FORT POLK, La. – Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital received recognition from the Louisiana Department of Health Gift. This evidence-based labeling program provides resources to increase breastfeeding rates, improve childbirth services, and enhance patient-centered care at the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk, as well as at civilian medical facilities in Louisiana.
Amanda Greagoff, a registered nurse at BJACH’s maternity, delivery and postpartum care unit, led the initiative to earn this designation.
“Breastfeeding has many benefits for both mothers and newborns,” she said. “As a participating facility in the Gift program, we receive training, information and the opportunity to network with others in our field.”
Greagoff said having trained team members support families gives her department the opportunity to provide mothers with the information needed to make informed decisions about breastfeeding.
“Our team is working very hard to excel as we continue to strive to improve the quality of care we provide to our community,” she said. “Next year, our goal is to receive the Shining Star award, which has stricter requirements.”
Allison Harrison, military lactation consultant, serves as an ambassador for the local Mom2Mom Global Chapter in Fort Polk and is an American Red Cross volunteer for BJACH.
“Mom2Mom is a peer support community for all pregnant, breastfeeding, or ex-breastfeeding parents to support one another through the unique challenges breastfeeding parents face,” she said. “I founded the local group in the summer of 2021. My goal was to create a safe space for parents to ask questions and receive appropriate and respectful advice based on the mother’s breastfeeding goals and the infant’s well-being. I want parents to have up-to-date breastfeeding recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization.”
Harrison said most parents who stop breastfeeding do so for lack of support.
“I’m so incredibly happy that BJACH received the Gift award, it’s a big step in the right direction,” she said. “I hope that staff in each department will be encouraged to examine their own social, personal, religious or cultural biases regarding breastfeeding in order to provide the best possible care for our breastfeeding parents.”
Harrison has completed the Certified Lactation Consultant course and is awaiting the results of her proficiency exam. She hopes to become a TRICARE approved lactation provider in 2023.
“Meanwhile, I became a Red Cross volunteer to help BJACH fill in some of the gaps in their lactation services,” she said. “I have been working with the hospital’s referral office for patients with questions about lactation. I get numerous calls, texts and social media messages every week from parents who need help with breastfeeding or pumping. I make home visits when I can help new parents who are having difficulty latching comfortably and effectively. I spend most of my time educating and empowering new parents on what questions to ask their own healthcare providers to ensure their breastfeeding goals are best met.”
Maj. Sandra Rodich, BJACH LDRP clinical nurse in charge, said her goal is to improve lactation services in her department and create a system where parents can always come back for breastfeeding help if they have questions .
“During the first 12 weeks, they can come back for support,” she said. “One day I would like to hire a lactation consultant. I am thankful for our Red Cross volunteer who is always willing to help. I want our patients to feel like they can breastfeed without pressure and have support when they need it.”
Rodich said her staff keep up to date with evidence-based breastfeeding best practices, provide patients with the most up-to-date information and coach fathers on how they can help.
“We are currently working on a lactation room so that patients have a private place to come to if they need help,” she said. “Our patients need to feel in control of their own bodies and decisions about their babies. I think it’s very important to educate them about the benefits of breastfeeding, but we never want patients to feel guilty about not breastfeeding. Every patient should have a good understanding of the basics when they are discharged from the hospital and if they are not, we want them to be comfortable enough to speak up.”
Captain Jennifer Regan, Registered Nurse, BJACH LDRP knows the benefits of breastfeeding first hand.
“As an Active Duty Soldier and a mother of twins, I feel like breastfeeding has brought me so many benefits,” she said. “Breastfeeding takes energy and has made it easier for me to lose the weight I gained during pregnancy. Breastfeeding allowed me to maximize my sleep hours because I didn’t have to get up in the middle of the night to make bottles, the milk was always ready, available and at the right temperature. Going back to work and leaving my babies was emotionally harder than I ever imagined. However, knowing my babies were getting my expressed milk made me feel like I was providing them with the nourishment they needed while we were physically apart.”
Regan said there are regulations that protect a soldier’s right to a clean place to pump and properly store milk.
“I believe breastfeeding is a personal choice and there is no wrong way to feed your baby; A fed baby is the best baby,” she said.
Regan said her department is fully prepared to support those who have made the decision to breastfeed.
“The gift label provides free resources to families to help them succeed in breastfeeding,” she said. “Breastfeeding offers some unique benefits to the mother, including reducing a mother’s risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer, diabetes and heart disease. It strengthens the bond with your baby. A baby who is exclusively breastfed has increased protection against diseases in the first six months to one year of life. They also have fewer diarrhea, respiratory and ear infections. Breastfeeding can reduce the risk of cot death and reduce diabetes and obesity later in life. Breast milk is specific to the child it was made for, providing exactly what the child needs at every stage of their development. It’s like having your own personal nutrition plan.”
Greagoff said the term “gift” is important to BJACH and the Fort Polk community.
“The standards we adhere to with this award, combined with patient feedback, help us improve the quality of care and support the needs and expectations of our families. We strive to meet each patient where they are and teach them more about breastfeeding,” she said. “The quality of the services and support we provide families continues to improve as we educate ourselves and our patients.”
Editor’s Note: For more information on the Louisiana Department of Health and Human Services gift program or Mom2Mom Global/Breastfeeding in Combat Boots, visit their websites at: https://thegiftla.org/ or https://www.mom2momglobal.org/
|Date of recording:||11/21/2022|
|Release Date:||21.11.2022 15:54|
|Location:||FORT POLK, LA, USA|
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