ANMC volunteers make gifts for breastfeeding women and their families

May 21, 2019

At the Alaska Native Medical Center, nurses and medical staff work to ensure the safety and care for patients as they heal and address their health needs. One way that staff is dedicated to patient care is by supporting breastfeeding women and their families.

A group of ANMC volunteers are working together to make reusable breast pads for mothers who live in rural areas where disposable breast pads are either hard to find or expensive to purchase.

Nurses in the mother and baby unit at ANMC were asked about a reusable option for patients who live in rural areas. For these mothers disposable breast pads are expensive, making them a luxury out of reach for most people. Not only are they expensive in hub communities, they are almost impossible to find in outlying villages on a regular basis.

The nurses on the mother and baby unit worked together to come up with a sustainable and cost-effective solution. They decided that store bought breast pads would be too expensive, and having handmade reusable ones would be an easy and fun gift for new moms.

Laurel O’Neal, a registered nurse on the unit, began her search for volunteers. She knew volunteer services at ANMC would be a good resource to help with the project.

“Thankfully the quilting support group swooped in with a resounding yes and decided to make our dream come to life! One of the members of the quilters couldn’t wait and has already started making the breast pads,” she said.

According to O’Neal, many patients said they would have used old torn rags but the reusable ones are more absorbent and comfortable.

“It has been so much fun giving moms these pads and seeing their faces light up!” O’Neal said.

Roberta Muljure, volunteer services coordinator at ANMC, connected the nurses with the quilting group. In addition to the quilting group, staff and volunteers known as the auxiliary team work to care for every patient’s mental and spiritual health need. They support the hospital in a variety of ways from spiritual to facilities support. For more information on how to volunteer at ANMC please contact the volunteer coordinator at (907) 729-1120 or

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