Enbridge Famous 5 Speaker Night with Stephanie Harries
At age 26, Stephanie Harries has a job few others in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo have ever hear of – Baby Friendly Coordinator.
In her job with Public Health, she is tasked with promoting breastfeeding and is working towards having the program accredited. She enjoys this role since she is working on a project that both benefits the community and allows her to grow as a person.
Stephanie began her career as a registered nurse and has always worked with babies, firstly, in neonatal intensive care. Nursing was the right choice for Stephanie who is people oriented, and has a passion for education. She enjoys being able to share education that allows people to make best decisions for their health thus increasing their quality of life.
Stephanie saw herself as a quiet person and not at all the type to be in a leadership role; that all changed after she got her first taste of formal leadership as a clinical nurse educator and leader in Vancouver. “When I first took on a leadership role, I had a lot of hesitation, since taking on more responsibility; I realize more people are watching what you are doing.” “By doing, you learn you have a lot of potential and you should never be scared to get more involved or more active.” “After having being involved, I want to do more and can’t get enough.”
When asked why breastfeeding so important for women and babies, Stephanie gives three reasons:
- Breast feeding is essential to normal growth since it builds immunity. Also, breast milk changes/adapts as the needs of the infants’ change.
- History – mammals and humans have been breastfed since existence.
- Benefits to Mom’s, breastfeeding helps to lose pregnancy weight, reduces risks of cancer, plus establishes the bonding experience between Mom and baby and nurtures attachment.
Although she is quick to add, for those who can’t breastfeed, there are supports and options available. “It’s all about defining the Mom’s own success – what works for them is the most important thing,” says Stephanie.
Stephanie enjoys making health care better for the population. It’s very rewarding that you are making a difference and making things better, bit by bit, says Stephanie.