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Growing Stronger Every Day

Published in Birthing Services, For the Health of It Author: CentraCare

This week is World Breastfeeding Week, a time to recognize breastfeeding mothers and the role that nursing plays in developing healthy babies that grow into healthy children.

This spring, we shared the story of Jena Orzechowski — who has worked for the past six years to support new moms as a nurse in the Family Birthing Center at CentraCare – St. Cloud Hospital. Jena is also a new mom herself. She and her husband’s first child, a girl named Cecilia, was born this past March.

Now that Cecilia is 5 months old, we checked in with the family, how they have adjusted to breastfeeding and how her time as a new mom has changed how she cares for patients.

Q: How has your own breastfeeding experience gone?

Jena: Working in the birth center, I thought breastfeeding would be easy for me. This was totally not the case! I was surprised as to how much dedication and practice it took. Now that we are 4-5 months out it has been incredibly rewarding.

She is gaining weight and thriving, such a rewarding experience for me and my husband to witness. We had a lot of unexpected roadblocks at the beginning. Mastitis for me. Thrush for her twice. She also had a shallow latch due to a tongue tie and hyperactive gag-reflex. It is surprising to me how unnatural a natural process can feel.

Q: How have you and your husband handled night-time feedings?

Jena: Night-time feedings are difficult, but they get easier with time. As a new parent it can be frustrating to go from sleeping uninterrupted for most of your life to being constantly needed every 2-3 hours around the clock. My husband has been good at helping in any way he can. Diaper changes, burping her, calming her during crying episodes so I could nap. Whenever I became emotional, he did his best to give me words of encouragement instead of advice. I think this is always a good idea for partners!

Q: Now that you have returned to work in the Family Birthing Center, how has pumping at work gone?

Jena: This was honestly something I was hesitant about, but I can safely say has been a much more positive experience than I expected. My coworkers have been nothing short of amazing and never make me feel guilty about leaving for a bit to pump. It has forced me to take the time out of my day to focus on my baby and has made separation a little easier.

Q: Has your experience changed how you counsel new mothers?

Jena: With our unexpected troubles along the way, it was very easy for me to feel overwhelmed. I started setting more short term, achievable goals. For example, "I will continue providing her with breast milk until I return to work and then re-evaluate" or even, "I'll feed until the end of the week and then see how I feel."

I also suggest finding your lactation support system during these unprecedented times. Most clinics have lactation support available just a phone call away, and I lost count how many times I spoke over the phone with a breastfeeding counselor or sent messages to my lactation nursing peers.

I thought I had all the education I needed to be successful because of my job. But sometimes it's important to simply receive feedback and encouragement from others. For some, breastfeeding comes easily and their baby's take to it immediately. For others like myself, it took a lot of dedication and practice. The body is capable of doing incredible things.