ARH offers new resource for momsLong-time OB nurse certified as lactation specialist

Published 9:37 pm Thursday, February 19, 2009

Joan Mills, a registered nurse with Andalusia Regional Hospital’s OB unit, recently earned her certification as a licensed lactation consultant.

Mills, a labor and delivery nurse with 23-years experience, said there are many benefits to breastfeeding newborns.

“It’s my job to meet with new moms who plan to breastfeed and educate them on the benefits,” Mills said. “And there are many — it’s been proven that moms who breastfeed have a decreased risk of breast cancer and other types of cancer; it helps them get back to their pre-pregnancy weight, not to mention that it’s cost effective.

“For babies, it protects them because they get their antibodies from their moms,” she said. “There’s a decreased risk of ear infections and stomach problems, and supposedly, it makes for a ‘smarter’ baby, according to studies.”

Mills was required to take a 40-hour course and an exam by the Academy of Lactation Policies and Practices to achieve certification.

In addition to working on the floor at ARH, Mills also works with the Covington County Extension Office in its “Healthy Start” program, where new mothers are given a four-week course to prepare for their new arrivals. Mills teaches a breastfeeding and bottle feeding class.

Additionally, she plans to use her new certification to hold more public education classes about the benefits of breastfeeding.

“Overall, (breastfeeding) makes for a healthier child,” she said. “And that’s what we all want.”

Darla Poole, ARH’s birthing center director, said Mills’ passion about the benefits of breastfeeding is “contagious.”

“I am proud to have a lactation counselor on staff,” Poole said. “As an advocate for women’s and children’s health, Joan’s energy and passion about the benefits of breastfeeding is contagious. Her enthusiasm and dedication is a credit to this hospital.”

Mills has been married to Danny Mills for the last 32 years. The couple has one child, Sabrina, who is a nurse practitioner for Dr. Samuel Gacha.