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Healthy You

Grateful for You: Ja’Niece Nelson

Monday, August 01, 2022 2:22 PM

The success of the clinically integrated Breastfeeding Peer Counseling program at NorthShore Evanston Hospital clinic is fueled by the enthusiasm and commitment of peer counselor Ja’Niece Nelson, whose personal experience led her down this professional path.

HeadshotA lactation consultant Nelson worked with after the birth of her first child encouraged her to explore the field and train to become a certified Breastfeeding Peer Counselor. 

“I absolutely love what I do,” said Nelson, a mother of six children. “I can hold a three-hour conversation about lactation,” she joked. Nelson works alongside the clinical care team providing education and support to women before they give birth, while they are hospitalized and after leaving the hospital. 

The program was established by Ann Borders, MD, MPH, and Lauren Keenan-Devlin, PhD, to address breastfeeding disparities in NorthShore’s patient population.

“This is really a dream job,” said Nelson, who works in the hospital and clinic, providing regular education and making herself available for any new moms that may be having problems breastfeeding or have questions. “Sometimes it is making sure the baby is correctly positioned and sometimes they just need emotional support.

“I was blessed to have a great support system. My husband got educated, I had an amazing lactation consultant, the community at my church was a very supportive culture for moms who breastfed. But there are so many moms who don’t have that support and people who have inaccurate or outdated information,” she continued. “My heart goes out to those moms that didn’t get the support they needed.”

Nelson credits her colleagues, especially the Obstetrics & Gynecology nurses as being collaborative and supportive of her and the breastfeeding peer counseling mission. Having worked at other organizations before joining NorthShore in January, Nelson is proud to be a part of team that values educating women about breastfeeding before they give birth, supporting them in the hospital and providing follow-up care as much as possible.

“I love it when I meet with a mom who tells me they are not going to breastfeed, and after they talk with me they say they’re considering it,” said Nelson.