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Hospital's lactation program wins high marks

Kathryn Olson credits Columbia Memorial Hospital's Lactation Program with the positive outcome she achieved in breastfeeding her daughter. (Columbia Memorial Hospital)
Friday, August 10, 2018

Local moms Krista Hicks, Jessica Barrett and Kathryn Olson agree: They might have given up on breastfeeding if they hadn’t gotten help.

While breastfeeding may seem like a natural function, the three first-time moms all had problems come up after giving birth at Columbia Memorial Hospital.

With the help of the hospital’s Lactation Program and Family Birthing Center staff, each woman had success.

The lactation program recently received the International Board Certified Lactation Consultant Care Award for the fourth two-year term.

The award honors hospitals, birthing facilities, birthing services and community-based health agencies with dedicated lactation support programs. The CMH Family Birthing Center provides breastfeeding training for medical staff who care for new families.

**When the baby is early

Olson’s daughter was born six weeks early and lacked the muscle tone to draw enough milk. Being so small, she also had trouble staying awake to nurse.

“Within 24 hours of her birth, Laura and Kelsey were there to support me,” Olson said of lactation consultants Laura Brown and Kelsey Betts. “In the months following her birth, we saw them at least once a week, and we worked with my baby to help her learn to nurse more efficiently. They gave me a sense of stability and hope during a very difficult time.”

The lactation consultants discovered Olson’s daughter had a lip and tongue tie, when the movement of the lips and tongue are restricted and mobility is impaired.

“Getting that corrected was a real turning point in helping her nurse better and managing her colic,” Olson said. “I didn’t even know what tongue tie was. I am so grateful that they discovered it early, as it could have caused a whole host of problems later.”

Olson’s daughter is now 6 months old. While Olson pumps most of her milk because she’s back at work, she nurses “10 times better,” Olson said.

** Managing stress

Barrett’s daughter had similar problems. From weight check appointments and help with pumping to the development of a nursing routine, the lactation program gave her the advice and support she needed.

“My second (baby) was much easier to nurse from the get-go, and I think we could have struggled through it,” Barrett said, “but with the support of the Lactation Department, it was a much easier journey.”

With the stress of being a new mom, the hospital’s “clean, warm and quiet” lactation room offered a sense of relaxation.

Hicks echoed Barrett’s thoughts. She gave birth on a Saturday when neither lactation consultant was at the hospital. The baby developed jaundice and needed to stay an extra day – a blessing in disguise, Hicks said, as it allowed them to meet with a lactation consultant on Monday.

The routine was time consuming, and “at times, a downright pain in the butt,” she said. It was worth it, though, because her daughter quickly regained a lost pound and had more success nursing.

After three or four appointments, Hicks “graduated” from the Lactation Program – but with engorgement issues, yeast infections and mastitis plaguing her, Brown still was available for assistance.

“For every issue, Laura was there for me, even without an appointment,” Hicks said. “She would call me and talk me through what I needed to do to remedy whatever ailment I had at the time. Day or night, she was there to help.”

To learn more about the CMH Lactation Program, visit

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