At Mercy Health – Lourdes Hospital, new moms decide how to feed their newborn, whether by breastfeeding, pumping to use expressed breast milk, formula or a combination. No matter what.
“Our job is to support the mother’s feeding choice,” Natalie Orange, RN, one of our lactation consultants, adds. “We also make sure all babies are on the gain with our follow-up weight checks.”
And as more moms choose to breastfeed, our Lourdes Hospital team is prepared to educate and support them to feel comfortable.
“The more women know about breastfeeding their baby, the more successful they will be,” Natalie insists. “That is why our goal here at Lourdes, to start education early.”
Since doctors and advanced registered nurse practitioners encourage new moms to attend prenatal lactation appointments and breastfeeding classes, Natalie shares that she and her teammates go out of their way making sure mothers have the support they need.
She adds, “if women take advantage of our prenatal lactation appointments and breastfeeding classes, I truly feel they will have greater success with their breastfeeding journey.”
At Lourdes Hospital, Natalie, along with Lori Moore, RN, are both international board-certified lactation consultants. The hospital’s labor, nursery and postpartum team members are poised to help, too.
“Most of our nurses are crossed-trained; that means they work in labor, nursery and postpartum, along with helping mothers to breastfeed. This aids in the continuity of care,” Natalie explains. “Not only do our nurses have the learned knowledge and education to share, but most also have their personal experience to share as well, which adds compassion and understanding when helping mothers along the way. Breastfeeding is hard! Support is so important.”
In the past few years, the hospital also hired certified nurse midwives Becky Johnson and Maria Sprunger. And this past spring, we added neonatal nurse practitioners to the team to support the special care nursery for our most fragile babies.
“We are proud to say we now have neonatal nurse practitioners available 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Natalie shares. “They are knowledgeable and skilled in many ways, bringing a great understanding of how important breast milk is for the babies overall gut health. They add additional encouragement, support, knowledge and skill to our team and for each new mother.”
Natalie joined our Lourdes Hospital team 22 years ago, first as a surgical technician in the obstetrics department, then later as a registered nurse in labor, nursery and postpartum.
She also became certified in electric fetal monitoring. Then, following her experience breastfeeding her three children, she took a certified lactation counselor class.
“After my last child was born, I had such a wonderful breastfeeding journey and wanted all mothers to have this same experience, if that’s what they wish,” Natalie shares.
Along the way, Natalie worked alongside other lactation consultants that helped her learn and grow.
“I’m truly thankful for God sending them my way. My desire then deepened, and I realized how much Lourdes needed this breastfeeding support. I’m truly blessed to have been offered the position back in 2019.”
Overall, Natalie finds her job very rewarding.
“My goal each day is to inform new mothers how to properly latch their baby to the breast and how to protect their milk supply so they can feed their baby human milk,” she shares, and adds, “human milk has so many benefits for both mother and baby.”
Her greatest joy is to see the love of a mother and their baby, especially “for a mother to hold their baby skin to skin or breastfeed their baby when they didn’t think they could; when mothers doubt their body’s ability to make milk for their baby and a week later, they realize they have a ton of milk, and they trusted the process. I love to encourage mothers to ‘trust the process’ and believe in themselves and the way God made them.”
Natalie also finds her colleagues to be amazing.
“I see this daily in their caring for mothers and babies. Our obstetrics team has great respect for each individual mother-baby dyad and their personal feeding plan. We all want what our mothers want and are happy to show them how to reach and manage their goals. We have an amazing team of nurses, management, educators and providers. Our unit is growing and it’s exciting to see the growth of our hospital, as well as an increased number of women who want to breastfeed.”
Regardless of how moms choose to feed their newborns, “we hope to make each mother feel special and loved,” Natalie says.
She continues, “our desire is for our mothers to leave the hospital feeling they were given the best care that supported their individual needs, whatever that may be, and that they have our continued support along their journey of feeding their babies.”