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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
My story of how I became interested in becoming a lactation consultant began with the birth of my son, Henry, in December 2010. I was in my final year of a challenging OB/GYN residency, and my husband had just finished his Pediatrics training. I knew “breast was best” and that I should try to nurse my son for a year (with strong encouragement from my husband!), but to be honest I wasn’t sure how it was going go given my 80-hour work weeks. I knew I would be separated from my son for up to 24 hours at a time because of work, and the thought of all the pumping I’d have to do during those shifts was dizzying. And to be honest, having rounded on lots of women while they were pumping, it just didn’t look pleasant to me.
Thankfully, I had the postpartum support of an amazing IBCLC who helped us work on some initial latching issues. Her name was Annette and not only did she help get us off to a good start, but she also invited me back to talk about returning to work and how to make pumping successful. I left that appointment educated and determined to make it work. She even found me during my first 24 hour call shift back at work to check on me and see how I was doing! I am proud to say that my son never needed a drop of formula and after 21 months, he self-weaned. I had more than met my goal, and to this day it is my proudest achievement.
Other than a few lectures here and there and our experience during rounds and in clinic, my program had no formal breastfeeding training. Since I’ve graduated they have implemented some time where our interns get to work with the hospital IBCLCs, but I missed out on that! Thankfully my hospital was extremely supportive of nursing, and I attribute that and our wonderful IBCLCs to my success. However, I felt that, as an OB/GYN, I wanted to do more for my patients when they had questions or issues with breastfeeding. As OB/GYNs, we have a huge opportunity to make a positive impact when it comes to a woman’s decision to breastfeed, and it is our responsibility to be prepared to do so. That led me down the path of becoming an IBCLC.
Today, I am a generalist OB/GYN with a passion for helping breastfeeding women. I am a member of my county’s breastfeeding coalition and work hard to advocate for nursing mothers and their babies. My dream job would be a combination of delivering babies, working in my husband’s clinic as his lactation consultant, and educating other providers and hospital staff on how to remove barriers for nursing mothers. I especially want to provide support to mothers who need to pump in the workplace and give them the encouragement that they too can do it! Lastly, I hope to develop my blog, which can be found at www.themamayears.com one day into a resource hub for breastfeeding women.
I have come a long way from the days of a green OB resident who thought breastfeeding was a foreign concept. I am excited to have the opportunity to become an IBCLC, and look forward to learning from the other amazing women who have achieved this already.