Tag Archives | Amber McCann

Clinicians in the Trenches: Karen Rechnitzer RN, IBCLC

Written by: Amber McCann, IBCLC, Owner of Nourish Breastfeeding Support

I am thrilled to share this profile of Karen Rechnitzer, an IBCLC who works at a Washington, DC area hospital.  While my work as a private practice practitioner affords me the opportunity to support moms and babies in the weeks and months following their return home from the hospital or birthing center, I believe that the care breastfeeding mothers receive in their first days is critical.  I imagine that hospital work is incredibly challenging as well as rewarding and am glad, along with Lactation Matters, to welcome Karen to share her experience and wisdom with us.

I have been a Registered Nurse for 38 years with a background in Medical-Surgical, Labor and Delivery, Home Health and as a Lactation Consultant.  I worked in Labor and Delivery as an assistant head nurse when my first daughter was born. After my maternity leave, I was hoping to find a part time job. I applied for a job in the National Capital Lactation Center & Milk Bank at Georgetown University Hospital. Quickly, my job responsibilities expanded to include in-patient breastfeeding counseling.

I became an IBCLC in 1985 and have continued to work with breastfeeding mothers and health care professionals in a variety of roles ever since, primarily in the hospital setting, but also with outpatient consults, private practice, home health and most recently, with an on-line employee education and support program.

I typically work 3-4 days a week as a Lactation Consultant at an in-hospital Breastfeeding
Center. My responsibilities include answering phone messages from former patients and the general community regarding breastfeeding, scheduling and performing out-patient consultations, meeting with each post-partum RN to receive reports on breastfeeding patients, visiting mothers and their babies to assist with breastfeeding support and
education, teaching breastfeeding classes, visiting and assisting mothers in Pediatrics, NICU, ICU, ER and other units with breastfeeding, participating in monthly Breastfeeding Committee meetings, and giving ongoing hospital staff education.

One of my greatest challenges as a hospital based IBCLC is the short stay for mothers after birth. When I first started as an IBCLC, patient stays were longer. Mothers had many more opportunities to breastfeed with support and assistance prior to home discharge. The longer stay provided opportunities to work out breastfeeding problems. The plan of care could be modified daily and gradually evolve into a discharge plan.  Increasing a mother’s success with latching and breastfeeding prior to discharge was often seen as a real confidence builder. Now many mothers are in hospital for only 2-3 days which translates into few opportunities for breastfeeding support. Patient education should be concise and tailored to the needs of each patient taking into account learning styles and readiness to learn. With shorter stays, it has to come together more quickly and that’s often challenging.

I have a unique opportunity to teach and support families to breastfeed by meeting and working with new families from many different cultures and backgrounds. Each room visit provides me with a new situation that encompasses a specific blend of personal and medical history that will shape that encounter. Many of the experiences are “routine” and many are challenging.

I also have the opportunity to work with other IBCLCs each day which allows for
discussion and creative problem solving. I am fortunate to work on a daily basis with other health care professionals as a team to provide each patient and their family with the best possible care.

I would encourage all IBCLCs to embrace education in order to broaden their knowledge in regards to women’s health. Understanding each woman’s health history is crucial to providing excellent lactation support.  The patient’s past medical and social history as well as their previous and present pregnancy, delivery, postpartum and breastfeeding experiences will inform and possibly determine their present breastfeeding success.

In the healthcare field, as with most professions, learning is ongoing. Practices and delivery of care are in constant motion. Staying up to date is crucial to your success.

Join national and international organizations such as ILCA. Participate in local organizations and groups that support networking, continuing education, sharing of ideas and mentoring with other Lactation Consultants and health care professionals.

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Clinicians in the Trenches: Diana Jordan, IBCLC

Written by: Amber McCann, IBCLC, Owner of Nourish Breastfeeding Support

Lactation Matters is always looking for innovative and excellent IBCLCs to profile on our blog.  Today, we are profiling Diana Jordan, an IBCLC working with the Breastfeeding Center of Pittsburgh.   She was nominated by her fellow practitioner, Ellen Rubin.  

Ellen says, “I learned that her secrets to great lactation care were not only an exquisite skill in assessing the mother-child pair but also a special ability to communicate with women who were feeling very vulnerable as they dealt with breastfeeding issues.  Mothers leave consults with Diana armed with new breastfeeding knowledge and also feeling valued and empowered.”

