In 1998, I graduated from Norwich University, with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and was stationed in Bethesda, MD with the US Navy. I loved working with the babies, in the Neonatal ICU (NICU) so much that I made the choice against continuing a career in the Navy. After serving my obligation for the ROTC scholarship, I stayed on as a civilian employee. Then, I married back into the Navy. He would continue his Naval career until retirement in July 2023.
The birth of our first daughter (2009) taught me that all families deserve support with breastfeeding. I never expected it to to be easy, and I never expected the emotional toll. Through the support of a dear friend, and IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant), we got through it. So began my passion to support breastfeeding, I stayed home with her, and had another daughter (2012). We transferred to San Diego along the way.
I completed the pathway for Registered Nurses through Lactation Education Resources, and earned the credential (IBCLC), after passing the exam (IBCLE) in 2014. It took another 4 years before my private practice was up and running. Putting it all together is challenging, and so I offer coaching and mentoring to lactation professionals and candidates. Check out "Professional Corner". When you are also raising a family and, in my case, managing your health it can feel overwhelming. Read more about it in my blog post "My Multiple Sclerosis Journey."
I'm also a trained yoga teacher. My yoga practice informs my IBCLC practice as much as my training and education. Body alignment, state of mind, and breathing impact infant feeding. In February 2019, I attended Oral Habilitation of the Breastfeeding Dyad. The concepts and interventions I learned in that course continue to evolve within my practice, as I enjoy teaching families stretches and exercises to help their baby loosen up, calm their nervous system and allow their innate functions to emerge. In December 2019, I trained on Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders through Postpartum Support International, and started the role of coordinator to connect people to local resources in May 2020. Interacting with help-seekers has changed the way I think about most things. The secret sauce in parenting is coregulation of each other's nervous system.
With over 10 years of working in the NICU, I know human milk is "Liquid Gold", and the priority of getting Human Milk in Baby's belly continues to inform my practice, as an IBCLC, today. It is amazing to watch a baby grow from human milk, however that occurs. I work with families to make feeding low tech and low stress, whilst working towards their goals.
Through experience (personal as well as professional), and my studies, I came to see breastfeeding as worthy endeavor. Through my practice as an IBCLC, I have learned that it can look very different, from family to family. Working with PSI, I developed the understanding that no sleep philosophy and no feeding choice is worth anyone's mental well-being. People often make that bargain, sacrificing their own well-being. We will spend time understanding how you want to be feeding your baby, as well as your healthy boundaries. Your goals are my goals.
While working with families I'm often asked "how did they do it, in the olden days?" My answer is that everything is different. We've lost generational knowledge about nursing that had been amassed over centuries. Gone are the days when a new mother was surrounded by 3 or 4 generations of family, who had all grown up around nursing babies.
A skilled, knowledgeable and compassionate lactation professional can help you reach your goals. Today, we can make our own choices about having a career and in what field, whether we stay near our extended family or move away, when to start a family, how to birth, if we stay home or return to work. Every family has different circumstances, priorities, resources, and challenges. Each family can define their own success. I am personally thankful to have had these choices, which led me to open a private practice. Read more about that story in "Starting over, NOT from scratch"blog post.