If you’re a mother living in Colorado, chances are you’ve breastfed your baby. Statistically, Colorado fares well compared to U.S. national average breastfeeding rates.
Jodi Heiser RN, CLC, ANLC, IBCLC and Bonnie Garcia RN, CLC, ANLC, IBCLC, lactation specialists working in a private pediatric practice in the Denver metro area, attribute this phenomenon to Colorado being a “pro-health” state in general.
“People are very active here,” they begin in an email interview. “We spend a lot of time outside, hiking, biking or just being outside. This is probably due to the fact that 300 out of the 365 days a year are sunny.”
“This healthy lifestyle also supports healthy eating,” they go on. “Since the healthiest meal for babies is breastfeeding, most families plan and want to breastfeed their children.”
“This gives us a bit of an advantage as breastfeeding is considered the standard for feeding newborns,” Heiser and Garcia comment. “[Dyads] are given support and a good foundation for being successful at breastfeeding.”
Although Colorado parents are often off to a great start, Heiser and Garcia notice that their feeding situations tend to become more challenging once they’ve left the hospital.
Short hospital stays mean that mothers’ milk may not have yet transitioned from colostrum, and feeding and latching challenges might start to arise in the first few days at home.
“That’s where we feel our pediatric practice can be a unique place to provide support,” the duo writes.
Heiser and Garcia provide care all week at three offices located throughout Denver. They’re also available by phone to field breastfeeding questions and triage lactation issues.
Cultivating a breastfeeding-friendly culture comes easy to the team in the pediatric care setting. They’re able to fulfill the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation for a newborn feeding assessment be done at day 3 to 4 of life by a qualified lactation professional.
“The wonderful thing about providing lactation care in the pediatric setting is that it is all a part of the continuum of care that the mom and baby are already receiving,” they write. “If a mom is having breastfeeding issues, we can provide assistance right there at her pediatrician’s office… It eliminates her having to find another resource…”
Heiser and Garcia find success in each family and are inspired by parents’ resilience.
“What I love best about what Bonnie and I get to do is that we are able to build relationships with these moms and their children,” Hesier shares. “We watch the children grow, we watch siblings be born, we get the blessing of helping them feel good about feeding their babies. It really is a long term relationship we have been able to develop with our families over the years.”
She recalls “Sarah’s” story, a mother in their practice with her first child “Charlie”, at the time three days old.
Sarah struggled with low milk production and severe nipple pain and no confidence that she would be successful at breastfeeding her child, Heiser remembers. The provider wanted to start formula supplementation because Charlie was down 12 percent from birth weight.
“I felt Sarah’s milk was coming in and that helping Sarah correct Charlie’s latch would minimize nipple pain and help him be more effective at breast,” Heiser continues.
The provider agreed to wait one more day. Sarah triple-fed for the next 24 hours and Charlie bounced up 2 oz the next day.
Sarah went on to successfully and confidently breastfeed Charlie until she became pregnant with her daughter “Valerie”.
For at least two to three years, Heiser and Garcia have been working to implement newborn feeding assessments as part of routine care and getting insurance to pay for the service.
“We have felt strongly that this should not be a service available only to only those who can afford to pay out of pocket for this service,” Garcia states.
“We are finally, in the past year, seeing successful insurance reimbursement rates which has allowed us to offer this service to any new mom and baby that would benefit from a feeding assessment,” she goes on. “It is more and more becoming just a natural part of their postpartum/neonatal care and insurance companies are (for the most part) paying for this service.”
The team has also recently created “Baby Bistro”, a monthly get together for new parents.
“We want it to be a place where there is peer support and relationship bonding between mothers,” they write.
In addition, Heiser and Garcia plan to speak briefly about a breastfeeding topic at the Baby Bistro and offer a Q&A session as well as the chance to set up a feeding assessment for more challenging feeding concerns.
For more information about the team’s work, visit them here.