Tag Archives | Exam Hopefuls

Stories from 2013 Exam Hopefuls: Krista Gray

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 lactationmatters@gmail.com.

2012-05-25 23.35.32I grew up knowing I would breastfeed. It’s not that I remember seeing it much as a child but my mother always portrayed it as normal and I just thought that’s what mother,s did. When I became pregnant with my first child at 30, I realized that most mothers I knew didn’t breastfeed and there was a huge lack of support for breastfeeding as well as a social stigma attached to public breastfeeding in our western culture.  I read every book I could while pregnant about birth and breastfeeding and took to heart what a doula friend told me: My chances of succeeding at breastfeeding were directly correlated with how many bottles I had in my house.

My daughter arrived and breastfeeding, for the most part, was pretty easy.  There were a few bumps in the beginning – her latch hurt, we were in a huge transition moving internationally, and I became worried about my milk supply – but in talking to a wonderful IBCLC, my fears were put to rest and our breastfeeding relationship continued for nearly two years, when I became pregnant with twins.

I was living in Egypt and planning to return to the US for their birth when I spontaneously went into labor 7 ½ weeks early.  Not only were they premature, but they were also breech, so I had an emergency c-section whereby I was put under general anesthetic.  Though I was sad at how their birth had turned out, it made me even more determined to succeed at breastfeeding.  Their neonatologist was cautiously supportive of my desire to breastfeed, though he never thought my determination would last.  At 32 weeks, 3 days gestation they were able to coordinate sucking, swallowing, and breathing, though they were losing weight at the breast.  I was heavily pressured to “fortify” my milk both from our doctor in Egypt as well as in the States.  I never did supplement, but I also will never forget the emotions and pressure I felt and can definitely empathize with other moms in the same situation.

When my twins were just six days old, we decided to bring them home from the hospital.  The next two months were a blur of sleepless nights as I tried to breastfeed, pump, give bottles, clean/sterilize bottles…the routine would take 2 hours and I’d have one hour before starting all over again 24/7.  I became exhausted, but having nursed a baby before, I knew how easy it could be.  Around the time they reached 40 weeks gestation, it really did become easier.  They were both at the breast exclusively and I packed up my pump hoping I’d never have to look at it again!

In the meantime, their neonatologist in Egypt was very pleased with their growth and asked if I would consider volunteering at the hospital to encourage Egyptian mothers to breastfeed.  This is where my dream of becoming an IBCLC began.  In volunteering with new moms, as well as studying lactation coursework, I quickly realized mother-to-mother support groups were needed.  I became certified as a La Leche League leader and planned to bring everything together working as an LLL leader and IBCLC in Egypt.

With the political revolution and ensuing turmoil throughout the region, our family relocated to the UK.  We continue to work with immigrant populations, including a large Arabic-speaking population.  I am currently co-leading an LLL group as well as providing lactation support among the immigrant community.  I am excited to be sitting for the exam in July and still can hardly believe the last four years of planning and preparation are coming together!  As an IBCLC, I hope to advocate for qualified lactation support for all mothers as well as continuing to serve women through leading mother-to-mother support groups and private lactation consulting.

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Stories from 2013 Exam Hopefuls: Jen Lincoln

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 lactationmatters@gmail.com.

SONY DSCMy 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.

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Stories from 2013 Exam Hopefuls: Leah Segura

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 lactationmatters@gmail.com.

Segura11Unlike many of my peers, I grew up around breastfeeding. My mom breastfed me until I was two years old, and breastfed my sister until she was three years old. I remember frequently seeing my sister breastfeed and one of my earliest memories was attending a La Leche League meeting and falling head first into a toy box at the leader’s house!

I was only twenty-three when I had my first baby. We were the first of our friends to get married, let alone have children, so I was close to no one else with a baby. We didn’t have Internet “back then.” My breastfeeding information was limited to a few parenting books from the library and whatever information was given to me by my obstetrician, who just happened to be incredibly supportive of breastfeeding.

After I had my daughter, I was shocked to learn how controversial breastfeeding was in our culture. I had grown up around breastfeeding and it just seemed a normal, natural thing to me. I had no idea there were so many issues with breastfeeding in public, finding a breastfeeding supportive doctor, or finding good breastfeeding information and support.

