As a certified lactation counselor and maternal child nurse at Mercy Health – Lourdes Hospital, Lauren Thompson works alongside the hospital’s lactation consultants to serve patients during their breastfeeding journeys.
“We try to make sure someone with some kind of advanced certification is there on days and nights because we all know problems and questions can arise at any time,” Lauren shares. “We all share the same common goal: to give our moms the best start on their feeding journeys and help them through any difficulties. We know that breastfeeding may not be for everyone and that’s OK! We support breastfeeding moms and formula feeding moms alike.”
Lauren and her team members agree that many people think that since breastfeeding is natural, it should come easy.
“That couldn’t be further from the truth,” Lauren says. “Sometimes it does come natural and easy, but those first few weeks are hard! A new mom’s emotions are up and down, they are tired and babies don’t come with instruction manuals. Breastfeeding education helps moms with those struggles and turns those struggles into success stories, equipping moms with the support they need to overcome those hurdles. It doesn’t matter if they feed their baby breast milk one time or if they breastfeed for two-plus years. We want to help them make their feeding journey theirs, accomplishing any goal they have.”
Lauren’s experience as a mom and nurse has shaped the work that she does with patients.
“I know that as a new mom, I was overwhelmed and put lots of pressure on myself to make sure I was doing everything ‘right’ and doing the ‘best’ for my baby,” she says. “But, looking back, I realize the struggles I had. I want to help our patients and their families through similar experiences by sharing what I learned firsthand paired with the training I’ve received and up-to-date information.”
Lauren notes that taking care of a baby, including feeding a baby, is something that is always evolving and changing based on current experiences and circumstances.
“I think it’s important that new moms know that not everything happens ‘by the book,’ per se,” she says. “I want them to know they have a support system of nurses who are here for them day or night even after they go home. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve answered the phone during the middle of the night for those difficult 2 a.m. feedings and helped moms through it. Our services don’t end when moms leave the hospital. Moms follow up with us after discharge for weight checks and lactation visits, during which we continue to help with feedings and monitor weight gain or loss on the babies.”
Lauren’s assignments can vary, and include serving as a charge nurse, providing patient care and working postpartum and in the nursery.
“That is part of the beauty of Lourdes Hospital,” she shares. “We have all types of patients on one floor, so I don’t have to pick which area I want to work in and only get that option. We see women in all walks of life on our floor. Often we keep the same patients throughout our shifts during the week, so patients see familiar faces and bond with their nurse. For some patients, that bonding makes it easier for them to open up regarding any struggles they are having.”
In addition to her duties on the floor, Lauren also teaches the childbirth education boot camp classes one Saturday a month along with a fellow night shift coworker, Lori, who is one of our lactation consultants, teaching the breastfeeding portion of the class.
“I truly enjoy these classes because I think education is so important,” Lauren says. “We teach these classes in small group sessions and make each class fun and interactive. It allows patients to ask those questions that come up in between appointments that they usually search online for and then scare themselves.”
Attendees learn about the labor and birth process, vaginal and C-section deliveries, pain control, postpartum care, newborn care and breastfeeding, as well as warning signs, when to come to the hospital and what things to bring with them to the hospital. They also tour our department.
“Having nurses teach the class allows pregnant women and their support people to have someone they recognize when they come in to deliver, which helps lower their stress levels,” Lauren says.
Lauren also serves in another very important role.
“I’m on the bereavement committee because I’ve been that mom, too,” Lauren says. “When people think about labor and delivery, 99 percent of the time, it’s of a happy time in someone’s life. As a mom who had a pregnancy loss, I know there are other outcomes that people don’t want to think about. Those women and their families deserve to know that we take care of them through this sad time in their life. Some of us have been through it ourselves and can share unique perspectives. I think this is important because it’s hard to know what that feels like until you’ve walked through it yourself.”
When asked what she loves most about her role, Lauren shares the following.
“I’ve known since I was 5 years old that I wanted to deliver babies. To know that I get to live out my dream every shift is such a blessing. Women’s health is truly my passion and I can’t emphasize how much I love it. I love being a part of life-changing moments in their lives. When I see patients out in public later, I love hearing, ‘you were my nurse.’ It’s a beautiful thing when a career and a passion come together, and that’s what being a maternal child nurse at Lourdes Hospital is for me.”