What has been one of your most memorable experiences as an IBCLC?
Bryna – When I was still interning- I had the experience that would change me deeply- I was working at the lactation clinic and it was a busy day. Sometimes we accepted walk-ins. We had three women on the couch in the front waiting for help, and a woman in the appointment room already. So I went out to the front and led a three woman latching session- it was pretty funny! “Okay- get your positions, aim your nipple to the roofsof their mouths, one, two, three…latch!”
Alright, it wasn’t quite that well orchestrated, but it was close! Only one of the women still had trouble- her son refused to latch. He just laid there with his mouth wide open! I worked with her weekly at first, and then almost daily, for six months. At the end of six months, one day during a home visit, her baby latched right on!! We both had to stifle our screams of joy and relief- we didn’t want to scare the baby! Best moment of my career so far!
Bryna Sampey became board certified in October, 2010. She began her career path in much the same way many women come to the profession- by having a baby. She went to Sonja Massey, RN, BSN, IBCLC’s free breastfeeding support group in Monterey, CA to get help with her four day old’s nursing- and fell in love with what Sonja was doing for families. Her first question (and it’s still her question today) was: “Why don’t more women do this?” Sonja took Bryna under her wing, and guided her through the process, step by step, first aiding her to become a Certified Lactation Counselor in 2007, and throughout many whirlwind weeks of internship full-time, finally to the IBLCE exam. Bryna has a special passion for helping alternative families, and families with children who have special needs. Also a doula, her private practice, Doula My Soul, focuses on lactation home visits, support, education, classes, and care from birth through weaning.
Denise – My most memorable experience is one that was vicariously enjoyed. As an educator I love to hear from students about how they applied what they’ve recently learned to a consultation.
This particular ‘vicarious experience’ was a story from a community midwife who was studying towards being an LC while working as a volunteer in a 3rd World country. Mary had recently completed a course with us on the premature infant. In a small village she found a mother with week-old twins trying to squeeze milk from her breast into one twin’s mouth, saying they couldn’t suck. Mary wrote “My heart was frozen” when she saw the twins. Their gestation was unknown but birth-weights were 1600g and 1700g (3.25 – 3.5 lb) and weight now at 1 week of age was 1000g and 1100g (2.2 – 2.4 lb). Also, she reported the infants were so cold she was surprised they were still alive.
Mary sprang into action with the knowledge she’d just acquired. She helped the mother hand express her breastmilk and cup-feed her infants, who took the milk well. She put the infants into kangaroo care with their mother for many hours until their temperatures became normal. Mary had not heard of either cup-feeding or kangaroo care before her studies. These two actions saved the lives of these infants. With lots more support for the young mother from Mary the twins thrived.
I felt so proud to be a part of this wonderful story, both helping the student gain knowledge she’ll use all her professional career, and ultimately being a part of saving two lives.
(Note: student’s name changed to protect her privacy. All details available on request.)