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Reproductive Health Matters

Make sure sore nipples don’t put an end to breastfeeding your child

Sore, painful or even cracked nipples are a common reason why a new mother may stop nursing her child. With the right kind of help and support you can often avoid or remedy problems. Our IBCLC lactation consultants weigh in on with tips to help you.

Why and when breastfeeding results in sore nipples

When breastfeeding you may feel strong sensations as your baby begins to nurse, but pain when breastfeeding isn’t okay. Often nipples become sore within 3-7 days of the start of breastfeeding, usually because your baby isn’t positioned or latched quite right.

Arizona Department of Health Services offers a 24-hour Breastfeeding Hotline 1-800-833-4642.You may have seen a lactation consultant in the hospital or birth center and talked about latch, but a few sleep deprived days into motherhood and it’s easy to forget and important to check in and review if you are having some difficulty. If one or both nipples begin to crack or bleed seek help as soon as possible. The lactation consultant can help you correctly position baby.

If your baby doesn’t seem settled after a feed, or your nipples are flattened or white these maybe signs that baby isn’t latching effectively.


What can you do at home to prevent and treat sore nipples?

  • Check Latch on and positioning with an IBCLC.
  • Nurse on the side that is least sore side first, if possible.
  • Apply warm, moist compresses to your nipples after feedings, this is comforting and removes residue of milk and bacteria before applying ointments.
  • Try hand expressing a little breastmilk and applying to your nipples to soothe the nipples and reduce the chances of infection (human milk has antibacterial properties.)
  • Try keeping nipples covered with a medical grade (100% pure) modified lanolin ointment or hydrogel dressing to encourage cracks to heal without scabbing or crusting. Gently blot off nipple with warm compress before applying any ointments.
  • If your breasts are overfull, hand express to soften areola prior to feeding baby.
  • Call Breastfeeding Support Program ( 324-5730) for other tips on nipple healing.
  • If pumping make sure you are using the right size flange and pressure. Pumping should not be painful.
  • Don’t do the following

  • Don’t apply moist tea bags to the nipples. This folk remedy has shown to have an astringent effect that may promote drying and cracking.
  • Don’t use a hair dryer on sore nipples. This promotes drying and further cracking.
  • Don’t stop breastfeeding
  • Resources at TMC for Women

    TMC offers outpatient breastfeeding support services, whether you deliver at TMC or not. 1. Free weekly breastfeeding support group for new moms. Hosted weekly by a certified lactation consultant. Classes are held every Monday from 10-11:30 a.m. in the Canyon Room.
    2. Outpatient consultations with an IBCLC-certified nurse (by appointment only)
    For more information on any of these services, please call 324-5730

    Tucson Medical Center has the unique status of being the only hospital in Southern Arizona to receive the International Board Certified Lactation Consultant Care Recognition Award for its stellar support programs for nursing moms. Tucson Medical Center strives to promote healthy families in all ways possible. With what we know about breast milk and immunity, we encourage mothers to breast feed. The lactation consultants of TMC for Women provide exceptional support in establishing a satisfying, sustainable nursing relationship whenever possible.

    Advice to a birth partner

    Whether you’re the birth partner of the pregnant mom, a friend or a family member, being asked to be present at the birth is an incredible honor and for many one of the most memorable experiences of their life. If you’ve been asked to be the birth partner we have some tips:
    Advice to a birth partner

    1. Take a childbirth class

      Take a class with your partner beforehand. We offer many options to fit different schedules.

    2. Talk before

      Talk with the mom-to-be about her hopes, expectations and fears. If she has made a birth plan ask if you can read over it.

    3. Create a calm and comfortable environment in the delivery room.

      Take a tour of Maternity Services beforehand. Will you need alternative lighting? Perhaps something to play music on?

    4. Know what to expect

      Don’t wait until the night before the due date to read up on all things pregnancy including the different stages of labor! And don’t not read sections of the book because you think they aren’t part of the birth plan. Birth plans are merely plans, be ready for everything.

    5. Respect her.

      Let her know what is going on, especially if something is not going to plan and make sure she knows what the staff recommends.

