My month started with a coincidental staff meeting for my lactation staff on IBCLC Recognition Day. I turned it into a celebration along with education and coordination. Recognizing this team is important for me because I feel like sometimes they feel forgotten. But not this year. I had asked an educator and CNC to help me with some signs and so they were aware of the recognition day coming up. I found out that morning that they had ordered cookies to be sent to our meeting and had gotten a card signed by as many nurses as they could get. It truly made my staff happy and appreciated.
Similarly, I think that sometimes all of us in the world of childbirth education and doulas feel overlooked. None of us do this work for recognition; we do it for many, varying reasons. So I am taking this moment to thank you all for what you do. Pregnancy, birth, and postpartum are a beautiful, challenging, vulnerable, and significant time in the life of a person/family. And we get to be a part of that in many ways.
About a year ago, I was given a new challenge as part of my job. There has been a change to the prison system in my state and they are now working towards having a part of that prison where women can keep their baby with them after discharge from the hospital. We are still in process of working out all the logistics, policies, procedures, and legalities. It’s not a simple task. It has been done in other states so we do have a model for implementation and success. There is a little bit of research/data to back up the project. Even with that, we have heard some controversy over the project. I, myself, have questioned some of the decisions. In a similar vein, I work in a hospital where we have a whole program for women who have used or are currently using illicit substances. We have worked towards keeping those mom/baby pairs together whenever possible. And we work towards allowing for breastfeeding when it’s medially acceptable. Again, it is challenging and we sometimes wonder if we are making the best decision for mom or baby or both.
I started by noting that it’s an honor to be a part of a significant time in a person’s life. And now I want to bring it back around to human dignity for all birthing families. Many of us in our work find ourselves in situations where we are supporting, educating or working with families who come from a different place: poor, immigrants, refugees, prisoners, substance users, mentally unstable, non-cis- gendered, transgendered, LGBTQ+, or any other designation that gives us the opportunity to think about our practices and standard approaches. I say opportunity because if you take that time to learn a little more; show some compassion, then you grow from that experience. Working in an academic medical center that treats patients from several states, we serve all families and for that, I’m grateful.
As a reminder, part of certification and recertification for ICEA requires that you have 4 hours of education in cultural competency. We will not dictate what you learn, but challenge you to learn more about the people in your community who may be your clients or patients.
In closing, I would like to remind you that this year we are going to be looking at ways to build committees and small projects for ICEA. What is an area that interests you? Be thinking about that and watch for information in the upcoming months.