I have been educating and supporting mothers on breastfeeding since 1996.
After having my first daughter Jaylin, I not only felt a connection between the two of us but also a connection to the experience of breastfeeding. It wasn’t until signing up for WIC services for my son in 2009, however, that I became aware of the “Wonderful World of Lactation” as a career. As a result of that encounter, I was connected with HealthConnect One to become trained as a Breastfeeding Peer Counselor (PC), and within two years of becoming a PC, I obtained my CLC certification.
I have worked at multiple locations throughout the City of Chicago and suburban areas assisting, supporting and educating mothers and their support people on the joys of breastfeeding.
One joyous moment that sticks out for me occurred while working for a local WIC office. I encountered a mother who was determined to breastfeed her first baby. Mom came into the office wanting a Latch Assessment because she felt the baby was not latching right and he was constantly crying whenever feeding took place. When the Mom came for a visit, I asked for her opinion and thoughts, followed by an observation of a feeding to get an idea of what was happening when baby tried to nurse. Through my training, I recognized that the baby had a tight frenulum and as a result, he could not latch properly. I worked with the Mom to have the Pediatrician verify what I thought was occurring. After some back and forth conversation with the Pediatrician to refer baby to an ENT Specialist for the frenulum to be clipped, baby was able to properly latch. Mom felt good about her decision not to give up and baby began to gain weight as needed. As for me, I felt as if I empowered this Mom to care for her baby the way she had planned and this confirmed my decision to become a full-time Lactation Counselor.
An area of breastfeeding support that is being overlooked is providing Moms with the mental tools needed to survive the first four weeks postpartum. Any previously breastfeeding Mom will tell you how difficult the first four weeks are when breastfeeding. Those first four weeks will test a Mom’s character and strength. A Mom needs support to handle the emotions of being a new mother, add the physical changes that she is experiencing, and she needs help to keep her support people supportive of her feeding decision.
My go-to education for Moms would be the Improving Latch by Improving Positioning videos by Jessica Barton, available on YouTube. Her series of videos demonstrates how making babies comfortable in their positions will get the most effective and accurate latch needed for successful feeding.
If you are interested in helping a Mom and Baby successfully breastfeed, try these simple tips:
- Make Moms feel at ease and offer up assistance if needed.
- Empower Moms to feed, regardless of location.
- Offer encouraging words of support.
- Post “Breastfeeding Welcome” signs, so that everyone knows breastfeeding is welcome in your facilities.
- Support your local Breastfeeding Task Force, Groups, Clubs or Organizations.