Lactation counseling at a primary care clinic

Rhyne,EWhen their pediatric primary care practice lost its only Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC), Elizabeth Rhyne, RN, CPNP, CLC and her colleague Ashley Borawski, RN, CPNP completed The Lactation Counselor Training Course to fill a void.

Having noticed the positive impact left by the former CLC, Rhyne says she wanted to be a part of it.

Early in her career, Rhyne had the opportunity to serve mothers and babies, but when she switched to primary care, she developed a stronger bond with her patients.

Further, becoming a CLC enables her to offer specialized, evidence-based care to the mother baby dyad.

Rhyne says The Lactation Counselor Training Course bolstered her breastfeeding knowledge and gave her the tools and confidence to help mothers be successful.

“I follow mom’s lead, but encourage them to offer breast milk to their infants by problem solving, educating, and supporting them,” she says.

Rhyne remembers working with a new mother who really wanted to nurse her baby, but considered quitting because breastfeeding was painful. Acknowledging that pain while breastfeeding is common but not normal, Rhyne monitored baby’s latch and helped the mother to reposition her baby. [Read Pain Reduction and Treatment of Sore Nipples in Nursing Mothers for more information.]

“The simple act of changing the infant’s position allowed mom to truly enjoy the experience and not be in pain,” Rhyne reports. “She was so appreciative.”

Since becoming a CLC, Rhyne says she appreciates mothers who continue to nurse despite the difficulties or challenges they face.

Among common Booby Traps mothers are up against in our country, many of Rhyne’s patients “are impoverished and face a variety of life stressors on top of having a new baby.”

Lactation counselors acknowledge that breastfeeding isn’t always easy, but with support, encouragement, and access to resources, mothers can be successful, she says.

As a lactation professional, Rhyne faces challenges of her own.

“…The most challenging part is the actual visits being limited on time and reimbursement,” she explains.

She and her colleagues are looking to create a newborn wellness center to address this issue.

Rhyne also plans to continue to help mothers meet their infant feeding goals by decreasing but not diminishing the presence of baby formulas in her community. She would also like to see local birthing facilities achieve Baby-Friendly designation to encourage breastfeeding in the high risk population. Lactation counseling alongside newborn visits will help mothers to achieve their goals as well.

Rhyne’s and others’ passion for helping mothers and babies and ongoing research to improve ultimate health outcomes leaves her optimistic about the future of maternal child health.

She’s appreciative of the efforts to support nursing mothers through insurance coverage and legislation that supports working, nursing mothers.

Rhyne and Borawski will present Lactation Counseling in a Primary Care Clinic at Healthy Children Project’s International Breastfeeding Conference where they will raise the question:

“Will having CLCs available increase their utilization in a low-income minority population?”

To register for the conference, click here.


Leave a Reply