    6. Do not minimize her pain

      Watching someone you care for in pain is difficult, and it is a natural response to want to stop that. Do not minimize her pain, but also accept that pain is a natural part of birth and focus on supporting her with coping techniques.

    7. Don’t take it personally

      Birth is an incredible positive experience, but it is not without pain and discomfort. Be understanding and recognize that this can result in atypical behavior for the woman in labor.

    8. Think upright!

      Provide her with support to be upright during labor.

    9. Fetch and Carry

      Make sure she can access water, that she has a pillow for her head or underneath her knees, be the fetch and carry person.

    10. Stay calm

      Even if you don’t feel particularly calm, oozing a sense of calm can help.

    Who is going to be by your side when you give birth?

    Beyond the midwife or physician, and other medical staff, having someone you know really well and can feel relaxed and comfortable with during childbirth can provide immeasurable support. They can hold your hand, massage your shoulders (although you may find you don’t want to be touched at all), help move you into positions you may have practiced in childbirth classes and remind you to breathe during contractions. But who to chose?

    Once upon a time a birth companion was not allowed to be present in the delivery room. Today, medical emergencies excluded, you can choose your partner, a family member, a friend or perhaps a doula, a professional support for women in childbirth.

    birth partner, spouse, friend, family, doula

    1. Your partner

      Today most partners are present at their child’s birth and for many it is a defining moment for them and their relationship with their children and the mother of their child. However, you or your partner may feel that an additional support person might help.

    2. Family members or friends

      Whether it’s your mom, your aunt, your sister or a close friend you need to know them well enough to know that you can be completely relaxed and comfortable with them and that they will respect your wishes.

    3. A Doula

      A doula is a trained professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth. Doulas are not medical professionals. Some doulas provide emotional and practical support during the postpartum period.

      Certification for doulas usually includes multiple workshops, readings and childbirth education, as well as requirements to attend a number of births and being evaluated by a midwife or doctor present.
      For more information about doula’s check out the DONA International Birth Doula FAQ.  You can find doulas offering services in town through DONA’s directory search. 

    What can your birth partner do?

    1. Advocate

      Make sure you talk before about what type of birth you would like and what you’d prefer to avoid so they can support you in those efforts. If you have made a birth plan, go over it together.

    2. Be there for you

      Whether it’s just chatting with you during the early stages or sitting quietly, this can be a long process.

    3. Make your environment comfortable.

      From massaging your back, to getting you water, plumping pillows, to providing support as you walk your birth partner can make your environment more comfortable.

    4. Breath with you

      It’s especially helpful if your birth partner attended childbirth classes with you, they can remind you about the relaxation and breathing techniques.

    5. Cut the umbilical cord

      Your birth partner may be able to cut the umbilical cord – you can talk to your doctor or midwife about this.

    Whoever you choose remember it’s ultimately your decision! #birthpartner #birth #pregnancy Click To Tweet

    Work and Breastfeeding -Yes You Can!

    If you’re heading back to work and planning on pumping to provide breast milk for your child here are some tips to support your pumping from our lactation consultants:

    • Get help early and often until breastfeeding is going smoothly.
    • Try to delay returning to work until six weeks after delivery, and longer, if possible, since the work of breastfeeding lessens around this time.
    • A quality breast pump that fits well around the nipples and provides various adequate pressures and variable speeds can help a mother extract her milk more efficiently.
    • Learn to “let down” to the pump: warm compresses, warm flanges (the plastic funnels that come with the pump), massage and hand expression can help your milk flow out more easily. Use visualization, scents, imagery and distraction to aid relaxation.
    • A breastfeeding mother can hand express before and after pumping sessions to collect more milk.
      Click to watch Stanford School of Medicine’s 10-minute video “How to Use Your Hands When You Pump” for ways to increase milk production without medication. (
    • Get breastfeeding off to a good start by working on problems with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, or IBCLC, who can help you with difficulty latching, pain or low milk supply.

    tips for working breastfeeding moms, work and breastfeeding

    Not sure you are pumping enough milk?

