I breastfed both of my children and have experience with breastfeeding during pregnancy as well as with extended breastfeeding. My personal journey involved balancing working outside of the home while exclusively providing breast milk, oversupply, an overactive let-down, injured nipples, plugged ducts, and postpartum anxiety.
One of the things that I love about being an IBCLC is that I have seen how a person's lactation journey empowers them through some of the most difficult life experiences. As a former NICU RN and lactation consultant, I watched families light up when they saw their sick or fragile children respond to their milk. It was a parent who created that amazing 'medicine'!
I worked in a large children's hospital which was linked to labor and delivery as well as the main adult hospital. I spent the most time in the NICU and also covered any other area where a lactating person and/or a baby might be, including the PCTU, ER, readmission floor, and adult ICU. I've also worked in a clinic and done in-home visits and telehealth. Throughout my time as a lactation consultant, I've really enjoyed teaching prenatal education classes.
My husband and I have 2 kids and several fur and feathered friends.
I spend a lot of time growing food, herbs, and pollinator-friendly plants. I've discovered I love building and am renovating my 120-year-old house when I'm not getting distracted by the occasional whim to build a tree house or garden shed. I also love salvaging or repurposing materials for my projects. My happy place is anywhere on a Great Lake, particularly a beach with lots of rocks and sand dunes.
In addition to my IBCLC, I have a BSN and RN in nursing, a BS focused on medical anthropology, and I studied and worked as a licensed massage therapist.
When I was in nursing school, before I had children, I was told that I would find my 'thing' during one of my clinical rotations. As much as I liked most aspects of nursing, nothing really clicked for me until I was following a hospital lactation consultant one night in a postpartum unit. That was it. I was hooked. I started working towards my IBCLC while I was working as a NICU RN and became licensed shortly after having my first child!
There was a time before formula was an option when breastfeeding naturally followed childbirth. That is not to say that everyone chose to breastfeed or had an easy time of it, however, every child needed breast milk and if the parent did not provide it the next best thing was a surrogate or 'wet nurse'.
In other words, lots of people had experience with lactation. Children were exposed to it growing up, and families were better prepared to support a new mother. Many families and cultures no longer carry the general knowledge of how to support breastfeeding anymore. Even if they do, many people do not live with or near their families. I did not learn how to breastfeed from family members, in nursing school, or even as a NICU RN. I had to seek out specific knowledge through a lactation consultant course and then through my personal experiences breastfeeding and supporting others. I love being an IBCLC, but it is my hope that one day my knowledge will be more common-place.
Respect your own process. Everyone has a million little things that shape their own experience and sometimes the hurdles you face can be really challenging. So don't compare yourself to others. Lactation is a hormone-filled journey with its ups and downs. Hopefully, your journey will be rewarding and special, but ask for help along the way! It is a team sport, and you are not expected to do it all alone.