British Columbia

Lack of lactation consultant in Kamloops sparks online petition

A Kamloops mother has launched an online petition to bring a lactation consultant back to the region after the position was eliminated two years ago.

Position was eliminated in 2016, hospital has no plans to bring it back

New families in Kamloops have had to go without a lactation consultant at the hospital, and Kelsey Cobbe is looking to change that. (CBC News)

A Kamloops mother has launched an online petition to bring a lactation consultant to the region — something Kamloops has been lacking for two years.

Kelsey Cobbe gave birth to her daughter in June 2016, shortly after the lactation consultant position at Royal Inland Hospital was eliminated.

"There was a big gap," she told Daybreak Kamloops host Shelley Joyce.  

"I did the best I could to educate myself on breastfeeding. I had the support of my family, my doctor, I had some really wonderful nurses while I was there, but just not the specific breastfeeding support that I was needing."

Since then, she's heard from friends and other mothers in the city about their experiences with breastfeeding, many of which she said were "really quite terrible."

Lactation consultants help new families navigate the world of breastfeeding, mixing formula, breast pumping and chest feeding.

Cobbe has written letters to Interior Health requesting they reconsider the decision to take lactation consulting out of the equation for new families in the region. She got one response from the health authority, saying they'd look into it, but she hasn't heard anything since.

So now, Cobbe is taking a more aggressive approach. She'll present a letter, the petition, and testimonials to the hospital board once she feels she has enough support from the community.

"Community is what drives health authorities to make change most of the time," Cobbe said.

Kris Kristjanson, health services director at Royal Inland Hospital, said there are no plans to reinstate a lactation consultant position at the hospital.

"Across Interior Health, perinatal nurses provide breastfeeding support to all new mothers while in our hospitals," Kristjanson said in a statement to CBC.  

"Perinatal nurses are specialized frontline nurses with enhanced skills and training to support new moms breastfeeding."

Kristjanson said there are also two obstetric nurses with lactation training at the hospital, and public health nurses in the community can provide information to new families.

With files from Daybreak Kamloops