Gundersen Health System sponsored a Milk Mob Outpatient Breastfeeding Champion (OBC) training at their medical center in La Crosse, WI in 2015, adding evidence-based breastfeeding information and support resources to their already-existing inpatient and outpatient lactation services.
The Milk Mob interviewed Stephanie Ryan, RN BSN IBCLC, who is an inpatient and outpatient lactation consultant at Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center, an instructor for the Milk Mob, and a member of the Milk Mob board of directors. Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center has a Baby Friendly Hospital Designation. Stephanie’s vision as a Milk Mob instructor has been to educate clinical staff at Gundersen’s regional clinics, in order to increase breastfeeding support within populations who live a far distance from the Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center. Stephanie explains, “We need to delegate better. Not everybody needs a board certified lactation consultant, just good breastfeeding support. The Milk Mob could help us with that by training Outpatient Breastfeeding Champions in the smaller offices where we don’t have breastfeeding specialists.”
Five nurses at the medical center attended the OBC training. And after attending, the nurses wanted more! “We just don’t have enough people trained to see the full potential of what the Milk Mob training could do for us. Even physicians have said that they’d like to attend!”
Stephanie shared that the Milk Mob training and materials were very well received at the medical center: “It gave them (the clinic nurses) some practical, evidence-based tools to use that are right at their fingertips.” The nurses are now using the Triage Tools, Breastfeeding Education Handouts, and the Milk Mob curriculum booklet. Office Breastfeeding Champions have told Stephanie, “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used that book!”, and they have particularly appreciated that the materials use easy-to-understand terms and contain useful references and resources. They’ve made copies of the handouts and use them as needed for in-person visits—particularly the handout describing tips to help a baby take a bottle.
Stephanie explains her vision of the Breastfeeding Champion program’s potential impact, “I think this program has potential to really help in areas where there is not a lot of breastfeeding support. The listserv and the community that the Milk Mob provides is huge! There are high quality materials to offer to patients and co-workers. I encourage Office Breastfeeding Champions to take advantage of these resources!”
As a Milk Mob trainer, Stephanie has a unique perspective on how the Breastfeeding Champion training is received and how it may influence the way breastfeeding support is offered. In 2015-16 The Milk Mob conducted 5 Outpatient Breastfeeding Champion trainings for Wisconsin WIC and Stephanie was an instructor at 4 of them. She found that the Wisconsin WIC staff were excited to attend the training and faced a different set of challenges than the nurses at her clinic. “We talked a lot about scope of practice. The WIC staff were taking a lot of notes about how to handle certain breastfeeding situations, but at the same time concerned that these things were outside their scope of practice. It was a good opportunity to explain that being aware of these clinical tips, even if outside of their scope of practice, was helpful so they would know what a mom may encounter when receiving breastfeeding help at her primary care clinic, but not necessarily what the Peer Counselor was going to do.”
Stephanie also explained that she appreciates the reaffirmation that no matter where we live, there are some common challenges faced by breastfeeding moms. When training Breastfeeding Champions in Oregon she observed the same challenges she sees at home in Wisconsin. “Even in the crunchy, earthy state they struggle with back-to-work and maintaining supply like everyone else does. The challenges we face are the same and we all fight the same battle! That feels refreshing to know.”