There are particular experiences and moments in life that forever become etched in the very core of your being. The thought of them even many years later, can still elicit a visceral response. For me, birthing both of my children and my breastfeeding journey with each are moments like that.
Breastfeeding challenges with my first forever changed the trajectory of my life even though I did not know it at the moment. It's natural, of course I will breastfeed, I have no idea how long, etc. is how I approached breastfeeding. I planned on doing it, but really hadn't thought too hard on it figuring you just do it. Well, I was in for a surprise. It started off alright for the first couple days and then it became not so easy with my firstborn.
I had been to one La Leche League meeting before my baby arrived and found it so interesting. A lot of the babies there were a little older. I watched out of the corner of my eye as a toddler approached his mama and while standing, started nursing. What? I had no idea. Breastfeeding is not modeled very much in our society and surely not of the older toddler. It was a nice meeting, but not a lot of new babies, but I felt welcome and was happy. I laugh now because I became just that mom with the approaching toddler a few years later.
I tried going to another support group after my little one was born, but it wasn't a good fit. I contacted the hospital IBCLC and saw her several times. She was helpful, but it took a long time to discover why I was having such challenges. As good as she was, she was restricted by time for one because of the setting she practiced in. I am still forever grateful to her as she did help find a couple of the issues we were experiencing even if she couldn't solve them. I called her several years later to let her know how much of an impact she made in my life. I really wish, knowing what I know now, that I had connected with a private practice IBCLC.
A safe space is what I needed. Safe spaces is what I try to create for the families I work with. Breastfeeding and the time surrounding it is so sacred and special and filled with all sorts of decisions and emotions. We found out months later that part of what I was experiencing was postpartum depression. I know now that if I had been lucky enough to connect with a private practice IBCLC who had the time to know me, it may have been discovered earlier rather than so late in the game. There are a few things that are at the core of my practice and are very personal and non negotiable to me.
I often meet with parents who tell me their thoughts on what is happening and they follow it almost immediately with 'but, so and so told me something different'. Why are we not trusting mother's intuition? It is clear and strong and a majority of the time holds many of the answers. I encourage parents to trust their instincts.
Informed decision making is very important to me. I feel it is my job to share all the information I can about questions parents have around feeding and parenting their babies. It is then their job to decide what is best for their family. Empowering people to always ask more questions and to find the root cause of symptoms rather than a quick solution helps set the table for decision making and outcomes that help the whole family do more than just be ok, but rather thrive.
Creating spaces whether physical or virtually where parents feel safe to ask all their questions, share their stories and build a trusting connected relationship with care providers should be the norm. No issue is too small or too big and every question you may have regarding your babies health is valid. One of my core goals is always to make sure that is exactly what I offer each family I am honored to work with.