Q&A With a Lactation Consultant
Do you wish that you could speak to or have spoken to a specialist in lactation? Did you have so many questions about breast feeding that everyone seemed to know the answer but none of it worked? This happens to so many moms out there, they are given information that doesn’t work for them or they are not sure what to do with.
A friend I grew up with has turned her passion and knowledge into an amazing profession. I wanted to share with you about her profession as a International Board Certified Lactation Consultant because she has some pretty amazing knowledge as a mom herself and a professional about things others needed to know! Every time I saw her pictures and her posts about her passion for breastfeeding, I knew I needed to share her knowledge. I came up with a few questions to ask her, but she added a ton more! I know I could have used this knowledge when I had my daughter and I know that you will benefit from reading this! I hope you enjoy the knowledge and check out her site after you are don1. Tell me about you and why you chose your profession.
Hello mamas! My name is Jamie Owens and I am a mom to a 2 year old named Demi, pregnant with #2, a dog mom to a rescue mix named Brutus, a wife to a handsome and brilliant man named Stephen, a passionate breastfeeding advocate, IBCLC (international board certified lactation consultant), a registered nurse, a hobbyist photographer, and a creative. I currently live in Denville NJ after leaving behind Jersey City and all my amazing mama friends, and where I started my first practice as an IBCLC. I worked in a hospital setting, at NY Presbyterian Hospital Weill Cornell, as a registered nurse in Women’s health: Postpartum and Labor and Delivery, for almost 8 years, starting in 2008. When I gave birth to Demi in September of 2015, I quit the hospital work-life, took 11 months to dedicate to being home with her, and then started up my private practice in Jersey City. I have always wanted to care for women and babies. As a 3 year old who was asked in class what profession I wanted to be when I grew up, my answer was always “a neonatal nurse.” Being a lactation consultant and being able to go into peoples homes and help them in the most important and intimate and often times terrifying point in their lives, is unbelievably rewarding for me. When I am able to latch a baby who has never latched, it gives me full body chills. I love working with mamas so that I can leave their homes knowing I gave them confidence in themselves and their bodies and all the correct information to help guide them on their own personal breastfeeding journeys.
2. Please share an example of how you helped a client succeed with her breastfeeding journey.
I have had so many incredible clients and families who have worked so hard with me to reach their goals that its difficult to think of one where I felt the most successful. One mama that stands out had a baby who was born early and very small so we had to work together for a longer period of time. We were able to wean the baby off the formula, wean mama off the pump, make sure her supply stayed great, and we were able to get her baby to only breastfeed from her breasts (as this was the clients goal). We had a really great relationship and mama was so dedicated. She is still exclusively breastfeeding
3. What makes your IBCLC practice unique?
I would say a few things make my practice and me as an IBCLC unique. For one, my home visit is never timed. I want to make sure my clients never feel rushed by the clock, feel like they have asked all of their questions, and feel secure when I leave. Some visits are an hour, some have been almost 3. Second, after my visit, oftentimes I send over a text message or email covering the important points we went over together. I know how overwhelming a ton of information being thrown at you can seem. Third, after the visit, I like to hear from my clients. I totally invest myself in my clients and their baby’s and any issues they may be having. I make sure my mamas know they can reach out whenever they need me for additional questions, and that I want to know how their next pediatrician visit went. (If the issues are too extensive to be answered over text or phone call, then we will have to schedule a follow up visit.) If the case is very unique or very difficult, I often go home after a visit and do a bunch of research. Its extremely important to me that I help my families succeed and find answers.
4. What would your home visit look like?
A home visit starts by arranging exact timing through texts on the morning of the day we choose for our visit. Depending on what time the baby wakes up and how often he/she seems to be feeding throughout today, we try to get timing as exact as we can so I can come right when he/she is ready to nurse. Its very difficult to schedule a breastfeeding baby, (as all new breastfeeding mamas figure out quickly) and I would never want my client/baby to have to, so we do the very best we can. If he/she wakes when I am on my way, I just tell the mama to snuggle him/her until I get there, and to not latch without me. We always have to factor in timing with the drive as well, adding an additional tricky point. But, we always make it work. I come to the families house and watch and give gentle hands on assistance with the entire feeding. I like to see the mom and baby in their element, in the spot they always nurse, and where they feel comfortable. I stay as long as is needed to make sure to answer all questions and give as much assistance as needed. We make a plan that we are both comfortable with. As stated above, we continue to chat through text and phone calls after our visit as needed and as part of the initial fee, to make sure things are going really well and that the plan we have made together is working.
