New lactation resource available at Brooks Memorial Hospital

For new moms, the questions about breastfeeding can be daunting. From health concerns to an infant’s nutritional requirements and even the legal rights to breastfeed at the workplace, new moms often need an important advocate to provide access to information at one of the most critical times in their lives. That’s where Mindy Conti, RN, C-EFM, IBCLC, comes in.

Conti is a board-certified lactation consultant in the Obstetrics/Gynecology Department at Brooks Memorial Hospital in Dunkirk, an accreditation obtained through the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE). Conti has been a member of the Brooks’ staff since 2004 and is the only board-certified lactation consultant in Chautauqua County that is offering lactation services to the public.

According to a statement issued by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in February, while the percentage of mothers who start and continue breastfeeding is rising, officials say that providing support to new moms is still a key and necessary component in seeing the trend continue. Officials say that the benefits to both babies and breastfeeding moms are far-reaching to the infant’s overall health and well-being.

“It’s a public health issue,” explains Roselle Atzrott, NR, BSN, CCE, CLC, Obstetrics/ Gynecology Department director at Brooks Memorial Hospital. “Medical professionals agree on the nutritional benefits of breast milk in getting infants started on the right track, so we’re pleased to have someone with this level of expertise available for patients and staff right in our department.”

Individuals learn about Conti’s services through Brooks Memorial Hospital’s ongoing Childbirth Classes, as patients in the Obstetrics unit or by word of mouth in the community. In addition, information is available via the hospital’s website at www.LakeErieHealth.org.

“We’re always available by phone in our unit to answer calls at any time,” Conti noted. “We teach basic breastfeeding skills to moms as well as their significant others. We can even discuss strategies on how to handle other young children in the household while handling the management of breastfeeding.”

Other issues that can arise for breastfeeding moms include medication questions during and after pregnancy, nursing through another pregnancy and strategies for the management of two breastfeeding children.

Conti said that instruction isn’t only directed toward new moms, however. Siblings can have questions as well as grandparents, dads and other caregivers.

“We’re here to help anyone involved in the family,” she said. Since aftercare is an important issue for new moms as well, Conti said she is available to provide services to individuals with questions even after they leave the hospital, or for those in the community. “Women will stop in with milk supply, incorrect latch or hormonal issues and we can help.”

Another issue of importance that Conti is able to advise new moms with is how to transition back to work, breastfeeding issues at the workplace, and to provide information on the legal rights of breastfeeding women.

“We want to be able to assist women in all circumstances to provide them with the tools and information they’ll need to help their babies have the best start,” Conti explained.

In addition to providing support to moms, caregivers and siblings, Conti also provides support and education to staff members in her department on an ongoing basis, according to Atzrott.

“She’ll provide classes to standardize how we teach new moms the best techniques for breastfeeding and to keep our nursing staff updated on the latest information.”

To obtain board certification, Conti was required to undergo 1,000 hours of interaction with moms and their infants within a five-year period. In addition, educational requirements include the completion of general college-level courses, 90 credit hours in IBLCE-approved lactation courses and successful completion of examination requirements. Recertification is required through educational requirements every five years and through examination every 10 years. In addition, board-certification means that experts in the field are keeping up-to-date on the latest requirements and recommendations of official sources such as the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine (ABM), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and other groups that represent the interests and concerns of breastfeeding women and their families.

Conti, a Falconer native, has been providing lactation counseling since February 2012, prior to completing her recent professional board-certification. She completed the registered nursing degree program at Jamestown Community College in June 2004 and is currently in the Bachelor of Science degree program. She has a 2-year-old son and is expecting a second child with her husband Bob Conti in May. Conti is certified in neonatal resuscitation and electronic fetal monitoring. She completed certified breastfeeding specialist training from Lactation Education Resources in February 2012.

To contact the lactation consultant at Brooks Memorial Hospital, call 363-3081. Brooks Memorial Hospital is an affiliate of Lake Erie Regional Health System of New York.