They say it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert at something – so let’s do some quick math.
Lorraine Welker – a breastfeeding educator in our Richmond market – teaches classes to new and expecting mothers that cover the benefits and management of breastfeeding, how to assess if breastfeeding is going well, potential problems and returning to work.
The classes are around three hours long.
She’s been at it for over 40 years.
So, let’s see. 10,000 hours… divided by 40 years… carry the two…
Yeah, she’s an expert when it comes to breastfeeding.
“Working with hundreds of mothers in private practice has helped give me the knowledge to know what to expect in the early days of breastfeeding,” Lorraine says. “In fact, I was in the first group of participants to become an international board-certified lactation consultant. That knowledge is essential to teaching breastfeeding.”
Lorraine has seen quite a bit change during her time in the field. With each mother, she does her best to adapt to the individual she is assisting and create an effective, pleasant experience for them.
“Breastfeeding became a lost art 30 to 50 years ago when the percentage of mothers who breastfed was low,” Lorraine explains. “The percentage of women who start to breastfeed is now in the 90s. However, many of these women have mothers with no knowledge of breastfeeding. What information they may have may be outdated. Therefore, it’s important for expectant mothers to hear knowledge-based information from qualified educators.”
Lorraine believes it’s important to start the breastfeeding journey early and often. She has helped created processes within our hospitals to ensure everyone is starting off on the right foot.
“Our hospital now practices the ‘magic hour’ where babies are put directly on mom’s chest,” Lorraine says. “This promotes early breastfeeding and bonding. We also have lactation consultants on staff to help mothers, and most of our nurses are educated in breastfeeding techniques.”
Like with most people who devote their life to educating others, there’s a personal reward at the end of each tunnel.
“I love the interaction of our students when they learn something new,” Lorraine shares.
And although her passion is helping her patients learn more effective ways to breastfeed, Lorraine also goes beyond that to educating families on other aspects of raising their kids. She says that working with her fellow instructors makes the work easier and much more rewarding.
“All of our instructors support breastfeeding in all of our classes. The only class that may not touch on breastfeeding is our infant CPR class,” she says. “We are all willing to answer questions for each other and learn from each other.”
Lorraine adds, “I would like to thank my fellow instructors for the support they have given me for the almost 17 years I have been teaching for Bon Secours.”