Everyday Heroes 2018: Lynda Swearingen

Everyday Hero Lynda Swearingen, a lead lactation nurse at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, coaches mothers and their partners through the breastfeeding process.
Everyday Hero Lynda Swearingen, a lead lactation nurse at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, coaches mothers and their partners through the breastfeeding process.

When Lynda Swearingen was 10, her brother was born.

A neighbor was watching Swearingen and called the hospital to see how things were going with her brother and mother.

The baby was just born.

“At that time, I thought, ‘That’s what I wanna do. I wanna be in the room when the babies are born,’ ” she said.

She knew what nursing was, but didn’t know what being in the delivery room would entail or what her role would be. After going off to college to become a nurse, she worked in obstetrics for 20 years, helping mothers bring babies into the world.

But during that time, she continued to take extra courses to increase her knowledge and qualifications. Twelve years ago, she decided to focus on lactation and became certified as a lactation consultant.

Now, she helps mothers feed their babies at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington.

Swearingen’s co-worker Mary Terry described her as someone who would bend over backward for co-workers and patients alike, one who has a great personality, is really bubbly and passionate about what she does for a living.

“She wants patients to feel individually cared for and does everything she can to make that happen,” Terry said.

Swearingen spearheaded the hospital’s efforts to develop a breast milk depot. Hospitals typically have breast milk donated for pre-term babies, but Swearingen and Terry wrote a proposal and put together a policy that was supported by the hospital’s administration to secure more donated milk from a pasteurizing operation.

This allowed the hospital to supply more donor milk to more babies. Swearingen did all the research to find out what would be required of the hospital to make it happen.

Zach Swearingen said his mom genuinely loves what she does, and he can’t say that about everybody.

“I’ve gone and seen her at work,” Zach said. “People are just very happy to see her and have her help them. They are very moved by the experience they have with her, and I really do mean that.”

Both parents can feel inadequate, Lynda Swearingen said.

“I try to help them see what abilities they have,” she said. “I want moms to know they already know how to do this stuff and give them encouragement so they have the confidence that they can take care of their baby.”

Lynda Swearingen coached one mother on lactation after three pregnancies. She had been with the mom for some of the most challenging times of the mom’s life on three occasions. But with the family now complete, it was a bittersweet parting of ways between nurse and mom.

“It was such a privilege to be with her for all three kids,” Lynda Swearingen said. “You watch the making of a mom [to their full development.]”

Lynda Swearingen said her approach for all mothers and families she helps is inspired by a Mother Theresa quote.

“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier,” she said. 

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