By Christine Staricka
How do new ideas spread in the lactation community? How often are there really any NEW ideas? How big does an idea have to be to make a real difference? These are questions I am asking myself as I write and create a new lactation education toolkit based on my middle-of-the-night revelation that we need a better way to motivate and empower mothers.
The idea sprang from working through two very routine cases with patients in the hospital…not an unusual situation but I was frustrated that I couldn’t find the words to teach these mothers effectively. This led to lengthy conversations with my lactation colleagues, then some sleepless nights and, finally, a light bulb moment.
But this is about what happens AFTER the light bulb moment, after you start frantically typing and rifling through piles of research articles and textbooks, the days where you move through all you other activities, waiting for the free moment when you will have time to express your blossoming ideas and capture them, and the glazed-over look of your family member who have long since tired of hearing about your new breastfeeding project.
What does one do with a new idea? My first obstacle was deciding on a format to express the idea. In this case, an article seemed as if it would not do justice to the concept, so a blog post or an entry to a journal seemed like the wrong place to start. The concept lends itself well to a toolkit and a toolkit with a broad audience requires excellent and accurate reference. Proper credit must be given to those whose ideas came before and which form the basis of the founding principles of the new concept. Research articles much be located and cited. Well-accepted textbooks must be consulted and cited. Online searches for similar concepts must be performed diligently. As the research and writing proceed, new thoughts on the direction of this concept are constantly forming and being reshaped.
Considering the direction of the project has revealed several things to me: the lactation community is global, diverse, and highly intelligent. Providing lactation support is an endeavor which requires not only the accumulation of knowledge, but the critical thinking skills and resourcefulness to make judgement calls and navigate tricky situations, both with parents and in healthcare settings. It takes a very unique set of skills to be an effective lactation support provider. Lactation care providers also must be effective educators, sensitive and valuable counselors, and excellent communicators.
The lactation community has learned to embrace all new methods of communication. LactNet has existed as a way of connecting far-flung individuals involved in lactation support for most of the time the internet has been widely available. All of the newer methods of communication have been rapidly assimilated into the culture of our community. This blog is an excellent example of a modern and efficient tool for mass communication used to all of its advantage by our professional organization.
So, with the ease of communication which has been established by the lactation community, the only issue remaining for someone with a new idea is to reflect on how new the idea really is and how to measure its effectiveness. Just as the writer of an essay considers and reconsiders the thesis statement many times during the writing, this idea must be truly probed for its originality. If it is not unique enough, its scope of influence will be small.
But that thought has brought me back to the basic principle of lactation support: if an idea or a tool helps even one mother and baby experience breastfeeding, it is successful. If a lactation care providers helps one mother and baby breastfeed better even one time, the provider has completed his or her objective. If an idea, a tool, or a provider can influence even one mother and her baby, it is meaningful for this world.
Christine Staricka is a hospital-based IBCLC. She became a Certified Lactation Educator through UCSD while facilitating local breastfeeding support groups. She studied independently while accumulating supervised clinical hours and passed the exam in 2009 to become an IBCLC. She holds a BS in Business Management from University of Phoenix. Christine is the co-owner of Bakersfield Breastfeeds, which provides lactation education to professionals and expectant parents. She has contributed to USLCA’s eNews as well as this blog. She enjoys tweeting breastfeeding information as @IBCLCinCA and maintains a blog by the same name. She is a wife and mother of 3 lovely and intelligent daughters and aunt to 4 nephews and 2 nieces, all of who have been or are still breastfeeding. She is partial to alternative rock and grunge music, especially Pearl Jam, and attends as many concerts as financially able with her husband of 18 years.