WATCH: Breastfeeding Struggles? These Health First Nurses Have Your Back Providing New Moms Free Specialized Service
By Space Coast Daily // August 13, 2023
Program has helped countless moms – and it continues to grow in popularity
WATCH: Health First lactation consultants at Health First are providing a specialized nursing service to new moms at no charge. The service is available at the Birthing Centers at both Holmes Regional Medical Center and Cape Canaveral Hospital. At Health First, it’s a free service provided at both hospitals that’s helped countless moms – and it continues to grow in popularity.
New moms at Health First hospitals find Lactation Consultants’ assistance meaningful, free.
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Cardiac nurse and new mom Lisa Suttles was at a Moms’ Club meeting at Health First’s Cape Canaveral Hospital when she had an epiphany. After watching one of Health First’s lactation consultants lead the meeting, even providing one-on-one help, she approached with a question.
“How do I do this?” Suttles recalled.
Today, Suttles is fulfilling that dream. She’s one of eight lactation consultants at Health First, a specialized nursing service provided to new moms at no charge. The service is available at the Birthing Centers at both Holmes Regional Medical Center and Cape Canaveral Hospital.
August is National Breastfeeding Awareness Month – a perfect time to spotlight this little-known service line. As of 2023, there are close to 36,000 International Board-Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) in 131 countries.
The certification requires nurses to complete rigorous requirements, including meeting clinical experience thresholds and sitting for a board examination. It asks them to continue their education and keep their lactation knowledge current.
At Health First, it’s a free service provided at both hospitals that’s helped countless moms – and it continues to grow in popularity.
These nurses say they’re not here to push an agenda. They’re here to help new moms meet their feeding goals – whether it’s exclusive breastfeeding and supplementation.
And if the mom doesn’t want to nurse, they understand that, too. Each person’s situation and choice is different.
“I’m not there with my own goal,” said Stephanie Dalpra, an IBCLC nurse based at Holmes Regional. “I’m not there to promote things that are not in her head.”
Dalpra knows. Having been through it herself, she always chats with the new mom first.
“I ask, ‘What is your goal? How can I help you with that goal?’ ” Dalpra said. “If their goal is to breastfeed, I’m there to educate her about what that looks like and what that means and help her achieve that.”
A Continuum of Help
Typically, lactation consultants, who are RNs, check in with Mom and Baby within the first hour after birth – after some skin-to-skin time, an important part of the bonding experience. They come bearing educational material, as well as being there to address real-time challenges, such as latching on and soreness.
“Especially with my first-time moms, I say, ‘Please call me for the feeding first, so we can go over it together,’” Dalpra says. “I think it’s important with positioning. Little position changes can make a huge impact in how the baby’s eating, and how the mom feels.”
The team works proactively, educating expectant moms and families to let them know they’re here to help – whether it’s with techniques, support, or renting a hospital-grade pump to assist them with their goals. And helpful tips to set them up for success.
“Prenatal education is huge,” Dalpra said. “A lot of moms come in without any idea of how small their baby’s tummy is and how little they really need in the first few days.”
Suttles echoed her sentiment. A crash course in breastfeeding right after childbirth isn’t ideal.
“When you’re tired and hormonal, it’s not the best time to try and absorb information,” she said.
The support services can continue through the Moms’ Club, a breastfeeding support group held at Cape Canaveral Hospital. (One’s in the works for Holmes Regional, too.) It’s a great chance to connect with the consultants, as well as other new moms.
And it’s a place where these RNs see their work carry on, successfully.
“I love going to the Moms’ Club,” Suttles said. “We have moms that bring their babies up to 18 months old. To see them grow over that course, and to see where they started to where they are now, is just incredibly rewarding.
Lactation consultants also help navigate nursing complications such as mastitis, thrush, low milk supply and other common challenges. Plus, they assist moms looking to wean their babies – whether it’s by choice or due to a health complication.
‘Comforting and Helpful’
Breastfeeding was part of the plan for Kayla Dietz, 23, of Merritt Island, from the day she learned she was expecting.
She just wasn’t confident it would happen.
