Boundaries as a Foundation for Communication:
Every birth worker I know needs constant work with boundaries. The system sets us up for it. The certification process requiring hundreds of volunteer hours self-selects people who can and will do the work for free. Here I am recommending starting out with hosting a free support group, because that is time well-spent. I recommend that you offer to alternate weeks with your mentor if they have an
existing group. If you need to start one, find a partner. Staffing the same day every week gets hard.
Support Group as a foundation for clinical practice:
This is an opportunity for compassion as an exchange amongst equals. If you are listening, parents are offering you as much as you are offering them. You have the chance to hone your interviewing and active listening skills, shore up your boundaries, market yourself, and strengthen your community.
Places to Host
Your place birth space
Your kid's school,
Your place of worship, Yoga space
See local groups and how they are marketed
Someone Hosting and Existing Group
Fellow Lactation Student
Doula or Birth Worker
We can talk about what I've learned, your ideas, and how to get started. with a Pro Tips Conversation.
Listening to parents has allowed me to adjust my language for lived experiences. People tell you what they heard vs what a clinician intended. A common zinger: a parent has been triple feeding for the past 2 weeks and does not have a plan to transition to something more manageable. Appreciating the presence of partners while prioritizing all lactating parents who show up. Checking in with parents who seem excluded.
It gives you a chance to volunteer your time to promote and advocate human milk feeding within your community with healthy boundaries. It’s a steep learning curve to make people feel welcome and safe while holding the time and space as well as the intention of the group. You learn to hold the boundary that anything which would need consent is not going to happen in the space. I stop talking as soon as the parent indicates understanding. But these sentences are in my back pocket:
“Our group centers peer to peer support. For me to give an opinion about your Baby’s oral anatomy, I would need documented consent to provide care. I’ve learned that if we don’t go through the process of a lactation visit, it's not complete care. Here’s a list of community resources. You can book a visit with me…”
You develop the boundary to start and (especially end) on time. I recommend an open house format, but I am there ~10 minutes before starting. Start with introductions about 5 minutes after the published start time and announce that I need to pack up the scale in 15 minutes, if anyone wants a post-feeding weight. If people show up close to end time:
“We don’t have enough time to do a weighted feeding, but please come in.”
Centering peer to peer support and decentering yourself. I was several years into private practice when I realized that I am not in competition with the Providers with whom a help-seeker is working. Most plans that a lactation professional creates with a family will work for them, so long as they have the confidence to give it time. Learning that validation may be all a parent needs.
When a help seeker has found a strategy through their own resorcing or with a lactation professional, often all that’s needed is for them to hear that the current plan is reasonable along with a time frame for staying that course:
When did you start power pumping? Oh, 3 days? I like to give the body a week to respond to new stimulation. See how you feel about it on Thursday
Give us your have thoughts and comments. We are all learning to better serve our communities. Carly.