We are so honored to share this profile of Diana with you.

I began my career in lactation as a breastfeeding mother to my 2 daughters in the mid 1980’s. The help and support I received from La Leche League prompted me to become a group leader in 1987 and eventually held several area leadership positions for the organization. In 1990, the WIC program was in the beginning stages of developing a breastfeeding program. A friend, already an IBCLC, suggested I apply for one of the “breastfeeding doula” positions. I began working for the WIC Breastfeeding Program in 1991 where I did in-home consulting with mothers and babies under the supervision of an IBCLC. The program gradually took a turn towards hiring lactation consultants instead of peer counselors, so in 1996, I sat for the exam and became an IBCLC. I continued to work for WIC until 2008, when I took a position at The Breastfeeding Center of Pittsburgh.

In my current position, I do in-office consulting.  Mothers schedule a consult and are seen by both an IBCLC and a physician, who is usually an IBCLC. After taking a thorough history, I observe a feeding with mother and baby,  answer questions and address problems with latching, positioning, or any other part of the breastfeeding experience. I present my opinion of and solution for any problems to the physician who then does a physical exam of both mother and baby. I am available for any follow up consults or phone calls as needed by mother.  On an average day I can see as many as 5 mother/baby dyads.  I then chart in an Electronic Medical Records system and letters are sent to both mother’s and infant’s PCP.

The challenges I have working in this setting are the volume of mothers I may see in one day.  It can be difficult to provide each mother with the amount of time she may need to meet not only the physical challenges she may be having but the emotional challenges. I try very hard not to just “fix” the problem but give mother the confidence she may need to successfully meet her goals, but I am limited in the time available to do this.

I feel very lucky to be working with Dr. Nancy Brent, IBCLC, the Medical Director.  She provides the medical view that I haven’t had in my previous positions. She and I are able to work together to provide  mothers with a complete consultation.  Breastfeeding challenges or problems are addressed, prescriptions are written as needed, and tests or cultures are taken if necessary. It is a unique opportunity to meet the patients needs completely.

I would encourage all those working in the field of lactation to take advantage of all the opportunities we have available for continued education and networking. It is easy, in any profession, to get too comfortable in one’s knowledge base. The one thing I have found in my 16 yrs as an IBCLC is that there is always something to learn. Every mother and every baby have their own individual needs, problems, and solutions. With each consult comes an opportunity to learn and grow as a Lactation Consultant. I look forward to each lactation consult as I would a puzzle. You have to work with the pieces given to you and become a team player with mom, baby, and family to put the puzzle together.

I feel so fortunate to have traveled this road of  an IBCLC. I never thought, when I struggled with nursing my first born, that my journey in life would lead me here. I am thankful to LLL for the support and help that was given to me with my early challenges, and give them credit for not only my becoming an IBCLC but for the support and respect given to me in my journey of mothering.

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Clinicians in the Trenches – Fleur Bickford

Written by Amber McCann, IBCLC, Owner of Nourish Breastfeeding Support

Fleur Bickford is an IBCLC in private practice who lives in Ottawa in Ontario, Canada with her husband and two children, ages 6 and 8. Lactation Matters is glad to profile Fleur and find out a bit more about how she has used social media to promote her business and connect with breastfeeding mothers.

I have always had a passion for helping others and I always knew that I would work in health care. After completing a Bachelor of Science in Life Sciences, I went on to become a Registered Nurse. It was during my maternity rotation at school that I discovered how much I loved working with new families. I got a job as a graduate nurse on the obstetrical unit of our local hospital and gained experience in labour and delivery, post partum care and pediatrics. After becoming a mother myself, and experiencing breastfeeding challenges with our second child, I discovered both La Leche League and a passion for helping other families with breastfeeding. I became a La Leche League Leader in 2007 and in 2009, I wrote and passed the exam to become an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC).

I chose to start my own private practice as an IBCLC after passing the exam as it gives me the flexibility to work around my children’s schedules. I see clients mainly in their own homes although in urgent situations, they sometimes come to me. In between consults, I can usually be found answering e-mails, making follow up calls, writing articles for both my own blog and the Best for Babes blog (ed. note: Read Fleur’s fantastic post “The Latest on Latching” with Best for Babes), and updating my Twitter and Facebook profiles. We are very lucky in Ottawa to have a large and very active group of IBCLCs and I enjoy volunteering some of my time as president of Ottawa Valley Lactation Consultants.

