Lactation Matters is in the midst of a series of blog posts, from now until July, when the 2013 exam to certify IBCLCs is given. As we seek to increase access to the services of IBCLCs, cheering on those who are taking up the challenge should be celebrated! If you are a 2013 exam hopeful and would like to share a bit with us about what inspired you to become an IBCLC, please email us at email@example.com.
My name is Angie Brekken and I will be sitting for the exam to certify IBCLCs this July. Breastfeeding wasn’t something I was familiar with growing up. The first time I recall seeing a woman breastfeed was when I accidentally walk in on my cousin’s wife with her infant. I remember feeling a little uneasy and embarrassed. My mother breastfed me for 3 months, and my little sister for a brief period as well. But I remember hearing stories from my mother that her milk “dried up” because of the stress she was going through when her grandmother died.
I thought that I would be doomed for my own breastfeeding experience. My dad asked me when I was pregnant with my first son if I would be breastfeeding. I answered “I will try”. I truly lacked the confidence in my body to succeed. Luckily, there was a fantastic lactation consultant at the hospital when I delivered. She helped guide me through learning to latch and was a true support and cheerleader for me. We made it out of the hospital without supplementing with formula despite an emergency C-section and loss of blood.
During my first week back at work at eleven weeks postpartum, my dad died of a heart attack at the age of 49. To say the least, I was devastated and crushed. I was sure my milk would “dry up”, like my mother’s. This same lactation consultant kept cheering me on and encouraging me through my grief. My first son didn’t receive formula and I nursed exclusively for 13 months. My second son went on to nurse for almost two years when he weaned himself. All through this, I was back in college to earn my Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in nutrition and became a Registered Dietician. The support that I received from this lactation consultant was so valuable to me.
I now work with WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) and my goal is to be able to help mothers the way she helped me. I feel that the IBCLC credential will help me to do that. What better first nutrition than mother’s milk? What a great fit for a Registered Dietician (RD) to also be able to support mothers in their breastfeeding experience. I had the honor, a couple of weeks ago, to talk with a mother that said “I would have quit breastfeeding in the first week if it wasn’t for seeing you.” I shut my door and cried when she left, knowing that in some small way, I had made a difference. I want to continue making a difference, however small or large, and pass on this great gift that was given to me by that hospital lactation consultant 9 years ago. Thank you, Mary!
Hopefully, at this time 6 months from now, I will be able to add the coveted IBCLC credential to my RD and continue helping mothers to reach their breastfeeding goals.