hopes her luck continues in the months ahead.
“He took it like a champ and I’m very fortunate for that,” she said.
But not all new moms are that lucky.
Poe tells moms-to-be and new moms that breastfeeding is hard and takes patience — especially in those early days — but to not give up.
“It’s something you have to commit to and be dedicated to because it’s so beneficial,” she said. “I tell them it’s okay to cry if they are frustrated. I do this for a living and I cried at some point every day for the first week with my daughter because breastfeeding is hard, but we’re still going strong.”
Poe’s goal is to serve as a resource so all moms can exclusively breastfeed by the time they leave the hospital if it is possible and is what the mom wants to do. She said she loves hearing stories of how successful they are in their breastfeeding endeavors.
“I love the fact that I can go into somebody’s room who thinks they want to breastfeed and they don’t know anything about it but they want to try and, by the end of my shift, they are so thankful for the help,” said Poe. “I feel fulfilled knowing that the baby is happy and they’re happy and the baby is getting the best nutrients that they can possibly get.”
To learn more about mother-baby services at Mercy Hospital Ada, visit www.mercy.net/AdaMoms or call 580-332-2323.