Written by Amber McCann, IBCLC, Owner of Nourish Breastfeeding Support
Fleur Bickford is an IBCLC in private practice who lives in Ottawa in Ontario, Canada with her husband and two children, ages 6 and 8. Lactation Matters is glad to profile Fleur and find out a bit more about how she has used social media to promote her business and connect with breastfeeding mothers.
I have always had a passion for helping others and I always knew that I would work in health care. After completing a Bachelor of Science in Life Sciences, I went on to become a Registered Nurse. It was during my maternity rotation at school that I discovered how much I loved working with new families. I got a job as a graduate nurse on the obstetrical unit of our local hospital and gained experience in labour and delivery, post partum care and pediatrics. After becoming a mother myself, and experiencing breastfeeding challenges with our second child, I discovered both La Leche League and a passion for helping other families with breastfeeding. I became a La Leche League Leader in 2007 and in 2009, I wrote and passed the exam to become an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC).
I chose to start my own private practice as an IBCLC after passing the exam as it gives me the flexibility to work around my children’s schedules. I see clients mainly in their own homes although in urgent situations, they sometimes come to me. In between consults, I can usually be found answering e-mails, making follow up calls, writing articles for both my own blog and the Best for Babes blog (ed. note: Read Fleur’s fantastic post “The Latest on Latching” with Best for Babes), and updating my Twitter and Facebook profiles. We are very lucky in Ottawa to have a large and very active group of IBCLCs and I enjoy volunteering some of my time as president of Ottawa Valley Lactation Consultants.
When I started my business, it seemed natural to use the Internet as a means to market it. After our first child was born, I frequently turned to online forums for information and support. I started to realize then how powerful the internet and social media could be. No matter what time it was, there was always someone online to chat with when I had questions and concerns.
Recent stats show that 95% of adults age 18-33 are online, with 80-89% of them using social networking sites. I created business profiles on both Twitter and Facebook, and I also started a blog. My goal was to use the blog as a means to market myself by providing up-to-date information about breastfeeding, and Twitter and Facebook seemed like good ways to promote my blog. As I started using Facebook and Twitter, I quickly discovered that along with the ability to market my business, there are many other benefits to social media. I have found that Twitter in particular is a wonderful medium for networking with others in the lactation community. I have made wonderful connections that I likely wouldn’t have made otherwise. I started a weekly chat on Twitter for breastfeeding professionals and volunteers using the hashtag #LCchat, and every Wednesday we share information, inspire and motivate one another, and connect with others around the world who are also working to support breastfeeding mothers.
Along with the marketing and networking, social media is a powerful way to reach both parents and other health care providers with accurate information, and to promote both breastfeeding and our profession. I also learn a great deal from the interactions I have with parents online. I am able to keep in touch with what parents are experiencing and worried about, and the interactions I have with parents allow me to refine my approaches to teaching and promotion so that I am better able to empower families to reach their breastfeeding goals.