When I started my business, it seemed natural to use the Internet as a means to market it. After our first child was born, I frequently turned to online forums for information and support. I started to realize then how powerful the internet and social media could be. No matter what time it was, there was always someone online to chat with when I had questions and concerns.

Recent stats show that 95% of adults age 18-33 are online, with 80-89% of them using social networking sites. I created business profiles on both Twitter and Facebook, and I also started a blog. My goal was to use the blog as a means to market myself by providing up-to-date information about breastfeeding, and Twitter and Facebook seemed like good ways to promote my blog. As I started using Facebook and Twitter, I quickly discovered that along with the ability to market my business, there are many other benefits to social media. I have found that Twitter in particular is a wonderful medium for networking with others in the lactation community. I have made wonderful connections that I likely wouldn’t have made otherwise. I started a weekly chat on Twitter for breastfeeding professionals and volunteers using the hashtag #LCchat, and every Wednesday we share information, inspire and motivate one another, and connect with others around the world who are also working to support breastfeeding mothers.

Along with the marketing and networking, social media is a powerful way to reach both parents and other health care providers with accurate information, and to promote both breastfeeding and our profession. I also learn a great deal from the interactions I have with parents online. I am able to keep in touch with what parents are experiencing and worried about, and the interactions I have with parents allow me to refine my approaches to teaching and promotion so that I am better able to empower families to reach their breastfeeding goals.

You can see for yourself how Fleur is using social media on Facebook, Twitter and on her blog, Nurtured Child.

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The Trend Towards Becoming a “Breastfeeding Friendly” University

Written by: Amber McCann, IBCLC, Owner of Nourish Breastfeeding Support

For many of us here in the United States, autumn is about a cool crispness in the air, pumpkin muffins and FOOTBALL! And by football, I mean crazy fans – yell at the TV – wear your jerseys kind of football. I know that in many other parts of the world you understand this fervor, rather in support of another kind of football (i.e., soccer!)
Where I grew up in Ohio, there was one team and one team only. THE Ohio State Buckeyes. The affection and community support runs deep…very, very deep. To cheer for our chief rival, Michigan, could get you booed right out of town. At several hospitals in the area, babies are given Ohio State onsies (infant-size shirts that snap over a diaper) at birth…the indoctrination into the fandom begins early!


So, when I recently saw a press release that said that my beloved Ohio State had won an award for becoming a “breastfeeding friendly” place, my inner Buckeye jumped up and down. They have established rooms in which breastfeeding mothers can feed their children or pump all over campus with “a mini-fridge for storage, a hospital-grade breast pump, a comfortable chair with reading materials and low-light settings for a calm, quiet experience.”

I quickly tweeted my excitement over this development and was met with some healthy “trash talking” from my colleague, Liz Brooks. Liz quickly mentioned that her daughter’s school, Indiana University, a fellow school in Ohio State’s Big 10 Athletic Conference, also had lactation rooms, provided by the Office of Women’s Affairs. With both of our schools in the WIN column, Liz was quick to find out that all 12 of the schools in the conference (a group of universities that all compete together), have established lactation programs!

*The fact that there are 12 teams in conference called the Big 10 is not lost on us! 🙂

Click on the name of the school to find out more about their lactation programs!

University of Illinois

Indiana University

University of Iowa

University of Michigan

Michigan State University

University of Minnesota

University of Nebraska

Northwestern University

Ohio State University

Penn State

Purdue University

University of Wisconsin

What an awesome testament to the importance of Lactation Rooms for mothers! If you have not taken the opportunity to familiarize yourself with The Business Case for Breastfeeding, supported by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, I encourage you to do so. The reports contained within states,
“There is ample evidence that a supportive worksite environment with a private place to express milk and access to a quality breastpump helps women feel more confident in continuing to breastfeed after returning to work (Galtry 1997; Frank 1998) and that lack of accommodations contributes to lower breastfeeding duration (Cobett-Dick & Bezek 1997).”

WAY TO GO to the BIG 10 schools for forging the way for great breastfeeding support in the workplace!

Action Step: Does you alma mater provide lactation rooms and breastfeeding support for their students and employees? If not, as an alumni, communicate with them your desire that they provide this service and link them to The Business Case for Breastfeeding!

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