LPN helps OBGYN patients by setting them at ease
by James Coburn
Brie Huffman has a knack for identifying with her patients well and putting people at ease. She takes care of OBGYN patients in the clinic of Dr. Cunningham at Mercy Edmond I-35.
“Most of the things they go through, I’ve been through. I’ve been a mother,” said Huffman, LPN. “I’ve had some of the problems they’re suffering from, and some of the surgeries they’re about to endure I’ve had myself.”
A licensed practical nurse, Huffman has worked with expectant mothers for the last 10 years. The first eight years of her career were spent gaining experience in a hospital, long-term care and home health.
She earned her nursing degree at the Moore/Norman Technology Center and has been an LPN licensed in good standing for 18 years.
Empathy comes easy for Huffman as she provides compassionate care for the women she helps. It’s also rewarding for her to take care of new moms who experience the miracle of birth. Some of the expectant mothers have never had children before.
“Common questions are obviously about symptoms they have never experienced in their life,” Huffman said. “Pregnancy is a huge change for your body, and there are many things that are normal, that are also alarming to them. So my biggest job is to relieve their fears.”
Husbands will frequently accompany their wives to the clinic where they are made to feel welcome. They love to hear their baby’s heart beat or hear the ultrasound when we do a new OB visit,” Huffman said. “Husbands get to see their baby for the first time. It’s really powerful. We see husbands tear-up a lot. It’s just great.”
Mothers will usually return to the clinic about a month after their babies are born. Mercy likes to retain its patients by having them come back every year, she said.
“We can monitor their overall OBGYN health every year with annual exams or other needs that may arise if they’re having problems, or if they need guidance on being pregnant in the future,” she continued.
Huffman said she loves Mercy’s mission of providing compassionate care. It is the core value that she carries as a nurse. Huffman wants to help people and to understand that she does not come from a place of judgement, she said.
“I come from a place of love in the care that I provide to my patients every single day,” she explained.
Huffman also helps to educate Dr. Cunningham’s patients about the benefits of breastfeeding infants. There is a packet explaining the benefits of lactation that is given to patients.
“Dr. Cunningham doesn’t believe in giving them formula to start out with,” Huffman said. “We encourage throughout the pregnancy breastfeeding.”
Women who are concerned about any difficulties they experience with breastfeeding their babies are referred to a lactation consultant through Mercy. Breastfeeding helps to enrich the immune system of a baby. Breastfeeding also helps with bonding, she said.
Smoking during pregnancy is also discouraged. Expectant mothers are encouraged not to smoke and are provided resources about smoking cessation. They are given a number to call, 1-800-QUIT-NOW to help them.
“They’ll provide nicotine patches. They’ll provide counseling and services to actually move them through the process of quitting,” Huffman said. “Fortunately very few of my patients come in from smoking, or if they did smoke before they got pregnant, they quit or are quitting.”
Huffman has seen a lot of positive outcomes among former smokers who quit smoking for their own sake and for the health of their babies. They begin to lookout for themselves more so they can be more attentive to their baby.
Nicotine has an impact on the fetus as it matures. Smoking incurs the risk of low birth weight babies. It can cause respiratory problems at birth as the pre-term labor risk increases. Some expectant mothers may not even be aware of the dangers that smoking imposes on a baby’s health, so education is key. And Huffman loves successful outcomes among her patients.
“It’s rewarding. A lot of people have jobs and go home without really caring about what they do,” said Huffman, who likes to work out during her spare time. “I care about what I do. I go home every day feeling fulfilled. I feel I have made a difference in someone’s life. If I can make this experience that is awkward and frightening, less awkward and frightening for them, they usually leave here with a smile on their face. They feel comfortable they were taken good care of.”