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NH Bremerton relies on experienced nurse to help new moms

Military personnel gives nurse an award Registered Nurse Christina Longbons, affiliated with Navy Medicine for 20 years as a Labor and Delivery staff nurse, was recognized at NHB/NMRTC Bremerton for her contribution to a 'Great Catch Patient Safety Event.' (Photo by Douglas H Stutz, NHB/NMRTC Bremerton public affairs officer.)

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Christina Longbons has long considered herself a self-professed ‘vocal advocate’ for Naval Hospital Bremerton’s Newborn Care Clinic (NBCC) for years.

Such care, compassion and competence regarding the clinic led Longbons recently to receive the command’s ‘Good Catch Award,’ given to those who are faced with a medical problem and solve it by the best of their ability. 

For the Labor and Delivery staff nurse at NHB/Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command (NMRTC) Bremerton, it was a combination of her professional knowledge and personal background, mixed with her avowed passion for nursing and helping others, that empowered her acknowledged act.

“I feel it is imperative in the support and care of our patient population to help them become families. In serving our country, our beneficiaries are often moved away, frequently far away, from their support systems,” said Longbons, who has been affiliated with Navy Medicine for 20 years. “Our NBCC not only ensures a safe transition for our newborn from discharge until two weeks of age, but also serves as a resource for our new parents supporting them through one of life’s exciting and sometimes challenging experiences.”

Longbons knows from her own experience that for some, the most challenging part of becoming a new family is feeding their baby.

“This is where I excel and what I am most passionate about,” Longbons stated. “I delivered my first baby in Spain, an ocean away from my family support. He was born pre-term and delivered by cesarean section. The next three weeks were the most challenging of my life. My son had a lot of difficulty feeding and lost a significant amount of weight.”

“I was beside myself because I didn’t know how to feed my baby,” continued Longbons. 

Her goal was to exclusively breastfeed, but every feed was a struggle. Although her husband was supportive, he didn’t not know what or who she needed, as their baby kept losing weight.

“I needed a feeding expert and I needed them to be easily accessible because I was exhausted,” exclaimed Longbons, adding that in supporting the NBCC, her goal has been to be that exact person for her patients and families that she needed during that very stressful, emotional time of caring for her son in Spain. 

“That meant becoming the ‘feeding expert’ I wish I had. I pursued my lactation certification and sought every opportunity to gain as much experience with breastfeeding as I could and increase my competence,” Longbons said. 

Because of her expanded knowledge as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, she recently discovered a medical condition with a newborn which was preventing adequate feeding needs.

“I was able to recognize a suction problem in a newborn that I was caring for in the NBCC during an evaluation of the infant at the breast. That led to an evaluation of the baby’s mouth and a discovery of the cleft palate,” Longbons explained. “At that point the baby had been seen on numerous occasions before for weight loss concerns as well as dehydration. Once the cleft palate was recognized I was able to teach the family how to best feed their baby to support growth and weight gain as well as initiate appropriate follow-up support and an appropriate care plan.” 

The best part about her career is “helping mommies feed their babies and new parents become families.”

As both of her parents served in the Air Force, it was natural for Longbons to commission into the Navy in May 2000. She further followed her mother’s footsteps into nursing by entering the Navy Nurse Corps, and was awarded a scholarship through the Nurse Candidate program. Her first assigned was National Navy Medical Center (NNMC) Bethesda in the Labor and Delivery unit.

“I felt like it was going to be an exciting adventure where I would learn and grow as a professional nurse and travel the world. Added bonus was that I felt the Navy had better duty stations than other military branches,” related Longbons.

She also met and married her husband at NNMC Bethesda. Three years later, they transferred to U.S. Naval Hospital Rota in Spain. “My son was born in Spain in 2003 and two years later my daughter was born in Landstuhl, Germany,” she explained. Then in 2009, she arrived in the Pacific Northwest with her family. Longbons then became a bedside nurse at NHB as, and in 2017, she completed her IBCLC certification.

“Navy Medicine has taken me from novice to expert over a 20 year career, with the opportunity to care for our service members and their families,” added Longbons, who has worked continuously as a staff nurse in Labor and Delivery. “I have to opportunity to be involved in what, for most people, is one of the most important experiences of their lives. To have that opportunity is incredibly rewarding.

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