    It’s a common concern for mothers who are breastfeeding. Our lactation consultants suggest that you track your numbers for a week.
    • How much milk did you pump or hand express in that week?
    • How much breast milk did your baby drink while you were at work that week?
    • How many times did you move your milk (breastfeed, pump or hand express) per day during that week?

    Add in more pump sessions if you are not meeting your goal. If you need more milk, power pump once a day — pump 15 minutes on, 15 minutes off several times in a row.

    Daycare Tips:

    • Try not to have baby fed within the hour of mom returning from work.
    • Give a small snack to hold baby off until mom gets back to baby for feeding.
    • Pace bottle feeding to increase the length of bottle feeding to about 20 minutes.

    Worried about pumping while at work? Read this post about why supporting breastfeeding mothers is good for business.

    Tucson Medical Center Breastfeeding Support Program (520) 324-5730

    At TMC for Women

    TMC Breastfeeding Support Services is dedicated to helping you meet your breastfeeding goals, whether you deliver at TMC or somewhere else. We serve clients at all stages of pregnancy and breastfeeding. Our lactation consultants are all internationally board-certified hospital-based nurses who ensure that new moms receive the most up-to-date care. We are dedicated to helping you achieve breastfeeding success, before, during and after your delivery.
    TMC for Women’s Breastfeeding Support Program – Call 324-5730
    TMC for Women’s Breastfeeding Support Group – Every Monday from 10-11:30am in the Canyon Conference Room near the SouthEast entrance.


    La Leche League’s Work and Breastfeeding provides lots of great articles on the topic provides a host of information for both employers and employees
    In the Literature:
    The Milk Memos – At times hilarious, sometimes poignant and always insightful resource that started as a plea from one new mom sitting in a lactation room at IBM to whoever might be also using the lactation room.

    Ouch! Mastitis – tips on prevention & treatment

    Breastfeeding is cheap, efficient, and a solid nutritious choice for you and your baby with all kinds of positive side effects for mom! But sometimes there can be a little hiccup along the way. Mastitis affects 33% of breastfeeding women, know the symptoms so you can catch and treat it as quickly as possible.

    The signs and symptoms of mastitis:

    • Fever of 101°F or greater
    • Flu-like aches and chills
    • Red, tender, hot, swollen, wedge-shaped area of the breast
    • Pain or burning while breastfeeding or all the time.
    • Breast swelling, tender or warm to the touch

    mastitisWhy do mothers develop mastitis?

    There have been limited studies of lactation mastitis, but generally researchers focus on two potential risk factors

    1. Poor breastfeeding technique – Get the latch right
      If you’re struggling with breastfeeding you’re probably fed up of people talking to you about latch! Improper latching of baby to mom’s nipple is at the root of many a new mother’s frustration. Poor technique can lead to poor drainage of a duct, insufficient emptying of the breast, milk stasis, and cracks or fissures of the nipple. These, it is hypothesized, provide an avenue for infection.
    2. Lowered immune system response
      Guess what, you’re probably sleep deprived, and maybe a little stressed out? You’re not alone. Those factors can reduce your immune system response to a duct infection.
    3. Delay in feeding, busy schedule, stress can also lead to an occurrence of mastitis

    Whatever the cause of the mastitis you need to see a medical professional. Antibiotics can help address the infection. ( Antibiotics are usually prescribed for a 10-14 day course. It is important to take the full course of antibiotics even if you start to feel better). Also coordinate with a lactation consultant to address what led up to the infection.

    What can I do to alleviate the symptoms?

    1. Continue to breastfeed on the affected side as much as you can. This can reduce the tenderness of your breast.
    2. Apply a warm compress
    3. Massage the affected part of the breast. It will help speed the healing process. Pump to help drain the breast after applying warm compresses. Rest, fluids and frequent breastfeeding will help you heal and resolve mastitis. try to reduce your stress or workload until you feel better.  Seek help from friends/family to allow you more time to rest.
    4. Wear a supportive bra. (Your bra should be well fitting, not overly tight causing creases to skin and may be best to avoid underwire bras.)
    5. Make sure your baby latches on well. (Check with the lactation consultants)
    6. Change positions every time you breastfeed.

