Meet Kathy Parrish, who works in our lactation support program.
How long have you worked at Children’s? I have worked at Children’s 24 years this month. I have worked in the three neonatal units, the float team and ED and SSU. I have been in the lactation support program for two-and-a-half years. I never expected to be a lactation consultant. In December 2010, I had just finished my master’s in holistic health studies, and I knew that I wanted to work more closely with families without having the responsibility of caring for their babies. When the lactation consultant job was posted, I accepted the position (I was a certified lactation counselor at the time) with the stipulation that I pass the International Lactation Board in July, six months later. Lactation consulting is about so much more than breastfeeding. We also work with families on stress reduction, discuss normal growth and development, and the changes that occur in family dynamics when the new baby comes home. I also am the principle investigator on a research study call the GIRLS-Guided Imagery Reduces Stress and Improves Lactation Study. We are trying to find ways to increase milk supply and decrease stress. This study is for moms of babies born at less than 30 weeks. The control group logs their milk production and does a NICU Parent Stress Questionnaire. The research group also listens to a guided imagery relaxation recording three times a day while they pump. We are just analyzing the data now-so more info to come.
What is your role in Children’s lactation support program? What’s a typical day like for you? That’s a difficult question because we do so many things. I am a staff nurse and international board certified lactation consultant, I am board-certified in holistic nursing and I am half of the lactation support program. We try to see all moms who are breastfeeding or pumping for breastmilk. Our primary role is to educate and support those moms. We also do staff education, teach the breastfeeding portion of fundamentals of neonatal nursing, and orient the new neonatal nurses to lactation support. We do a lot of “by the way” consultations, which means that we can’t walk down a hall without being asked questions about breastfeeding or medications that a mom is taking. On a typical day, I check the computer for new admissions or new lactation orders and then I hit the ground running. With close to 95 percent of the moms in the three neonatal areas initiating pumping or breastfeeding, there is always somebody to see. I spend anywhere from a few minutes to an hour or more with families, depending on their needs, which translates to 8-14 dyads (mom and baby) per shift.
What drew you to Children’s? Fate. In 1989, as my family was preparing to move to Minnesota (my home, but I had married a Texan and lived there for 20 years), I came to the Twin Cities six months ahead of our move and interviewed at several hospitals. Children’s was the only hospital that would hold a job for me for six months. Fate.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? If I could travel anywhere in the world, I would go to Tuscany. It’s one of the few things left on my bucket list. Why Tuscany? The blue skies, blue water, Italian food. I don’t really know what draws me, but I know that I will go there soon.