I struggled a lot breastfeeding my first baby. I couldn’t seem to get the help I needed, but made it through out of sheer determination. I managed to breastfeed through a pregnancy, and after my son was born and I had two nursing babies, I faced a whole new set of challenges. That is when I started attending La Leche League meetings in a nearby town. The support I got from those meetings and the friendships I formed, many of which I still have today, changed my life. Even today, LLL still plays a key role in both my parenting and my professional life.

By the time I had my third child, I was a La Leche League leader myself. I was confident in my parenting, I was surrounded by an incredible group of women, and I had tons of support. I still had bad days. I still had meltdowns and struggles, but I had none of the depression, feelings of isolation, or vulnerability of before. I knew where to turn for help and I was willing to accept help.

As my children got older and I was able to volunteer more, I starting noticing a huge gap in the care of women postpartum. I once went on a home visit as an LLL leader for a mom who had an unplanned C-section one week earlier and was left home alone with her baby 14 hours a day. I quickly realized that if this mother was going to breastfeed, she was going to need more than a listening ear and some information! While I swept her floors, cooked her food, held her baby so she could sleep, and let her tearfully repeat her birth story again and again, I thought that there must be more I could do for mothers like her. I knew that in many other countries, women are cherished and supported after the birth of a baby. The United States is one of the only places in the world where women receive little support and are expected to quickly bounce back after giving birth.

Shortly after this experience, I learned about the role of the postpartum doula. I immediately knew it was what I wanted to do. It was a few years before I had saved enough money for postpartum doula training and my children were old enough for me to leave for extended periods of time. My training, through DONA, at the Center for the Childbearing Year in Ann Arbor, MI, was another life changing event for me. Those days that I sat listening to the presenters, I saw so many things in my life coming together, leading me right to postpartum doula work: my degree in social work; my experiences as a LLL leader; my experiences with my own three children; my desire to work with mothers and babies, even before I had my own children; the hours upon hours I spent reading and researching everything pregnancy, birth, and baby related; my desire to teach people about nutrition and eating healthy, natural foods; and the strong need for postpartum support in my particular community.

One of the biggest influences during my training was listening to an IBCLC, Barbara Robertson speak. Although most of the information was not new to me, I loved Barbara’s confidence in what she was teaching and how she spoke of working with mothers. Although I knew it might be years away, that day, I made the goal of becoming an IBCLC.

In 2010, I entered private practice as a postpartum doula. In March of 2013, I finally became an accredited doula through DONA International and I simultaneously applied to take the IBCLC exam. As a postpartum doula, I have the advantage of spending many hours and days with new families. This gives me excellent insight into the challenges new families face in day to day life, not only as a doula, but for all the families I work for. I love my work and I can’t imagine doing anything else. I know that I am already good at what I do, but I’m just beginning my journey. I’m so excited for all the opportunities in my future to become better at serving mothers in different capacities, as a LLL leader, as a doula, and soon, as an IBCLC.

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Stories from 2013 Exam Hopefuls: Jodi Fan

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 lactationmatters@gmail.com.

jodipictureMy name is Jodi Fan and I am a La Leche League Leader in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. When I was working as a small animal veterinarian in 2002, I got pregnant with my first little bundle of joy. I knew right from the start that I wanted to breastfeed. Nothing seemed more natural or perfect to me — providing my baby with everything he would need to thrive and being able to form that special bond with him through nursing. I read all the breastfeeding books that were available, took breastfeeding courses at my local hospital, and felt very prepared and confident all throughout my pregnancy.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that although breastfeeding truly IS the most natural way to feed a baby, it doesn’t always come naturally to a mother/baby dyad. There can be a pretty steep learning curve and unanticipated difficulties, no matter how prepared a mother-to-be is. When I gave birth in 2003, I experienced many difficulties with breastfeeding. From latch problems to thrush, plugged ducts and mastitis, nothing seemed to be working out as easily as I had expected it would. Feeling alone and ready to throw in the towel, coupled with not being able to find the help and guidance I felt I needed, I vowed that if I could make it through this, I would do everything possible to provide caring support for women whose goal it was to breastfeed their babies.

