Earlier this year, I got an email about teaching, what I thought was childbirth education to parents at a hospital. While it sounded interesting, I wasn’t sure that I wanted to sign up to teach a "set-in-stone" curriculum that wouldn’t allow me to add material I know is beneficial to parents. See, there was a time when I almost took a position at a large hospital to teach childbirth education, but it would be under the condition that I could not in any way offer other coping or evidence-based information than what was in the course. Well, let's just say that I knew that teaching in a hospital setting was not for me. Having taught childbirth classes for almost 10 years, I am really familiar with commonly asked questions. I know that sometimes answers are not in a curriculum, they are in peer support and in stories and in experience and in providing ways for the parents to seek their own answers. If I’m limited…how can I be the most service to the parents I teach?
But...I asked to see the curriculum.
When the curriculum arrived in the mail, I was shocked. Surprised. Excited. Honored. It was not a curriculum to teach parents. It was a curriculum based on the World Health Organization and UNICEF, along with the AAP to provide the necessary education for childbirth and maternity staff in meeting the Baby Friendly Initiative. I would be teaching nurses how to support mothers during the first few days of postpartum, as a way to increase their confidence and success rate in breastfeeding their babies.
This. This I was extremely passionate about.
And I would be able to share stories, experiences and additional materials to help the nurses better understand and comprehend the importance of their support role as caregivers and educators during such a delicate period of a mother with her baby.
The first time I taught this course was in a hospital in Los Angeles to nurses that were in a graduate nursing program. The course is a (2) 8-hour day and it’s full of information on:
- secure attachment
- kangaroo care
- why and how Baby Friendly Initiative was developed
- the importance of early communication
- not letting babies cry
- continuously picking up babies when they need touch or care, whether it’s daytime or nighttime
- how to establish milk supply
- trouble-shooting breastfeeding challenges
- finding outside resources for breastfeeding support
- and so much more.
Did you give birth in a hospital?
Anyone that’s given birth in a hospital knows how much influence (negative or positive) the nurse assigned to you can have when it comes to your confidence level, and ability to feel that you fully understand how to breastfeed your baby, the realistic needs (which are more than we anticipate when in pregnancy) of a newborn, and in providing resources outside the hospital for you to contact for help with breastfeeding.
And if so did you get this?
For example, how many of you had a nurse that gently and patiently taught you, with clear knowledge, how to nurse your baby, how often baby will need to feed, mentor the importance of being near your baby at all times, that baby will need your touch and care many many many times a day and night, and that it’s considered normal for your baby to nurse up to 30 times a day? How many of you had a nurse that gave you at least one resource to contact once you’re back home -- and it wasn’t just the hospitals support group, though, also included it. How many of you had a nurse that every time she came to your room, she asked to see your latch to make sure that you know how to do it correctly. And when perhaps, you told her that you thought your baby wasn’t getting enough milk, instead of just saying “yes he is…”, she validated you, empathized with your concerns and then asked you questions as she provided education that taught you how to know that your baby is in fact getting enough milk. She/he explained the process of milk production and went over the ways to assure that your milk supply is properly established in the next few days.
I’ve worked with many, many, many mothers in the last 10+ years. Most would have answered, “Wow, I wish!!” and there’s a few that would say, “Yes!! And it was amazing..” The goal of Baby Friendly Initiative, through these classes, is to get to the point where ALL mothers birthing in hospitals can say, “Yes, of course and it was amazing.”
So, yes when I got this opportunity to be the educator to nurses that will be the first point of bonding and breastfeeding support..I knew it was for me.
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