As a mom herself, Natalie Orange knows just how tough it can be to breastfeed.
“I have three kids and three different breastfeeding journeys,” Natalie, RN, a board-certified lactation consultant at Mercy Health – Lourdes Hospital shares. “Most everyone says breastfeeding is natural. Yes, it is a natural, God-given, amazing ability but natural implies easy. It’s definitely not easy. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done! That’s why I want to help other moms and share my story, both the hard times and the good times. Breastfeeding is most definitely hard but achievable, especially with education, encouragement and support.”
The first step is ensuring moms know the benefits of breastfeeding for their babies and themselves.
“Colostrum, the first milk babies get right after birth, is packed full of protein and lots of antibodies which fight infection,” Natalie explains. “This is especially important given what we’ve been through in the past few years. God made us so perfectly that when a baby latches and nurses at the breast, their saliva enters their mother’s body through the Montgomery glands. That saliva can change the composition of mother’s milk to help fight any infection baby has been exposed to.”
She continues, “the benefits of breast milk are ongoing throughout the baby’s life and include helping with gut health and brain development, as well as decreasing the risk for developing allergies, obesity, diabetes and ultimately hospitalizations. As for mom, breastfeeding helps her uterus to shrink more quickly while also helping mom establish an emotional bond with her baby, thanks to the hormones breastfeeding releases. Breastfeeding also lowers mothers’ risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer.”
Natalie primarily works the day shift. During a typical day, she sees most of the moms and babies who come in for outpatient baby weight check visits. These visits confirm baby is on the right track, healthy and growing well.
During these visits, Natalie conducts pre- and post-feeding weight checks during these visits to be sure babies are getting what they need from mom. This brings comfort and assurance to moms who may worry that they are not providing adequate nutrition for their baby.
Her goal each day is to see the outpatient moms and babies as well as ensure all inpatient moms get a visit, too. In addition to teaching all moms about the benefits of breastfeeding, Natalie and the lactation team make sure each mom knows how to achieve the optimal position for breastfeeding, so latching is easy and breastfeeding is successful.
It takes a team to meet these goals. Lori Moore, RN, IBCLC and Lauren Thompson, RN, CLC work the night shift at Lourdes Hospital to ensure lactation support is available overnight. Thanks to a busy practice of obstetricians and midwives, the hospital’s birthing center is busy and the lactation team has educated all the nursing staff on how to help moms with their breastfeeding needs as well as get the individual support, care and plan that is best for them.
“Breastfeeding can be difficult for some women for many different reasons, and it doesn’t always go as planned,” Natalie explains. “For this reason, we show each mother complete support and love. We all believe fed is best and help mothers ‘protect’ their milk supply via pumping and working on latching later, if that’s the course that makes sense, or by showing mothers how to feed their baby formula via bottle. We listen to our moms, hug and encourage them and do what is best for their family. That’s why I’m honored to work at Lourdes Hospital.”
Natalie has worked with babies at Lourdes Hospital for 21 years. Despite her extensive experience, she says there’s always something new to learn. Getting her IBCLC certification was one significant step she took, and she recently earned a new certification in TOTS – Tethered Oral Tissues. Tethered oral tissues can limit a baby’s ability to move their lips, tongues or cheeks, impacting their ability to breastfeed effectively.
“If their mouths are not functioning properly, babies can’t remove milk from the breast properly which can possibly lead to a downward spiral of events,” Natalie says. “I’m learning how to recognize those issues so I can better advocate for moms, their babies and their breastfeeding experience.”
Our lactation team at Lourdes Hospital provides many services, including prenatal lactation services, which are new and give pregnant mothers the chance to get answers to any lactation questions.
“I believe the more mothers are exposed to breastfeeding education, the more successful they will be,” Natalie shares.
The hospital also offers childbirth and breastfeeding classes, taught by Lori and Lauren, and the team is also working on launching community as well as social media support groups.
“We all need the ongoing support and can learn from each other’s experiences,” Natalie notes.
And overall, she finds her job to be extremely rewarding.
“I get to come to work and play a small role in getting mothers on the right track with breastfeeding. I love seeing the joy and bond between a mother and baby. It’s very rewarding seeing a mom succeed in feeding her baby and hear success stories six months into their journey.”
The lactation team at Lourdes Hospital works with the providers, nursing staff and management at the hospital to give patients the best mother-baby experience possible.