I finished my training to become an accredited La Leche League Leader, and three breastfed baby boys later, I am registered to sit for the IBLCE boards in 2013! I believe that every mother (and her family) deserves breastfeeding support, guidance and education both prenatally and postpartum in order to successfully deal with those “bumps in the road” that might make it challenging to experience the pure joy that is breastfeeding.

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Stories from 2013 Exam Hopefuls: Angie Brekken

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 lactationmatters@gmail.com.

Angela Brekken 1 (1)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.

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Stories from 2013 Exam Hopefuls: Brooke Smith

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 lactationmatters@gmail.com.

CLEPMy name is Brooke Smith. My journey to the IBCLC exam began when I was 18 when I read Babycatcher by Peggy Vincent chronicling the events of a midwife during the 1970s and 1980s and I was hooked!  Despite being unmarried with no plans of having children of my own, I knew my destiny lay somewhere in maternal and child health, but I didn’t know how I wanted to articulate my desires, so they remained on the back burner until I was pregnant with my first daughter.

After giving birth to her and struggling with the new feelings of motherhood, the old surge of passion for maternal child health showed back up.  While still passionate about birth as a whole, I had found that breastfeeding was what I really waxed poetic about.  Like many new mothers, I struggled with breastfeeding at first, and I returned to full-time work at 6 weeks postpartum with my trusty breast pump, but I couldn’t get my mind away from breastfeeding.  After spending my lunch hours pumping and obsessively reading breastfeeding blogs, I decided to make the jump into lactation care as a full-time career.

After giving birth to my second daughter, I quit my “day job” and enrolled in Union Institute and University’s Bachelor of Science degree program and I graduated with high marks a mere 15 months later.  I gobbled up every paper, book, journal, and blog post I could devour.  My thesis paper focused on the experience of working mothers and breastfeeding, something I remain passionate about advocating for even today.

I currently volunteer at two of our local WIC offices counseling mothers , teaching the breastfeeding and childbirth classes, and co-leading a monthly breastfeeding support group. No matter how tired I may be when I walk in, I walk out full of excitement, passion, and energy!  I also volunteer as a co-chairperson of our county’s birth network, providing lactation training to our county’s doulas, chiropractors, and midwives.  I am excited to become a full-fledged IBCLC this year after I successfully write the exam.  Although my third child will be due one month after the administration of this year’s exam, it is my plan to continue working as a volunteer educator with WIC as well as focusing on starting my county’s first private practice lactation service, Au Lait Lactation & Birth Services, provided two days a week in a local medical facility, and the remainder of the time providing in-home lactation care for dyads of all stages.

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Stories from 2013 Exam Hopefuls: De’Chelle Pierson

Lactation Matters is proud to begin a new 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 what inspired you to become an IBCLC, please email us at lactationmatters@gmail.com.

Business Photo 1 (1)My name is De’Chelle Pierson and I’m Registered Nurse (RN) from the Houston area. I work for one of the most prominent hospitals in the Houston Medical Center. For more than 6 years, I worked in the NICU level 2 and 3 until I accepted a position at the Grand Opening of our hospitals community extension in the Pediatric EC and General Pediatric Inpatient Unit. For a NICU RN, this was a huge transition for me. To go from caring for premature infants to dealing with the hustle and bustle of the emergency room was a different world.
This transition however was a blessing in disguise. I was exposed to a world of new parents who lacked the support they needed to breastfeed, troubleshoot newborn technicalities and have basic knowledge of newborn care. With all my NICU experience in caring for newborns and assisting mothers breastfeed, I was astounded that more than half the community population lacked the true support they need to be confident at caring for their newborns and breastfeeding. With a desire to implement a change, I launched my own company called Brilliantly Baby to inspire, support and educate expecting parents and infant care providers. June will be my 1 year anniversary and I feel so accomplished to have touched the lives of expecting families by educating them on how to care for their babies on the way. Currently, I provide public and private workshops for parents and even grandparents to be, a night nurse program and newborn  RN consultations.
Obtaining my IBCLC® will be a great accomplishment and another great way I will be able to support the mothers in my community. As a mother myself and as a nurse, there is no better feeling to help another mother feel competent in her role. I look forward to this great journey!
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