An Independent School • Grades 5-12

Emily Pease '75: Charge Nurse for Lactation Services

A three-month-old baby boy rests easy in the office of lactation consultant Emily Pease ’75, right. By this fourth visit with the nursing mom, an issue of slow weight gain has been resolved. At such times, says Pease, especially for young mothers, “One day can feel like a week.”

Charge Nurse for Lactation Services  |  Swedish Medical Center's Lytle Center for Pregnancy and Newborns

May 2019

By Jim Collins


n 2012, after the release of an anecdote filled study from Scotland questioned the health benefits of breastfeeding, Emily Pease felt compelled to write an op-ed in The Seattle Times. She wrote: “Breastfeeding may not be the magic cure for all childhood illnesses, but research definitely supports it as a significant contributor to healthier children. While no woman should be judged for her personal decisions, we have a responsibility to provide complete and accurate information, rather than anecdotes, to empower women to make decisions that are best for them, their babies, and their families.”

It’s no surprise that Pease used the publication of the Scottish study as an opportunity to teach. Pease was, and remains, a staunch advocate of breastfeeding and a firm believer in the power of education. She started Swedish Hospital’s outpatient lactation program in 2006 and was a speaker at the 2013 opening of the hospital’s Lytle Center for Pregnancy and Newborns. She continues to read widely, attend conferences, and give lectures in community and hospital settings — and give comfort and sound advice to new mothers. “There’s so much bad information out there,” she says. “Conflicting. Misinformed. Outdated. Continual education is the key.”

“For first-time mothers, the transition from focusing on pregnancy and labor to suddenly having a newborn can be absolutely shocking. In our culture, the very first time that many women have ever held an infant is when they’ve just given birth. To expecting parents, I’d say: spend some time with new parents. Talk to them. Hold their babies. It will make a difference.”

“The old grandmother’s advice to sleep when your baby sleeps is actually good advice.”

“One day can feel like a week when you’re breastfeeding a newborn. You’re sleep-deprived. Worried. You have no way to keep perspective. Don’t lose hope. Time and growth are on your side — babies are hard-wired to do this. They figure it out.”

“When you visit a close friend or family member who has just had a baby, remember that your role is to help the mom, not spend time with the baby. Clean the bathroom. Fold the laundry. Walk the dog. Be useful. Yes, you can hold the baby — while you’re letting mom finally get a minute to take a shower.”

“To new moms who have trouble asking for help, do this: Put a checklist of routine chores on the fridge so visitors will know what to do.”