    Never fear, help is here

    • Nursing assistance during your TMC for Women hospital stay, offered seven days a week

    TMC offers outpatient breastfeeding support services, whether you deliver at TMC for Women or not.

    • Free weekly breastfeeding support group for new moms. Hosted weekly by a certified lactation consultant. Classes are held every Monday from 10-11:30 a.m. in the Canyon Room.
    • Outpatient consultations with an IBCLC-certified nurse (by appointment only. Call 324-5730. BCBS covered)

    For more information on any of these services, please call 324-5730

    Arizona Department of Health Services Breastfeeding 24/7 Hotline: 1-800-833-4642  Breastfeeding and Motherhood resource line for any mother or provider in Arizona


    TMC baby provides life-saving stem cells to a child with leukemia through cord blood donation program

    Somewhere in the Tucson area, there’s a 10-month-old baby who was born at Tucson Medical Center last spring and provided life-saving stem cells to a patient who had no other treatment options.

    And somewhere in Colorado, that patient – a child who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia – received the transfusion he or she so desperately needed.

    AZPCBP_2ccThe match was made possible because of the Arizona Public Cord Blood Program, which TMC joined in October 2014. The program also includes three Phoenix-area hospitals and gives expectant parents the option to donate their baby’s umbilical cord blood – which is rich in stem cells – if they’re not going to pay to have it privately banked and don’t want it to go to waste. Donated cord blood is listed on the Be The Match national registry.

    Since the program’s inception in 2011, 30 life-saving matches have been made including this one – the first match for TMC.


    Maya Adams

    The baby was delivered by Maya Adams, a midwife with El Rio Community Health Center. “It gives me goose bumps to think how we have been able to give hope to that family in Colorado,” said Adams, who credits the donor family and TMC for the match. “I’m just happy to have helped make a difference.”

    And for Adams, the news is bittersweet. Her father passed away from leukemia a year and a half ago after he ran out of treatment options.

    “This family in Colorado is so blessed to have the opportunity to have a different outcome than my father had,” she said.

    Nurse Erica Schroyer and cord blood consenter Ali Baker were also part of the collection.


    Erica Schroyer

    When Schroyer received word about the match, she was really moved. “Our nursing staff saves lives and changes lives for the better every day, and it is a blessing every time. With the cord blood donation program, we offer our patient families that incredible opportunity to save a life as well.”

    Baker added, “I was so excited to learn that one of our cord blood units was used for transplant! It is so encouraging to know that the selfless generosity of this donor family combined with our efforts has made all the difference in the world to a leukemia patient and their family. The positive ripple effect our program creates is truly immeasurable, and I’m looking forward to more matches in 2016.”


    Ali Baker

    According to Be The Match, cord blood is rich in stem cells and can often be used in place of bone marrow. A transplant replaces a patient’s unhealthy cells with healthy ones. Bone marrow requires a near perfect match – seven or eight out of eight markers. But cord blood only requires four out of six markers be matched. Also with cord blood, if a matching unit is identified, the patient can receive that blood in mere days. With bone marrow, it may take weeks or more as the donor is located and the preparation work is done. And finally, cord blood transplant recipients are less likely to get graft-versus-host disease after their transplant. The disease presents itself in the form of a rash all over the patient’s body.

    “We are so appreciative to Maya and all of our providers who have helped make this program so successful, so quickly,” said Kristen Wilt, TMC cord blood coordinator. “As part of this program, we are asking providers to collect this blood out of the goodness of their hearts. While it only takes a few minutes to do, it does require extra effort and skill. This match is proof that investing in that little extra time after delivery can have a tremendous impact.“

    The program is free for patients, and everything is kept confidential. Since a patient’s privacy is protected, no other details about the baby or the recipient will be made available.

    The Save the Cord Foundation, a Tucson-based nonprofit, is proud to partner with the program and be the voice for unbiased cord blood education and awareness.

    More information about the program can be found by clicking here.

    Click here to see a new video about Dylan Praskins, an Arizona boy whose life was saved because of donated cord blood.

