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Hendrick Medical Center first to offer new moms professional breastfeeding help

By Mari Cockerell, mcockerell@ktxs.com
Published On: Jun 28 2013 12:14:24 PM CDT
Updated On: Jun 28 2013 06:31:42 PM CDT
ABILENE, Texas -

There's something of a culture change underway at one of Abilene's hospitals. Hendrick Medical Center is working to change the experience moms and babies have giving birth at the facility.

Tabitha Alldredge is Hendrick's new, full-time lactation consultant. Her hire makes Hendrick the only hospital in the Big Country to have one on staff. New moms will get to meet her one on one. "Often I see them right after birth for that first breastfeeding. I see them in the recovery room, if they've had a c-section to help them also with that first breastfeeding, and then I see them at least once a day in the mother care unit," said Alldredge.

Leaders at Hendrick explain bringing on a lactation consultant is just one step towards what is a significant culture change at the Hospital - which includes promoting things like skin-to-skin contact; immediately putting baby on mom's chest after birth, which has shown to promote bonding and breastfeeding. "We're helping to encourage our moms to keep their babies with them more because we found out they have a more successful breastfeeding experience if their babies are with them in that first 24 hours," said Layla Bohall, the Women and Children's Educator at Hendrick.

It's a move moms like Mitsi, are definitely applauding. "Having somebody there in the hospital to say "we want to help you, we want to help you establish a breastfeeding relationship because it's important for you and for your baby," - that's awesome! Way to go hiring a lactation consultant for that!" said Willard.

Hiring a lactation consultant is just one part of an even bigger project at Hendrick; they'll soon be opening what's called a Baby Café.  It's a place where any mom can come for breastfeeding support. Moms do not need to have given birth at Hendrick to get help, and they can come at any stage of breastfeeding, all the way up to getting help while weaning. The Baby Café is entirely free of charge, and will open this August.