Aug 31 2012

Dr. Beverly Rossman receives the Journal of Human Lactation Award for Best Article of the Year 2011

Dr. Beverly Rossman, Research Specialist in the Rush Mothers' Milk Club, receives the Journal of Human Lactation Award for Best Article of the Year 2011 for "They've Walked in My Shoes:  Mothers of Very Low Birth Weight Infants and Their Experiences with Breastfeeding Peer Counselors in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit."

Dr. Beverly Rossman receives the Journal of Human Lactation Award for Best Article of the Year 2011

Dr. Beverly Rossman is the researcher in the Rush Mothers' Milk Club who studies the impact of the NICU-based breastfeeding peer counselors on NICU families, staff, lactation rates and other outcomes.  These breastfeeding peer counselors are all parents of former NICU infants cared for in the Rush NICU, and their own infants range in age from several months through 15 years.  They work hand-in-hand with the Rush NICU physicians, nurses and dietitians to provide evidence-based lactation care and are a major reason that the NICU lactation initiation rates exceed 95% of all new mothers.    

Dr. Rossman received the Journal of Human Lactation award for her dissertation research, which was completed in 2010 at the University of Illinois.  For this study, she enrolled mothers of very low birthweight (VLBW; <1500 g birthweight) infants cared for in the Rush NICU, all of whom had received lactation care from the breastfeeding peer counselors.  The title of the article, "They've walked in my shoes" came from the mothers' own words as they described the value of receiving advice, support and assistance from a veteran NICU mother who had previously experienced the many barriers to providing milk for a VLBW infant.  The mothers reported that the breastfeeding peer counselors never asked them to do anything they had not done themselves, and that simply seeing the peer counselors at work each day was a reminder that their lives would return to some type of "normal" in the future, as well.

Dr. Rossman, who is shown in the accompanying photograph with her award, comments:  "The best thing about receiving this award is that hundreds of people have now been introduced to our breastfeeding peer counselors. Meeting and working with the Rush Mothers’ Milk Club peer counselors has been a life changing experience for me. When my first child was born prematurely 35 years ago and was admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), my mother, who had breastfed all five of her children, was the one who gave me encouragement to continue pumping and was the one to help me put my son to my breast for the first time. Having this background and history of true mother-to-mother care to draw on helped when I first came to Rush and met the peer counselors.   I knew that they embodied the essence of mother-to-mother care that I wanted to study.   For me, they are the heroes of the Rush Mothers' Milk Club program." 

The Rush Mothers' Milk Club Breastfeeding Peer Counselors are available in the NICU every day of the week, provide early lactation care to NICU mothers in the labor and delivery area as well as in the NICU environment, and attend the Rush Mothers’ Milk Club Friday luncheon meetings.  The Friday meetings provide a lively and entertaining forum for the new NICU families to ask questions and interact with other families, as well as hearing the breastfeeding peer counselors share their “tips” on pumping, or just share stories about their own babies’ progress.

Dr. Rossman has published several other peer-reviewed manuscripts and book chapters on Breastfeeding Peer Counselors.  She is currently at work on preparing a new manuscript from her most recent study in with mothers of VLBW infants in the Rush NICU:  "The Meaning of Milk for Mothers of VLBW Infants". 

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