I first met Rose deVigne-Jackiewicz in 2008, when I began my supervised clinical hours (through UCSD’s Lactation Consultant Program) at her outpatient lactation clinic at Kaiser Permanente in San Diego, CA. Within minutes I knew that this woman was special! Her kindness and support she offered me, as well as the plethora of ‘soon-to-be lactation consultants’ that spent time in her clinic, was unmatched. Within months she transitioned me from a passive spectator to an active participant in helping mothers learn to breastfeed their babies. I will forever be grateful for the education and clinical style that I learned, and continue to learn, from Rose.
How did you decide to become a lactation consultant?
When I was working in Labor and Delivery, I learned about the lactation consultant training program at UCLA. My supervisor asked if I would like to take the program (she was offering to pay for the program). I had one baby and breastfed very successfully, but realized how much I really didn’t know. I would help new mothers start breastfeeding after delivery, but thought there was nothing to it, just put the baby to breast and they would nurse.
So I trained at the UCLA program in 1984. I was pregnant with my 2nd baby at the time. When I finished the program, I admit, I felt a little cocky: I am now a lactation consultant (thought I know everything), had already breastfed a baby, and was ready to breastfed my 2nd baby when she was born. What could go wrong?!
The first mother I worked with after my training was a young 19 year old who was having problems getting her baby to latch. I worked with her for 3 hours that day. Went home, patting myself on the back, thinking, wow, I did a great job working with that mother. When I came back to work the next day, I found out in report, the mother decided to switch to bottle feeding. I admit, my first thought was, “How could she, after everything I did for her yesterday”. Well, that mother taught me a very valuable lesson…first, 3 hours is WAY too long to work with mother and baby at a single time, second, TALK to the mother, find out how she is feeling about the feedings, and what does SHE want to do. I had just charged in and followed my own agenda. Wish I could go back and apologize to that mother!!!
Can you describe a typical day in your outpatient clinic?
A typical day in my outpatient clinic, hmmmm. Well, first of all, it is usually fully booked!
I start the day by reviewing the schedule and gathering the information about mothers and babies coming in that day. The babies range from a few days old to years old, depending on the issues. The majority of the babies are newborn to 6 weeks old. I receive calls from other pediatrician’s, obstetrician, and primary care offices with mothers and/or babies that need to be seen. So in spite of the schedule being full, I often will add on throughout the day. I will often need to contact the pediatrician or obstetrician due to special issues going on with mother or baby (such as excessive weight loss, jaundice, mastitis, etc). Throughout the clinic day, there are frequent knocks on the door, mothers wanting to ask a question, walk in – wanting to be seen, and also mothers just wanting to show me their baby or grown child and saying ‘Thank You’ for helping them be successful at nursing their babies. I have learned to multi-task throughout the day, seeing 1-3 mothers and babies at one time, answering the phone, answering the door, etc.
What is your favorite aspect of your job?
Having a new mother come in to the clinic in tears, wondering what she is “doing wrong”, and having her walk out all smiles. The saying on my cup says, The Greatest Joy is Nursing One’s Own Infant, The Second Greatest is Helping Another Woman to Nurse Hers.
I have the best job. Not only do I help mothers learn to feed their baby, but I help them become a better mother and we end up with a happy, healthy mother and baby!
Being a resource for other nurses and physicians is another very rewarding aspect of my job. I get many calls per day from other health professional asking for information related to “their” patients.
You are a mentor many soon-to-be LCs. How has this enriched your practice?
Oh, my goodness, I love working with and mentoring soon-to-be LCs. When I finished my training at UCLA, I got my clinical training, “on the job”. I look back to those early days and wished I had someone beside me, guiding me. Being able to help educate someone else to do what I do is really an honor. But, it also helps me in the clinic, having an extra set of hands in the clinic help me help MORE mothers and babies.
Do you have any advice for other lactation consultants who plan to mentor a new LC?
Don’t look at it as “something else you have to do”. You are seeing the mothers and babies anyway. It really does not take that much more time (overall). Once your ‘lactation-consultant-in-training’ is “oriented”, you will find you can get MORE done and see more mothers and babies. Remember when you were new in the field….. give back! You will really enjoy it. Also, I want to be able to pass on that passion to those following in my footsteps. I will not be here forever…. I want those taking over for me to have the same experience, knowledge and passion as I do. Call me if you need help!!
Rose deVigne-Jackiewicz, RN, MPH, IBCLC, has been a lactation consultant since 1984. In 2000, she started one of the largest outpatient lactation clinics at Kaiser Permanente in San Diego, CA. Rose has mentored several hundred soon-to-be lactation consultants through the UCSD Lactation Consultant Program. She also has given many lectures around the country, including ILCA in 2011.
Robin Kaplan, M.Ed., IBCLC, Co-Editor of Lactation Matters, Owner of San Diego Breastfeeding Center