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Keeping Up-to-Date:
Your Leader's Log

Susan Buckley, West Hartford, Connecticut, USA and
Elizabeth Baldwin, Esq., North Miami Beach, Florida, USA
LEAVEN Volume 35 No. 1, February-March 1999, pp. 16-17

Ring! Ring! The familiar sound of the telephone calls to you. A distraught voice at the other end of the line asks, "Is this La Leche League?" Thus begins a scene common to LLL Leaders everywhere. Mother-to-mother sharing is one of the most basic of Leader responsibilities, yet a Leader's responsibility to the mother and to LLLI does not end when the conversation is over. Part of being an effective breastfeeding counselor involves keeping a careful account of all contacts. Such record-keeping may be regarded as just one more thing to do in a Leaders busy day; however, there are several valid reasons to make time for this important task.

Why Keep a Log?

Basic LLL Leader Responsibilities include helping mothers one-to-one, by telephone or in person, and keeping accurate records of these helping situations (see LEADER'S HANDBOOK, 1998 edition, page 4). The procedure of keeping a Leader log is based on the policy of the five basic responsibilities of LLL Leaders.

Taking notes helps you focus on the mother's words. What is she saying? What does the tone of voice she is using tell you? Often a new mother who contacts LLL in the first days or weeks of her mothering journey is physically and or emotionally exhausted. She may have difficulty articulating the particulars of her concern. Careful notes can help you determine the exact nature of the mother's problem.

Written notes can help uncover information. Reviewing notes taken during a call can help you discover a pattern in a baby's behavior or the missing link to a problem that an inexperienced mother may have overlooked.

The particulars of a situation will be conveyed more accurately. When a Leader needs to contact a Professional Liaison Leader for assistance with a medical or legal concern, an accurate log ensures that the mother's information will be transmitted correctly and without omissions.

The mother may call again. A written account of a conversation is helpful should the mother call at a later date. A newly accredited Leader may believe she can rely on her memory to recall the details of each mother's situation. In reality, as the number of mothers who reach out to a Leader increases, it becomes less possible to recall the details of each mother's situation by relying on memory alone. If a mother has to repeat the details of her concern each time she calls, she may conclude that you believe her situation is unimportant. Conversely, calling her baby by name after a quick review of your notes establishes a rapport that may help the mother to be more open to the information you have to offer.

Funding agencies pay attention to numbers. Local Leaders report contacts to their District Advisor or other Area personnel at regular intervals. If an opportunity arises to apply for grant money, including accurate, current statistics in the application can increase the chance that the proposal will be funded.

Keeping a log can actually save time. Writing down information helps you remember what you have learned while helping a mother. The physical act of writing engages the portion of the brain that is used for synthesizing information. Converting thoughts into words and transferring those words to paper helps the human brain to move data from short-term to long-term memory. By keeping a log, a Leader encourages her brain to remember more facts and where to find them, ultimately saving her time by reducing the frequency with which she must turn to her reference materials to find answers to breastfeeding questions.

Documenting calls can protect a Leader. In the unlikely event that a legal action arose, detailed information from a Leader's log would more than likely be helpful in documenting what she said. Remember that the most important reason for keeping a log is to help you better help the mother.

What Is the Preferred Format for Keeping a Log?

The LEADER'S HANDBOOK (1998 edition), suggests three possibilities including:

  1. Index cards filed alphabetically by name.
  2. A ring binder containing Leader's log sheets.
  3. A bound notebook.

Some Leaders keep log sheets on a clip board by the phone. After the statistics have been reported the sheets are placed in a binder for storage.

Many Leaders keep logs on their home computer with a paper or electronic copy as backup in the event of a hard drive failure. Leaders who answer LLLI Help Forms, who post on electronic bulletin boards or who receive emailed breastfeeding questions from other sources find that using the computer is an especially efficient way to keep a log. Cynthia Payne, a Leader in Massachusetts, USA, saves her written responses on a floppy disc. This saves her time by allowing her to use an answer she has already composed as a template the next time she encounters a similar question.

A typewriter may seem old-fashioned to some but if you have one and are comfortable using it, this, too, is a perfectly acceptable option. Remember that the legibility and consistency of your Leader's log is the most important consideration.

What type of information should be included in a Leader's log?

Preprinted log sheets may be purchased in two sizes on the Leader Order Form (Nos. 94 and 94a). LLL Canada has developed a detailed sheet for use by its Leaders. A sample can be ordered by sending $1 (US) to LLL Canada, Box 29, Chesterville, Ontario KOC 1HO Canada. These sheets may be freely photocopied for Leader only use. If you prefer to design your own sheets, it is recommended that the following information be included:

Date and time of call Mother's name, address and phone number Baby's name and age Baby's birth weight and current weight The problem as the mother describes it What the health care provider has said What the Leader suggests LLL publications sent Follow-up information.

Many Leaders have found it helpful to place a code in the corner of the log sheet to indicate the origin of the call. Was the mother referred to LLL from a local doctor or midwife? Did the LLLI 800 number refer her? Did she see a notice on the bulletin board at the local market or in the newspaper? Did she look in the phone book? Tracking this information over time can help you determine where your advertising efforts are succeeding or where more energy may be required.

Adrian Booher, a Leader in Oklahoma, USA, asks mothers who contact her if they might like to attend a Group meeting. If a mother appears interested, Adrian marks this on her log sheet and adds the mother's name and address to her Group's contact list. She reports that her Group's membership has increased significantly since beginning this practice.

Another addition to a log sheet might be the name of the mother's obstetrician or the baby's pediatrician. It can he helpful to know who else is helping the mother and who the breastfeeding allies are in the community. If you notice that mothers are consistently receiving excellent information from a given doctor, you may want to include him or her on your mailing list, extend an invitation to attend the annual LLLI Seminar for Physicians or offer information about the Medical Associates Program.

Check with your District Advisor/Coordinator for log keeping procedures in your Area. Then, using the suggestions in the LEADER'S HANDBOOK and this article,. find a system that works for you. The mothers and babies in your Area will reap the rewards of your efforts.

References

Lauwers, J. and Woessner, C. Counseling the Nursing Mother, 2nd ed. Garden City Park, New York: Avery Publishing group, 1990; 27-30.

LEADER'S HANDBOOK. Schaumburg, Illinois: LLLI, 1998; 4;14-16.

Riordan, J. and Auerbach, K. Breastfeeding and Human Lactation. Boston, Massachusetts: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 1993; 677-78.

Common Abbreviations

Some Leaders may find the following abbreviations helpful when recording information in their log. If a Leader is more comfortable using her own non-standard shorthand, it is a good idea to include a key to abbreviations somewhere in the log.

> greater than
< less than
[arrow pointing up, arrow pointing down] increase, decrease
° hours (e.g. 2°  = two hours)
5&5&5&5 switch nursing
BF or Bf breastfed, breastfeeding
BID twice per day
BW birth weight
c/sec cesarean birth
CNM certified nurse-midwife
dc discontinue
DOB date of birth
Dx diagnosis
FP family practice physician
FTT failure to thrive
GYN gynecologist
Hx history
LC lactation consultant
nsg nursing
Ø no, none
OB obstetrician
Ped pediatrician
pp postpartum
qd every day
QID four times per day
Rx medication, prescription
TID three times per day
vbac vaginal birth after cesarean

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