What has been one of your most memorable experiences as an IBCLC?
Judy: One of my most memorable experiences as an IBCLC was providing Lactation support in Addis Ababa while working as a volunteer with SIM Ethiopia.
A poor Ethiopian mother with high blood pressure, an under-grown baby and a third world setting spells perhaps, a poor outcome and maybe even death for someone in this family.
This was not this mother’s first high risk pregnancy as she’d had twins 8 years previously down south in Ethiopia (one twin weighed .8 kilos and the other 1 kilo) and successfully breastfed them both without supplements. However, the new baby, without need for breathing help, was being kept in the NICU at a big referral public hospital in Addis Ababa and separated from the mother until there was a space in the kangaroo care ward. So the family decided that it was time for them to come home with some support.
They came home when the baby was 1.4 kilos and the mother was able to self-express breast milk into the baby’s mouth when the baby tired of breastfeeding. She fed the baby every 2 hours day and night and practiced kangaroo care in their very poor, modest but clean home with 3 other children. We weighed the baby weekly on my dining room table and both baby and mother thrived (all free of supplemental formula.)
I have worked with SIM Ethiopia (an evangelical mission group that’s been here for almost 100 years) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for 6 years. I have had a number of positions here including helping manage an obstetrical unit at a Korean Mission Hospital and helped open a neonatal intensive care unit there that focused on kangaroo care. I also worked for 2 1/2 years as lactation and feeding specialist with Cure Ethiopian Children’s Hospital with cleft lip and palate babies managing the nutrition and feeding issues of over 200 babies through their palate surgeries; all of these families were required to use breast milk as medicine. Now I’m doing private lactation support and back to work issues for Ethiopian and expatriate women living in this country. It’s a privilege to be here.
Judy Norman, RN, MN, MPH, IBCLC, SIM Ethiopia