In honor of Breastfeeding Month, PAGNY is proud to feature Rochel Lieberman, CM, FACNM, LM, MS, the Midwifery Service Director, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, at NYC Health + Hospitals/South Brooklyn.
We sat down with Rochel to learn more about her career as a midwife and South Brooklyn Health's breastfeeding initiatives. Here's what she had to say:
PAGNY: Please briefly share with me the primary responsibilities and objectives of your role as the Midwifery Service Director.
Rochel: I feel privileged to be able to give a voice to the midwives who have worked here for many years with so much dedication. Since some of us work in Labor and Delivery (L&D) and others in the clinic, we often go months without seeing each other. By joining South Brooklyn Health and helping organize the service, not only do I make sure the call and clinic schedules are covered, but I also meet regularly with my staff so that everyone is well-supported and has the chance to provide input how our service could be better run.
PAGNY: What drives you to care? What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
Rochel: Midwife means "with woman," and the hallmark of midwifery care is the ability to support and care for women throughout their life span. The most rewarding part of the job, for any midwife, is watching a woman become transformed through the labor and birth of her child, and respecting her inner wisdom and body's intuition so that she can open up and birth her baby. I am floating on Cloud 9 for days after an empowering birth!
PAGNY: What are you most proud of from your time here at PAGNY and H+H/South Brooklyn?
Rochel: I am proudest of the contribution to Women's Health and Residency education that the midwives have provided. Having just celebrated their 20,000th birth, the midwives have been essential providers in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology since 1982. When our OB/GYN residency program began in 2016, the midwives, along with the attending physicians and adjunct faculty, trained the residents in the understanding of and skills needed in normal birth.
PAGNY: South Brooklyn is designated as a Baby-Friendly hospital and now features the new 11-floor Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hospital—how has the level of care increased?
Rochel: We love our Labor and Delivery Unit in the main building... and look forward to the upcoming renovations of the Women's Health Services, which is to include a redesign of L&D. And we are thrilled that all our patients have private rooms both in L&D and the Postpartum Unit, [part of the new South Brooklyn Health RBG complex], and receive individualized nursing care during their stay. The Baby-Friendly designation that we enjoy speaks volumes to the level of commitment our nurses have for undisturbed birth and bonding, and nearly all patients breastfeed immediately after the birth of their baby... The Postpartum Unit enhances this model and aligns with Baby-Friendly directives. Patients appreciate having their baby with them all the time, as it helps them transition to what life will be like at home!
PAGNY: What are some breastfeeding resources or programs that South Brooklyn provides for new mothers?
Rochel: As providers, we discuss breastfeeding
starting from the very first prenatal visit. We continue to refer to
breastfeeding throughout the patient's care, and as soon as the baby is
born, their baby is placed directly on the mother's chest for skin-to-skin
bonding. Our dedicated lactation consultant, Karen Walsh, rounds on
every patient, and even invites parents to return for consultations if
they encounter any breastfeeding challenges after discharge.
PAGNY: How does your team provide culturally tailored breastfeeding support? What considerations have to be made?
Rochel: We have midwives and other providers who reflect the diversity of our patient population. Three of our midwives are Russian-speaking, two Spanish-speaking, and one Ukrainian-speaking. Half our staff are midwives of color. But all of us are drawn to take care of every patient, regardless of race or country of origin. Our superb Language Line helps us with translation services when we cannot find someone who speaks the same language to care for the patient. And our patients appreciate our openness to learn from them as well. I am now able to say many words in Russian, Urdu, and Arabic thanks to them!
PAGNY: What is one goal you’re excited to accomplish with the midwives team next year?
Rochel: My dream is to expand the Midwifery service so that we always have 24/7 coverage in L&D and two midwives in the clinic daily. I also want to add Childbirth classes in Spanish and Russian (Karen already teaches a monthly class in English via Zoom). I would love to add a Centering Pregnancy curriculum to increase patient education during prenatal visit wait times. And I would like to expand our role as GYN providers along with OB care, which is part of our training, to provide continuity of care to our moms after they have delivered their babies, so they could return to us for Family Planning and Well Woman care.
PAGNY is proud to feature providers like Rochel Lieberman who are committed to improving health outcomes for all New Yorkers. We are thankful for Rochel's dedication to and passion for the diverse community H+H/South Brooklyn serves.