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Memorable Moments as an IBCLC – Part Five

What has been one of your most memorable experiences as an IBCLC?

Yasmin – The most memorable experience as an IBCLC is when I, as coauthor, conducted first time independent research in which we explored the experiences of women on reasons in initiating and maintaining breastfeeding in the urban area of Karachi, Pakistan. For this, I feel very humble. After attending the ILCA conference in 2008, a spark was ignited in us and we were able to initiate this small scale research project in our country.  To continue that learning and to help mothers continue exclusive and optimum breast feeding practices, I have chosen to complete my master’s thesis on the topic of exploring father’s and health care provider’s perceptions for breast feeding practices in Karachi, Pakistan.

Yasmin Mithani, IBCLC, BScN, RN, RM

Senior Instructor, AKUSONAM

Robin -A few months ago, I met a mother at one of my weekly breastfeeding support groups.  She had a 3 week old baby boy, who was having some major challenges latching on.  When I went to her home for a private consultation, her story began to unfold.  Her son’s tight frenulum had been clipped in the hospital and, since then, had refused to latch for more than a few minutes.  She was exclusively pumping, to preserve her milk supply, and her son was receiving bottles of breast milk in place of breastfeeding.  This sweet mother was so determined, yet was at a loss for how to bring her baby back to breast.

Within about 15 minutes, I removed the mother’s breastfeeding pillow, elevated her feet, and asked her to recline.  Next, I rested her son on her chest and waited for him to root around.  Her son bobbed around until he found her nipple and began to suckle.  The mother was in disbelief that her son could latch on his own and tears filled her eyes as she heard gulp after gulp.

Well, after I left, her son went back to his fussy ways and would only latch and breastfeed intermittently.  The mother was devastated.  I recommended that she wear him skin to skin and to spend a day in bed with her son, nursing whenever he showed signs of hunger.  I felt so badly for this mother and baby, as I knew her son was capable, yet they weren’t in sync at the moment.

Two weeks later, the mother walked through the door of my support group and gave me an enormous hug.  After having spent an entire Saturday cuddling with her son, gently refusing to give him a bottle, he finally figured out that he could get all that he needed directly from the breast.  They had been exclusively breastfeeding for 4 days now and they couldn’t have been happier.  I was so incredibly proud of this mother…for her perseverance and her willpower.  She continues to inspire me to this day.

Robin Kaplan, M.Ed., IBCLC

Co-Editor, Lactation Matters Owner,

San Diego Breastfeeding Center


2 Responses to Memorable Moments as an IBCLC – Part Five

  1. Jarold (Tom) Johnston 12 March 2012 at 10:30 #

    This happened a few years ago, at the time I was a new midwife, but experienced IBCLC. It was my habit to ask all women at their first midwifery appointment what they knew about breastfeeding. One such woman said, “Oh, I’m not breastfeeding! Only animals breastfeed, people don’t.” This was such a powerful response that I had to know more about it, so I probed a bit deeper.
    “That is an interesting response. You know, I’ve heard about people like you, but I’ve never met one. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions about your opinion?” She told me she didn’t mind and I began to investigate. She had never had a family member breastfeed, had never experienced any positive breastfeeding stories and didn’t have any knowledge about breastfeeding or the risks of formula feed. We finished our visit and I told her that I had enjoyed our time together and she was welcome to come back to see me or any of my 8 colleagues in 4-6 weeks. I warned her however, that I would talk about breastfeeding at every visit and that if she wasn’t interested, she should see someone else. She returned, and I continued to discuss it in small pieces. Often giving her “homework”, things to research between appointments (risks of formula feeding, latching, pumping options etc…).
    At the 32 week visit she announced that she was willing to pump her milk and bottle feed. I encouraged her, telling her I thought that was much better than formula. I sent her home with homework about skin to skin contact. By 36 weeks she agreed to nurse in the hospital, but would be pumping when she went home, again I congratulated her and told her that was a great plan. I encouraged her to look into the signs of a good latch. She delivered at term and I was there when she first put her baby to the breast. He took to it like an old pro and nursed beautifully. The mother was excited, but guarded. She went home breastfeeding well in two days and returned at her 8 week well mother appointment still breastfeeding! I told her I was very proud of her, and she told me that breastfeeding was nothing like she thought it would be. She thanked me for my persistence and confided in me that initially she kept coming back out of stubbornness. She had intended to argue her points with me but was never able to come up with any evidence that she was right and I could be wrong. Her homework assignments only made my points stronger and she realized that she had been misled.
    As a prologue to the story, this same woman called me at 15 months postpartum asking me how to wean the baby. She had been trying to get pregnant again, but was having no luck. I was very happy to see how far she had come. She was not only a successful breastfeeding mother, but a true convert. I have always been very proud of her for her conversion, but also very proud that I was able to overcome her preconceived notions and convince her to give breastfeeding a chance. This experience has taught me that IBCLCs can and do make an impact. One family at a time, one baby at a time. It spreads like ink on a page.

    Tom Johnston

  2. Lactation Matters Co-editor 13 March 2012 at 04:03 #

    Thank you Tom, this is a wonderful memorable experience you have now shared with us all. Congratulations.
    IBCLC’s do make an Impact !

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