We’ve all heard of the Robert Fulghum book All I Ever Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. I think it’s true—be nice, share, don’t pull on pigtails, tie your shoes—these are life lessons that never lose their value.
Those of you who follow BlogtoBabyFriendly may have noticed a decline in the number of posts, and if you work at my hospital, you probably already know the reason why. For the rest of you, let me fill you in. Last November I took the opportunity to be the manager of our labor and delivery unit. We call it the Childbirth Unit. After years of working in lactation and as a doula, I became a nurse at 34 years old with the very specific intentions not only to work as a labor and delivery nurse, but to work as a labor and delivery nurse at Memorial Hospital of South Bend. How exciting to now be serving as manager for the nurses I have admired for so, so many years!
In my new role, I’ve been surprised at times how my background in lactation has benefited me in unexpected ways. Just like the kindergarten book, some lessons carry over to management and beyond. Here are just some examples:
- Support is a must have for success
When I taught breastfeeding classes, I always told families the most important thing is to have a support system. I put it as No. 1 on my list of things to know and told classes it wasn’t No. 1 just to get it checked off our agenda, but because it really is the No. 1 thing needed to be successful. How many times have these words rung in my head lately!
- Pain can be normal
It drives me crazy, the constant message that if a woman is doing everything right, she shouldn’t feel pain! Yes, it’s true, she should not have cracked, bleeding or excruciating pain, but as her body adjusts to something she has never done before or hasn’t done in a while, some tenderness is to be expected. This notion that you’re only doing something right if it comes with ease is one that sets us up for failure in any endeavor. Learning something new comes with hard work, a learning curve and sometimes even a little pain.
- Commitment to the big picture
It’s easy to get mired in the 3 a.m. fatigue and wonder why on earth not to just give in and go with a bottle of formula. Then there is the pressure from people around you—grandma wanting to feed the baby, the friend who formula feeds and her baby is fine, your husband who would just like a little time with you to himself. It’s in these moments that keeping the “why” squarely in front is essential. In management this is called Values Based Leadership, and it has been my guide. All the pressures surrounding me are important, but my job is to keep the big picture always in the forefront—an exceptional birth experience in a safe environment for every family who allows us the privilege to care for them.
I love my new job and the challenges it brings me. Thanks blog followers for indulging me in a little reflection. True Baby-Friendly progress updates to follow soon! Exciting things are happening!!!