Sep 28, 2020

​Congratulations to CHEER Champion of the Week, Anita S. Henderson MD, FAAP. Dr. Henderson is a pediatrician at The Pediatric Clinic -a division of the Hattiesburg Clinic-, a medical staff member at Forrest General Hospital, and President-Elect for the Mississippi Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). She was nominated for her leadership as the physician director of Forrest General’s lactation department and her excellent presentation during the CHAMPS COVID Response Webinar- Changes and Challenges to Newborn Care: COVID and Beyond.

“I have seen our hospital and the state of Mississippi make great strides in the last few years but we still have so much work to do! I believe that lactation support and training is key to changing the culture and improving the long term success of breastfeeding in our state.” – Anita S. Henderson, MD.

As a pediatric resident 25 years ago, Dr. Henderson received many hours of training in the hospital on newborn diseases and illnesses, but very little on breastfeeding. Now she helps to educate others about BFHI and breastfeeding. “I am glad to help train family practice residents at Forrest General on the benefits of breastfeeding and on the basics of Baby-Friendly,” she shares. “I believe that all physicians in all specialties should understand and support moms on their breastfeeding journey.”

Following Forrest General’s 2015 Baby-Friendly designation, Dr. Henderson has helped several hospitals in South MS with their BFHI journey. She continues to encourage and advocate for nursing staff breastfeeding education and certification. She has also worked closely with hospital physicians and outpatient clinics to disseminate information and develop protocols to keep moms and babies safe during COVID-19.

When asked about her motivation to do this work, Dr. Henderson expressed a commitment to improving the breastfeeding rates in Mississippi, which are traditionally some of the lowest in the nation. She enjoys being able to support moms, new and seasoned, to overcome their challenges. Her husband, Randy, is a neonatologist at Forrest General and so she has a particular interest in getting NICU moms pumping for their babies. “I have been particularly encouraged over the last few months that our new moms are getting more teaching in the hospital and more rest with our limited visitor policy,” she said.

Dr. Henderson is on the Board of Directors for the Mississippi Mother’s Milk Bank. She is also a member of the Breastfeeding Section for the AAP. Dr. Henderson appreciates all the other breastfeeding advocates in MS, especially Drs. Cris Click and Becky Saenz, who have worked tirelessly for moms and babies, and have served as wonderful mentors to Dr. Henderson. She would also like to recognize Dr. Sarah Broome, along with the Bower and Kellogg Foundations who have helped to support the training of CLCs throughout Mississippi.

Congratulations to Dr. Anita Henderson, thank you for being such an amazing leader, breastfeeding advocate and source of support for your nurses and patients!