A new mom who is struggling with nursing or who just wants to make sure things are going well, would benefit enormously from seeing an IBCLC and getting a home visit. Sometimes small corrections in positioning, getting a deeper latch, recommendations on an awesome pillow (the “brest friend” is the BEST), and giving the mama a confidence boost is EVERYTHING to a successful experience. Oftentimes (too often), mis-information is given and having an IBCLC come to the house and clarify all the truths and un-truths can really make a big difference. If there are more serious issues like weight loss, mastitis, or tongue ties, the IBCLC can help find you answers, make a plan with you, and connect you to professionals for confirmation with diagnosis if necessary.
6. Why do you think so many women struggle with breastfeeding, particularly in the first few weeks?
I think a few things effect the beginning struggle. One, you and your baby are learning. You have to learn to hold your baby who has no neck or head control, and hold your breast, and make sure the baby gets on deep enough, all with only 2 hands. Your baby may come early, or may be sleepy from a medicated or difficult birth, and latching a sleepy baby is NOT easy. Same as a super aggressive hungry babe who is thrashing at your breast, definitely not easy to make sure each and every latch is perfect. You get one bad latch and you’re sore. Another reason I think its such a struggle in the beginning is because of conflicting information given out to mamas. One nurse tells you one thing, another says something completely contradictory. You may even hear conflicting information between your OB and the IBCLC you see in the hospital. Lastly, breastfeeding mamas NEED support. You need someone on your team, whether its your spouse or partner or your bff: you need someone saying you’re doing great and to keep at it, and you WILL sleep eventually. Or someone who helps you find resources if nursing isn’t going well.
7. What is the most important piece you think new moms should know about breast feeding ?
The more often you fully empty your breasts, the more milk you will make. Simple as that. Its a feedback mechanisim: when your breast is empty, it triggers your brain to make more milk. If you are concerned about your supply, empty more!
8. What is your least favorite advice you hear other people give breastfeeding mommies?
When I hear that my client has been told to do 15 minutes on each side, per feeding, it literally makes my skin crawl. This is SO wrong in so many ways, and at least one person will tell you this during your hospital stay. Here is why you should NOT do this: 1) Never break a good and comfortable latch to switch sides. You’re baby is happy there, leave him/her. 2) The fattiest milk is at the end of the breast so when you switch the baby too quickly, before its gotten to the fattiest milk, you miss out on great weight gaining calories 3) to make milk and have a kick ass supply, you need to fully empty. By switching too soon, you aren’t fully emptying either breast 4) Foremilk (the less fatty milk in the beginning) also has a higher content of lactose. Lactose causes gas. Gas causes pain. If you keep giving all foremilk, you will have a very uncomfortable and gassy kiddo. 5) You should never end a breastfeeding session because of the time: don’t look at the clock and let your baby tell you when he/she is done nursing. Some feeds will be quicker, some will be super long. Your breastfeeding baby self regulates.
9. Any advice to new mommies, from a fellow mommies perspective?
Find your mom friends as soon as you’re ready to get out of the house. When you find other mamas who just had a baby too, there is nothing that helps make sense of this craziness than you dishing about everything together. Its more than just poop talk, let yourself get really deep with these other moms. And it definitely helps if they are breastfeeders too; you can make your little nursing in public tribe to gain some confidence and use each other to bounce ideas off of. Second thing: go to yoga, breathe, and stretch your body as soon as your OB or midwife says its ok.
10. Any advice to new mommies from an IBCLC’s perspective?
Trust your body, trust your baby. Get help if you need it and as soon as you can: the quicker you fix the problem, the better. Don’t try to schedule your baby, let him/her guide you and respond to their needs. Your baby sets the pace.
For more information, please visit her sites!