    Prenatal tips for protecting your unborn baby from infection

    We asked Dr. Moira Richards, neonatologist and Medical Director of TMC for Children, for her top tips for to prevent infection in unborn and newborn children including prenatal care.

    1. During pregnancy get good prenatal care

    2. Get screened for Group B Strep in your third trimester

    Group B streptococcal (group B strep) infection is a serious bacterial infection that is a leading cause of death and disability in newborns. Twenty-five percent of women test positive for group B Strep. Group B strep bacteria normally exist in the intestine, vagina, or rectum and women with Group B Strep may have no symptoms of being infected. Forty years ago about fifty percent of newborns with group B strep infection died. Today, due to early recognition and aggressive treatment of the infection, far fewer cases end in death-

    Pregnant women with group B strep infection or who are carriers of group B strep will be given antibiotics prior to delivery to prevent transmission of the bacteria to the newborn during delivery. Women who are pregnant and who have previously given birth to a child with group B strep infection or who have had tests that show they carry the bacteria, should also be treated with antibiotics. More information on Group B Strep is available at our Health Encyclopedia.

    Having a baby by c-section does not prevent the transmission of group B strep bacteria. Click To Tweet

    3. Breastfeed

    Breastmilk provides mom’s antibodies to the baby protecting them from infections. Formula does not offer this protection. If you need help with breastfeeding please connect with a lactation consultant.

    4. Limit exposure of your newborn to people, especially during RSV and flu season

    Dr. Richards suggests limiting a newborn’s exposure to the outside world for the first two months. During RSV season, October through March in Tucson, Dr.Richards emphasizes this practice. For most adults RSV might result in a cold, perhaps one that last a little longer than usual, but in a newborn an RSV infection can be serious. The fluid that is produced in the lungs during an RSV infection can sometimes obstruct an infant’s breathing. RSV is passed very easily, by contact. Want to know about the symptoms of RSV and what to do if you suspect your baby has RSV?

    5. Wash hands with soap and water, limit antibacterial cleaner use

    The Center for Disease Control and Prevention advises using soap and water predominately rather than antibacterial cleansers.

    Additional Tips from the CDC:

    Cytomegalovirus (CMV)

    A pregnant woman infected with CMV can pass the virus to her baby during pregnancy. Most babies born with CMV infection will be fine and will not have symptoms or develop health problems. However, some babies will have permanent problems, such as hearing or vision loss or mental disabilities, at birth, or develop problems later on.
    If you’re pregnant or planning a pregnancy, the best way to protect your baby from CMV is to protect yourself.
    – Wash your hands often with soap and water especially after changing a child’s diapers, feeding, wiping their nose or mouth, and touching their toys, pacifier, or other objects.
    – Don’t share food, drinks, eating utensils, or a toothbrush with a child.
    – Do not put a child’s pacifier in your mouth.
    – Use soap and water or a disinfectant to clean toys, countertops, and other surfaces that may have a child’s saliva or urine on them.
    – Avoid contact with a child’s saliva when kissing or snuggling.

    Protect yourself and your baby against Listeriosis

    Listeriosis is a rare but serious infection caused by eating food contaminated with bacteria called Listeria. Listeriosis mostly affects pregnant women, newborns, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems. Pregnant women are about 13 times more likely than the general population to get listeriosis. About 1 in 6 of the patients who are diagnosed with listeriosis are pregnant women.
    Infected pregnant women may experience fever and other nonspecific symptoms, such as fatigue and aches. The disease can also be very serious for unborn babies or newborns. Listeriosis during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, or infection in newborns.
    You can protect yourself from listeriosis by avoiding:

    -hot dogs and delicatessen meats unless they have been heated or reheated until steaming hot,
    -soft cheeses unless they are made from pasteurized milk,
    -raw or undercooked fish or seafood, such as sushi or sashimi,
    -raw (unpasteurized) milk,
    -refrigerated pates and meat spreads, and
    -refrigerated smoked seafood, unless it has been heated until steaming hot.

