In her 43 year career serving families, Paula Hart, BS, RN, IBCLC, CCE has watched maternal child health care evolve and devolve. She’s accomplished a lot in those four decades including coordinating an outpatient breastfeeding clinic, facilitating breastfeeding support groups, creating Mothers Offering Mothers Support (MOMS) Lactation Resource Centers, becoming an instructor for The Institute for the Advancement of Breastfeeding and Lactation Education (IABLE) and actively participates in the Northern Illinois Breastfeeding Task Force and State of Illinois Breastfeeding Task Force among other projects.
But there is one thing she hasn’t done: attend an International Conference. That will change in just a few weeks at the upcoming International Breastfeeding Conference where she will present I Have My Certification… What’s Next? Helping Mothers Reach Their Breastfeeding Goals–Without Giving Away the Store alongside Healthy Children Project faculty Carin Richter, RN, MSN, APN-BC, IBCLC, CCBE. Hart and Richter will cover information about starting a private practice for lactation support as well as open discussion about sharing and networking with other professionals.
“I am so excited,” Hart says.
Hart’s passion lies in helping mothers feel successful about their feeding goals.
She says her work with the outpatient breastfeeding clinic really helped her realize her passion, and the clinic space made it easier to better serve moms. Moms and babies were invited for a one hour, one-on-one, free session with a lactation specialist, and Hart and her colleagues opened communication with the mothers’ other care providers to ensure continuity of care.
“Many women need that lifeline after they leave the hospital,” Hart comments.
Of course, support prenatally is vital too, so Hart worked on a home visiting program with the State of Illinois Department of Human Services which served a “hugely diverse population.”
Last year, Hart retired from her position at the hospital to help take care of her then youngest granddaughter, but it wasn’t long before she was conjuring up her next project: MOMS Lactation Resource Centers, private practice lactation support.
“I need to make sure that moms are still being taken care of,” she says.
She goes on to explain, that many parents are faced with what seem like insurmountable infant feeding challenges, and they are, she says, if you don’t have resources.
There’s a common thread that has helped Hart help so many others.
“Listen first,” she says. “A lot of our moms just really need to be heard.”
And it’s clear that this strategy makes a lasting impact.
Recently, Hart was approached by a mother and her young children at a local store.
“You helped me breastfeed her!” the mother exclaimed.
Hart contemplates: “It has taken me to almost the end of my nursing career, but after all of these years, I know that each and every step I took was valuable.”