Teach, Educate, Support, and Inform

by Elizabeth Kirts, MPH, ICCE, IBCLC, RLC

As I do every month, I recently looked up the health awareness days for October. I knew a few of them, but I was surprised at how many of the days are pertinent for those of us working in Women’s and Children’s health or allied health professions.  Below is the list of those days.

  • Breast Cancer Awareness Month
  • Domestic Violence Awareness Month
  • Health Literacy Awareness Month
  • Medical Ultrasound Awareness Month
  • National Down Syndrome Awareness Month
  • Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month
  • Prenatal-onset GBS Disease Recognition Month
  • Spina-Bifida Awareness Month
  • Sudden Infant Death Awareness (SIDS) Month
  • Mental Health Awareness Week
  • World Cerebral Palsy Day
  • National Depression Screening Day
  • World Mental Health Day
  • International Day of the Girl Child Day
  • Global Handwashing Day
  • National Healthcare Quality Week
  • National Mammography Day
  • National Health Education Week

Because there are so many, I am not going to highlight any specifically, but rather take the space I am given to remind everyone how much impact we have in people’s lives. Knowing about any or all of the above topics can help us be better at our jobs.

As educators, doulas, and lactation specialists, we are in a unique position to teach, educate, support, and inform. We often have more time with the patients and clients than other care providers. We also are frequently using a different approach or looking at things from a different angle.

Often times, I find myself saying, “I’m just” as in, “I’m just the lactation manager.” I said this last night to a friend who is a doula in my area. This lead to a conversation about how we often times forget how vital we are to the families we serve.

I taught a childbirth class many years ago to a woman who has now worked her way up to a position in senior leadership in my hospital. I was attending an event and she came up to me and said that she still remembers everything I taught her about using her voice for her birth experience and how I helped calm her fears about both birthing and new parenting. It felt good to know that I impacted someone enough that this many years later she still draws on the things I taught.

One reminder I want to give for this month is to remember to be present and compassionate in your work. A trick I use is to leave everything that isn’t important at the door. When I enter a teaching space or patient room, my goal is to be 100% present (notice I didn’t say perfect) in my interactions and teachings. I take a deep breath and release anything that is in the back of my mind or could interfere. I make it my goal to really listen to what the families I am interacting with need. I hope that you are doing something similar.

The Board of Directors is continuing to listen to what you need. We will be sending out a survey to Certified Professionals very soon. And we will be holding the Annual Meeting on November 15 to give you an opportunity to hear from us and ask question. We continue in our roles to serve all of you so that you can support families.