“There has been a lack of success with breastfeeding in my family, so I wasn’t expecting it to work for me,” admitted Dietz, who welcomed baby Griffin “Gigi” Marcella on April 12 at Cape Canaveral Hospital.
But 30 minutes out of the womb, Gigi knew what to do. And when the lactation consultant popped in for her initial visit, Dietz was feeding Gigi, using her nursing pillow.
“I was using both arms to feed her, so she showed me how to use my Boppy pillow,” Dietz said. “I totally would’ve never used (it) if she didn’t show me the proper way.”
The lactation consultant set up a two-week follow-up appointment, allowing Dietz and Gigi to do a nursing pulse check on their progress.
“I was very pleased to know that her services were still available to me, even after leaving the hospital,” Dietz said.
Her consultant provided advice and methods for Dietz’s nursing journey to continue when she heads back to work this month, four months after Gigi’s birth.
“I wouldn’t have even thought about stocking up on breast milk in preparation for going back to work if it wasn’t for her,” Dietz said. “Breastfeeding can be a daunting process, but the lactation consultant, along with all of the nurses at Cape Canaveral Hospital, are very comforting and helpful.”
‘Like a Personal Trainer’
They sure were for Dallas Telle, too.
“Lactation consultants are so vital to the breastfeeding process,” Telle said. “Someone who knows what to look for and how to help is essential, like a personal trainer or a physical therapist. I learned so much from them, and they were so helpful every step of the way.”
Telle, 27, who lives on Patrick Space Force Base grounds, delivered Elanor on March 2, 2022, at Cape Canaveral Hospital. She knew she wanted to nurse from the start.
“I showed up for my C-section, and Louise (Silver) introduced herself to me and was so amazing and kind,” Telle said of her lactation consultant. “We talked about my expectations, and she told me she was going to be with me through all of it.”
And she was. Silver caught issues off the bat – Elanor had a tongue tie, and Dallas needed a nipple shield to nurse effectively. Silver worked with Telle to navigate those successfully.
“Without Louise there that day, I don’t think I would’ve continued the breastfeeding journey I’m on,” Telle said. “I am so proud of where me and my daughter are at and the path we took to get here, but also so grateful to all of them and everything they did for us.”
One thing really stood out to Telle.
“How much they actually cared,” she said. “Even to this day, 16 months later, Lisa still thought of me for this interview. They followed up constantly and always asked how things were going. Not just with nursing but everything.”
‘A Very Emotional Experience’
Health First’s Chief Nursing Officer, Cheyana Fischer, agrees. She’s a mom of three – and a former patient, too.
“While breastfeeding a new baby seems like an intuitive process, it isn’t always,” Fischer said. “I struggled to breastfeed my first two babies.”
After having her third baby, she turned to a lactation consultant for help – and was able to feed her little girl successfully.
“It was a very emotional experience, even for a third-time mom,” Fischer said. “We know that a lot of new moms struggle to learn this art. Being able to provide them personalized care for nursing support is just one of the many wellness services we’re proud to provide. It’s part of our continuum of care – and doesn’t stop after Mom and Baby leave the hospital. We are happy to continue to work with our new moms until they’re confident they’ve gotten the hang of it.”
Both moms and consultants can agree – the experience definitely builds a bond they never anticipated.
“That’s the part I love,” Dalpra said. “Just being able to be there, and get their baby to feed, and set their baby up for the best nutrition possible, whatever that looks like.”
■ Fast Facts: Learn more about Health First’s Lactation Consultant services. Click here for our website and here for our “Tips for our Breastfeeding Moms” booklet, chock full of helpful advice.
■ Join the Moms Club: New and expectant moms are welcome to join our supportive community. Visit one of our Moms’ Club meetings:
What: Moms’ Club, a supportive community of new and expectant moms
When: Every Friday, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (except for observed holidays)
Where: Cape Canaveral Hospital Medical Plaza, Conference Room A, 701 W. Cocoa Beach Causeway, Cocoa Beach, 32931
Contact info: Call 321.868.2701
■ Yum! We want you to feel your best and reach your nursing goals. Check out our lactation cookie recipe, which can help boost and/or maintain milk supply. Click here.