When Priscilla Claudio of Harlingen had her second child at Harlingen Medical Center, she never thought she would be breastfeeding her baby for 19 months – even after she went back to work.
Ms. Claudio, age 35, says she feels that her baby girl Emma is getting nature’s best nutrition because she is still nursing her with breast milk.
“I never anticipated going this long with breastfeeding, but I’m very excited that I’ve been able to, because it’s the best nutrition for the baby,” Ms. Claudio said.
Ms. Claudio noted that several studies have shown that breast milk helps protect newborn babies from various health conditions. In addition, Ms. Claudio said breastfeeding promotes closeness between mom and baby.
Eight weeks after her baby was born, Ms. Claudio went back to work. Fortunately for her, it was her very special job as a nurse and breastfeeding educator at Harlingen Medical Center which helped her in her quest to continue breastfeeding her baby. Her own positive experience with breastfeeding is allowing Ms. Claudio to encourage other new mothers at the hospital to give breastfeeding a try with their newborn babies.
“When I talk to the patients about breastfeeding, they want to try it. We lead by example,” Ms. Claudio said.
Extensive knowledge of breastfeeding is also imparted to new mothers at Harlingen Medical Center by Ms. Claudio and her fellow breastfeeding educator at the hospital, Jenny Diaz, RNC, IBCLC. Both Ms. Claudio and Ms. Diaz were recently certified by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners.
To achieve this board certification, Ms. Claudio and Ms. Diaz prepared for over a year for a rigorous exam which is administered across the world in July.
“It’s an international exam,” Ms. Claudio said. “Austria received their results first, and in the United States we had to wait three months to be notified that we had passed, in September. It was so exciting that I cried!”
In addition to the lactation certification, Ms. Diaz was previously certified as a Breastfeeding Counselor by Prepared Childbirth Educators, Inc.
“We encourage mothers to breast feed, and we teach them about what we call skin-to-skin breastfeeding with their baby,” Ms. Diaz said. “The purpose of skin-to-skin is to encourage breastfeeding by placing the baby on mom’s chest area as soon as possible after birth. This also helps to make the bonding closer between mom and baby.”
In fact, the first hour after the baby is born, “the golden hour,” is the most critical time to encourage breastfeeding. Recognizing this, the labor-and-delivery nurses at Harlingen Medical Center perform many of their assessments of the baby while the baby is in mom’s arms. The nurses may take the baby a few feet away for five minutes or so to weigh the newborn and get the baby’s footprints, but then they put the baby “back on mom’s tummy right away,” Ms. Diaz said.
Harlingen Medical’s two certified lactation consultants also share valuable information with new moms – including practical information on how they can get an electric breast pump for free in many cases, either through their health insurance or, for those who qualify, through the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program.
New mothers often call Ms. Diaz or Ms. Claudio for support as they learn to breastfeed. And all new mothers at Harlingen Medical Center can learn about breastfeeding in advance by attending free childbirth preparation classes which Ms. Claudio teaches on the last Saturday morning of every month, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon, in the HMC Medical Office Building Conference Room. To learn more about the breastfeeding and childbirth classes, and the Women’s Center at Harlingen Medical Center, please call 956-365-1139, or visit www.harlingenmedicalcenter.com/Services/Womens-Center.aspx.
In addition, Harlingen Medical Center will host a free two-day workshop on breastfeeding June 29-30. The event will be sponsored by the Texas Department of State Health Services, and will be free and open to nurses, social workers, and new mothers. For more information or to register for the breastfeeding conference, please call the HMC Education Dept. at 956-365-1034 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.