National Nurses Week: Services expand to help new mothers

Published 8:55 pm Friday, May 5, 2023

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There are no shortage of challenges when it comes to being a mother of a newborn, but a growing program within Mayo Clinic Health Systems is intending to take some of the stress off mothers when it comes to breastfeeding.

Kellie Jorgenson and Nicole Meyer, both registered nurses at the Austin location, as well as Amy Newman APRN, CNP, WHNP-BC in Albert Lea are international board certified lactation consultants, while Amber Kraft APRN, CP, also based in Albert Lea, is a certified lactation counselor. They use their positions to help support mothers — whether they are new or on to their next child.

“It’s been awesome to be able to go through that journey to watch them become parents — be parents —and how successful their journey has been with breastfeeding,” Jorgenson said.

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One of the newest steps Mayo is taking are designed classes that will start in June and will guide mothers through the upcoming steps they will take when feeding their child.

In that regard, Meyer said the class will be geared toward expectant mothers, though she said that in the future there are hopes of adding postpartum classes.

“We’ll go over all of what to expect about breastfeeding,” Meyer said. “Ways to get a successful start.”

The classes will be the second Tuesday each month between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. People can sign up for classes on the Mayo Clinic Health System website as well as by calling.

However, the classes are only part of the overall effort to provide mothers with an understanding of an element of motherhood that for some can be an extra pressure.

Both nurses said that there are elements to breastfeeding that many don’t know about or maybe don’t understand.

“If it was easy we wouldn’t have this role,” Meyer said. “There is such a huge need for lactation support. I think a lot of people think that delivering the baby is the challenging part, but breastfeeding can be that part that’s just as unexpected and tough.”

Not that breastfeeding supports of this kind were ever vacant, but before everything was consolidated into the Family Birth Unit in Austin, those services in Austin were largely run by Jorgenson.

“We had services in previous years, which worked with Kellie, but we were a smaller unit,” said Nursing Manager Crystal Studer. “It was more manageable.

Since we combined optimizations with more patient volumes it became clear we needed a dedicated person to give it the attention it needs, which is why I think this has been a natural progression.”

Meyer, who has spent all nine of her years at Mayo, works in an inpatient capacity and is the newest addition to the role of lactation consultant.

Jorgenson has been with Mayo for 12 of her 13 years in Mayo and has taken on a variety of roles in different departments with her job. Her primary location is in the clinic where she serves in an outpatient role, talking with mothers who are coming back for check ups and other appointments.

In her time as a lactation consultant, Jorgenson has also worked with partners in Red Wing and Rochester and obstetrician colleagues in the Midwest to bring donor milk to Austin, another big addition.

“Getting the breast milk up and running, that started about two or three years ago,” Jorgenson said. “It probably took us a good solid year to get that process started because there is a milk bank in Minnesota. Previously there wasn’t. Only in Iowa.”

The milk stored with Mayo is only for a mother’s use while in the hospital. Once they leave, mothers would have to work through the milk bank.

But having that option available at the Family Birth Center is an important part of the effort.

“I would say, probably over the last three years it’s been more concentrated in trying to increase the services we’re offering to new moms or even moms who have multiple babies,” Jorgenson said.

Most importantly, coverage of helping support mothers has been expanded so that there is internal and external support in place in Austin as well as the connection for consultation with Albert Lea’s Kraft and Newman.

“Now we have inpatient coverage,” Meyer said. “That’s been a big change in the last year and we’re hoping to expand that even more so we have coverage every day.”

There’s also another aspect and that’s with the consultants themselves who feel a sense of reward. It’s something Studer sees each day.

“All of them have such a calming presence,” she said of the four consultants. “Working with Kellie, Nicole, Amy and Amber — they just meet you where you’re at as a new mom and help reassure you, that however you want to feed your baby, we’ll help you with that.”