    Baby Hailey helps us reach 1000 units of publicly donated umbilical cord blood!

    1000 cord blood unitTMC and the Save the Cord Foundation are proud to announce that TMC for Women has collected the 1,000th unit of umbilical cord blood as part of the Arizona Public Cord Blood Program. TMC is one of four hospitals in Arizona, and the only hospital in Southern Arizona, to give expectant parents the option to donate their baby’s umbilical cord blood as part of this program.

    AZPCBP_2ccSince the program’s inception, 28 cord blood units have been selected for patients in need of a life-saving stem cell transplant.

    Donated cord blood that meets a certain set of criteria will be included on the Be The Match national registry where it could save the life of someone with a life-threatening disease who needs a stem cell transplant.

    Noncontroversial umbilical cord blood is a precious resource to a patient in need of a life-saving stem cell transplant. This blood is rich in stem cells, which can renew themselves and grow into mature blood cells. It’s been proven to cure and treat as many as 80 diseases, and can be used for transplantation for adult and pediatric patients with leukemia, lymphoma and other life-threatening blood diseases. More than 22,000 patients around the world have received transplants from donations to public cord blood banks.

    Donating cord blood does not hurt the mother or the baby. It does not change a woman’s labor or delivery, and donation to a public bank is free. TMC started offering this program Oct. 1, 2014.

    cord blood donation

    Amy Vasquez and Chris Colbert with baby Hailey

    “We are thrilled at the success of our program in its first year,” said Kristen Wilt, TMC cord blood coordinator. “We feel so fortunate to have the support of Tucson’s nonprofit community hospital, two dedicated consenters who are on the front line of this program, and wonderful physicians who champion this effort. They take the time to collect this blood because they believe in our mission and know it’s better than having it discarded as medical waste.”The 1,000th unit of cord blood was collected from Hailey Vasquez who was born at TMC for Women on November 5th to parents Amy Vasquez and Chris Colbert. They said when they were approached by one of TMC’s cord blood consenters, their decision to participate in the program was easy. “I’m amazed that something that is so quick, easy and safe to collect may be so beneficial to somebody else,” said Colbert. “I’m in awe that my beautiful, healthy daughter who just came into the world may save someone’s life someday, just by being born.”

    The Save the Cord Foundation, a Tucson-based nonprofit, is proud to partner with the program and be the voice for unbiased cord blood education and awareness.

    “Establishing this program at TMC is a dream come true,” said Charis Ober, founder of the Save the Cord Foundation. “On the Be The Match registry, there is a significant shortage of blood from Hispanic, black, mixed ethnicity and Native Americans. The demographic TMC serves, and the number of babies delivered there – more than 5,500 in 2014 – has the potential to make a significant positive impact on the national registry, essentially giving more people a better chance at finding a match. This program is our passion, and we couldn’t ask for a better hospital partner.”

    TMC is one of four Arizona hospitals supported by the Arizona Department of Health Services and the Arizona Public Cord Blood Program.

    More information about the program can be found at

    19 lives saved, and counting: Cord Blood Awareness Month draws attention to benefits of Arizona Public Cord Blood Program

    proclamation cord blood awareness month ArizonaArizona Governor Doug Ducey has signed a proclamation making the month of July Cord Blood Awareness Month. The proclamation generates attention about stem-cell-rich umbilical cord blood and how the Arizona Public Cord Blood Program, which Tucson Medical Center is a part of, is saving lives.

    Each year, thousands of patients in the United States are diagnosed with a blood cancer or other life-threatening disease. Umbilical cord blood is a prime source of blood stem cells and can be a precious resource to a patient in need of a stem-cell transplant, since the cells can renew themselves and grow into mature blood cells. The advancement has proven to cure and treat as many as 80 diseases. The blood can be collected, stored and made available for transplant to children and adults with life-threatening diseases such as leukemia or lymphoma.

    TMC is one of four hospitals in the state, and the only hospital in Southern Arizona, to offer this option to expectant parents as part of this program. The program also partners with the Tucson-based, nonprofit Save the Cord Foundation, which provides education. The Arizona Public Cord Blood Program is funded by the Arizona Biomedical Research Commission. There is no cost to families who choose to publicly donate their baby’s cord blood through this program.

