Linda Jackson is an Oak Cliff momma, pure and simple. Not only is she raising, with her husband of 13 years, her two children right here in the heart of Winnetka Heights, but she also supports hundreds of mothers a year at her post at Methodist Beginnings, a part of Methodist Dallas Medical Center. If motherhood is all about nurturing, then Jackson’s credentials are unparalleled. “One of the things I love about my job,” Jackson enthuses, “is that I get the chance to help women during one of the most amazing times of their lives — having a child.”
Although she tries to keep it under her hat, Jackson is not technically an Oak Cliff native. What’s that old saying? She wasn’t born here, but she got here as soon as she could? Jackson embodies that statement, moving to the Cliff at the tender age of six weeks after being born in Sherman, Texas. And she’s been here ever since, recalling childhood memories such as fishing golf balls out of the Stevens Park creek and selling them back to the golfers. “I try not to let anyone know that I really transferred in as a baby,” she confides, “I consider myself an ‘Oak Cliff Lifer.’”
You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone more dedicated to Oak Cliff, however, and more determined to make her neighborhood as welcome a home as possible. Originally trained as a 2nd-grade teacher, Jackson decided to stay at home after the birth of her first child 10 years ago. But her teacher-ly instincts wouldn’t budge, and as a result of thoroughly educating herself on being the mother of an infant, she quickly began sharing her new-found knowledge with other mothers.
“I had read everything I could get my hands on about childbirth and breastfeeding and I was going to embrace my new life as a mom,” Jackson explains. “Well, I embraced it alright. . . By the time my daughter was four months old, I found myself drawn to teaching moms about breastfeeding, and doing home visits to help them with any problems they were having.” Before she knew it, Jackson had become a certified Lactation Consultant and Lamaze Childbirth Educator.
Jackson’s current position as Perinatal Education and Lactation Services Coordinator at Methodist Dallas Medical Center allows her to provide both practical and emotional support for the newest Oak Cliff mothers. “The title is so big it doesn’t even fit on my nametag,” she jokes. “It’s a lot like the job of Mom — the job description goes beyond anything that could fit on a piece of paper.”
Jackson can’t say enough about the improvements currently underway at Methodist Hospital, an Oak Cliff landmark for 80 years. “There are so many good things going on at Methodist that I can’t even begin to mention them all. We have a wonderful staff in the Women’s Services department,” she says. “A woman can be sure she will get the best maternity care right here in the Cliff.” And Jackson knows of what she speaks: “My second child was born here,” she states. “I’m proud to have a job at a hospital that has so much to offer new moms and their families.” And Jackson isn’t the only one taking notice of Methodist’s excellence: in 2006, it was one of three hospitals in the country to receive the national Premier Award for Quality in the area of maternal and neonatal care.
Of the many programs Jackson oversees at the neighborhood hospital, she lists, “lactation support before and after moms deliver, classes for early pregnancy, childbirth preparation, baby care, CPR, all in addition to community women’s and new mom’s health events.” Jackson adds, “We even have a special class just for dads and taught by dads, called Daddy Boot Camp.”
Among the most helpful offerings for new Oak Cliff mommies is the breastfeeding support group. Jackson heads up this weekly troubleshooting group, and encourages any woman with concerns about nursing to attend. “The group is for any mom who has questions or just needs encouragement as she makes her way through those often difficult first few weeks of breastfeeding. The classes and support group are open to anyone,” Jackson emphasizes, “even if they did not deliver here at Methodist Dallas Medical Center.”
Jackson really means it, too. She wants to help any and all Oak Cliff mothers in the tender but challenging beginning phase of parenthood. Her best piece of advice? Free yourself from the tyranny of the parenting books. “I don’t begin to think I have all the answers, and I certainly don’t tell anyone how to raise their children,” Jackson says, “but I would love to find a way to encourage women to trust their instincts more when it comes to taking care of their children.”
And, that’s exactly what Jackson does: she helps mothers trust themselves in their new, and powerful, role as parent. “There are few things more empowering to a woman than having a baby,” she asserts. “Ask any woman who has had a baby, or maybe more importantly ask any woman who has struggled with having a baby or breastfeeding a baby. If I can help them get started in a positive way, then maybe they will have more confidence in their ability to be that ‘good’ mother we all hope to be.”
And what about the fathers, and others that care about the mothers? How can they help a new mother? Jackson recommends, “My advice to those supporting the new mom is to allow her to be herself and mother her baby in her own way. None of us has the perfect answer but we can support the new mom by caring for her physically and emotionally and by listening to her as she works out her own way to be a mom.”
Jackson’s enthusiasm for supporting mothers is tangible, and her good advice plentiful. Aren’t we lucky to have such a loving mother right here in the neighborhood?
For more information about Methodist Beginnings, call 214-947-1160, email [email protected], or visit www.methodisthealthsystem.org/parenteddallas.