When Tina Jennings became pregnant with her third child and decided to try breastfeeding for the first time, she wondered if she would be able to manage it. As a patient care technician a Christiana Care, she was accustomed to balancing the demands of work and family, but adding breastfeeding to the mix seemed daunting.
Today, eight months after giving birth to her daughter, Mikayla, Jennings is working full-time while continuing to breastfeed, thanks to a supportive work environment and the encouragement she received from Christiana Care lactation consultants.
“I knew I wanted to breastfeed Mikayla,” said Jennings. “My other children are older, and breastfeeding wasn’t encouraged as much when they were born. With Mikayla, I was better informed and heard other mothers talking about the benefits of breastfeeding. So I made the decision to do it, but it was very difficult at first.”
Breastfeeding was challenging at first, because Mikayla spent her first five days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. But Christiana Care lactation consultants guided her through the rough spots like teaching Mikayla to latch-on, and getting Jenning’s breast milk flowing.
“When it finally worked, the bonding feeling I got from nursing was so special,” Jennings said.
By the time Jennings came back to work, Mikayla was breastfeeding exclusively, and Jennings was delighted to find the assistance she need to pump during the work day and a supportive supervisor — Beth Rathmanner, MSN, RN-BC, nurse manager of the heart failure unit at Christiana Care.
“She has been wonderful,” said Jennings. “I work my breaks around the times I need to pump, and Christiana Care provides a private lactation lounge where breastfeeding moms can have privacy. There are other new moms who use the room, too, and it’s great to have a quiet place to pump. A refrigerator in the room gives us a safe place to store our milk.”
Now that Mikayla is getting older, she is beginning to transition to baby food, and Jennings needs to pump less frequently. She hopes to continue breastfeeding until Mikayla reaches her first birthday.
“I am so happy that I stuck with breastfeeding,” she said. “It makes me feel close to her, and I think the breast milk has kept her healthy. She seems to fight illness better than my other babies did, and teething has been easier too.”
Asked what she would tell other moms who may worry about returning to work and breastfeeding, Jennings said, “Talk to your supervisor. Christiana Care is very supportive of breastfeeding. My supervisor helped make it work for me.”
When she looks at her baby, she knows that breastfeeding has been worthwhile.
“Mikayla is always smiling,” she said. “She’s a happy, healthy baby, and we have a wonderful mother-daughter bond. I have to believe that breastfeeding has a lot to do with that.”