    “This proclamation highlights a special program that provides a lifeline to patients in need,” the governor said. “The generous gift of cord blood increases the odds of survival for cancer patients and gives researchers a chance to find a cure for genetic disease.”

    Collecting the blood does not hurt the mother or the baby or change a woman’s labor or delivery. “This is a way for parents to give the gift of health to others in need,” said TMC Cord Blood Coordinator Kristen Wilt. “It’s one of the easiest ways to make a positive impact on the lives of others.”

    One Arizona mom calls the decision to publicly donate a baby’s cord blood, “The best gift a mother can give another mother.”

    Since the program’s inception in 2011, 19 cords have been selected for transplant in Arizona, meaning 19 lives have been saved. Since TMC for Women signed on to the program in October 2014, roughly 600 units of cord blood have been collected.

    For more information about how to donate your newborn’s cord blood at TMC, please click here.

    Paralympian Lisa Czechowski on Facing the Challenge of Preeclampsia

    paralympian Lisa Czechowski, TMC for WomenAs a Paralympian in the sport of goalball, Lisa Czechowski is used to conquering challenges.

    Although she is legally blind, that doesn’t stop her from throwing her body down on a hard court floor to block a ball, lobbed at a speed of up to 30 miles an hour and outfitted with bells, before the other team can make a goal.

    She’s so good at the sport, she was part of the Paralympic team that won the gold in 2008. And she’s a silver medal winner in discus, which helps explains her strength and speed in throwing the goalball. Her husband, Jake, is no stranger to pressure himself, as the national team’s assistant coach.

    But the challenge of an early delivery of their first baby was one that they had never encountered before.

    One June 30, 2014, the athlete had anticipated having a routine day of running errands, including picking up a comfy rocking chair as a finishing touch for the nursery. Instead, when she and her husband went for their 36-week prenatal checkup, they found her blood pressure inordinately high. Lisa had preeclampsia. The only cure for preeclampsia is delivery of the baby and left untreated it can have serious, even fatal consequences for mother and child.

    The couple rushed to the hospital without even having the exam. For her safety, Baby Jay would be induced that day.

    By nature, the 35-year-old Lisa is a planner – and this was not part of the plan. Thoughts raced through her head: What would an early delivery mean for the baby? How was labor going to go? Who would take care of the dogs at home while she and her husband, Jake, were at the hospital?

    TMC for Women, lisa Czechowski, goalball, paralympian“As first-time parents, we had a lot of questions,” Lisa recounted, especially since the baby wanted to take his time and seemed to have no interest in meeting the world just yet. “What really helped is that everyone we dealt with, from the nurses to the lactation consultants, were supportive and knowledgeable.”

    The care staff also worked hard to accommodate her visual needs. They walked Lisa through the procedures as they were happening so she wasn’t surprised if they touched her, for example. And since Lisa is very sensitive to light, the nursing staff taped down the light switch so no one could come in the room and accidentally flip it on. “Those little things were really so important to help me during a time of such uncertainty.”

    What else helped? The USA Women’s National Team was in Finland playing at the World Championships. Jake laughs at recalling his wife demanding, “Check the score!” between contractions.

    Jay came at 5 pounds 10 ounces and is doing great. He’s a calm, mellow baby who will get lots of love from Jake’s nearby brother, with Lisa starting her new season and the couple anticipating traveling again for tournaments.

    Lisa has advice for other first-time parents. “Be patient. Ask for help. You have tremendous resources here at the hospital, so don’t be afraid to tap into their guidance and knowledge. And finally, love your gift!”

    Making HerStory – Whether a woman is having her first child or a life-saving surgery, she deserves a welcoming and safe environment with state-of-the-art services and a caring touch. Making HerStory is the campaign for the new Joel M. Childers, M.D., Women’s Center to make this environment a reality at TMC for Women and in our community. 

    TMC is Make HerStory donation buttoncommitted to providing a lifetime of care For Women, About Women. Join us in Making HerStory