Tegan and Khang Nguyen with their daughter, Ruby

Wooden footstools donated by students from Dedham High School are supporting new moms at the Brigham in more ways than one.

Crafted by a woodworking class, the footstools are available for postpartum patients to use while breastfeeding during their maternity stays in the Mary Horrigan Connors Center for Women and Newborns (CWN).

“Using a nursing stool can relieve stress you might experience on your shoulders, back and neck when you’re breastfeeding,” said Jennifer Riley, RN, IBCLC, a lactation consultant. “Many new moms are breastfeeding several times a day, and we want to do whatever we can to ensure they have maximum support while nursing.”

Many mothers who have just given birth often try to breastfeed by sitting in a chair in their hospital room, Riley said. This can be uncomfortable for some patients because their feet might not completely touch the floor, making them feel unstable. The wooden footstools help to eliminate that issue, Riley explained.

New moms usually need to breastfeed at least 10 to 12 times a day, Riley said. 

The department previously had a limited number of wooden footstools available.

Riley said she was overjoyed when she saw the stools being delivered to CWN a few weeks back.

“We were all very touched that the students took the time to build these for our patients,” Riley said. “This was such a kind and much-appreciated gesture. We can’t thank the students and instructor enough for their generous donation.”

Sitting in a chair while holding her newborn daughter, first-time mom Tegan Nguyen said using the footstool has made a big difference in her breastfeeding experience. Before heading home later that afternoon with baby Ruby, Nguyen and her husband, Khang Nguyen, MD, were looking online to see if they could purchase a similar stool for their home.

“It can be difficult to sit and learn to breastfeed after just giving birth, but the stool has made me feel much more comfortable and relaxed about the whole process,” said Nguyen. “My husband has even been using it to rest his feet while he holds Ruby in the chair.”

Lise Carolyn Johnson, MD, medical director of Well Newborn Care in the Department of Pediatric Newborn Medicine, was first introduced to David Haluska, the woodworking instructor at Dedham High, a few months ago by a pediatrician who rounds at the Brigham. Johnson said the project was the perfect way for the Greater Boston community to get closer to the Brigham community.

“The community is literally supporting our patients with these footstools,” Johnson said. “For new moms to succeed at breastfeeding, they need not only education but also the support of their care team, their family members and the community. Every time I see the stools, I think back to the students who created them. I hope they know that their donation means so much to us.”