Why I Became a Lactation Consultant

Why I Became a Lactation Consultant

Breastfeeding has been a part of my life since I was born. I honor my mother for this. Although she found herself unexpectedly pregnant one month after her wedding, she breastfed me for about two months, even though she was ill, terrified, young and isolated from friends and family. The flashbacks that I have had all my life of the lovely feeling of the teat in my mouth, have helped me endure tough times. This is where my fundamental attachment (pun intended!) to breastfeeding was born.

Waiting for a ClientI never learned anything about breastfeeding in my collegiate nursing program, except that “some women breastfeed”. That was nice but not very helpful. Can you imagine a nurse such as I was giving advice to anybody? I was young, had never been married or had a baby. I was convinced of the rightness of what I had learned, despite being clueless myself, and counseled many experienced mothers about what they should do.

When I was 9, I watched a relative breastfeed her new baby, peeping out of the corner of my eye as I had been taught to never stare. Something about that scene lingered in my soul; I imagine that was why I knew I would breastfeed when I became pregnant. I was blessed in many ways with Vanessa’s birth. She had perfect anatomy, and was a truly term baby girl, born via a spontaneous and unmedicated labor, the first Lamaze delivery at that hospital. My first husband was really helpful to me for the first time in our lives together (thank you, Kenneth). I remember a funny episode during the labor, a brief argument at 8 centimeters:


“You’re not supposed to do that breathing pattern until you are in transition!”

Me, tearfully,

“But 8 centimeters IS transition.”

MaternityMy sweet new daughter and I did well together, save for a brief rough spot when she, the gastroenterologist’s daughter, threw up suddenly and he freaked. “Projectile vomiting!” His terror was palpable. I called La Leche League. They were so reassuring; “just too much milk for now” and “temporary”.  It was.

I became the local LLL Chapter Librarian, reading everything I could find. This voracious reading, a wonderful Leader and my nursing baby, gave me the best foundation a person could have  to become a lactation consultant. That was in 1975. I still love babies and mothers and breastfeeding, nearly 50 years later!

My success rate is way above 80%, at least as far as breastfeeding recovery goes. I suspect that nearly all the mothers I have worked with have gained some new awareness as a mother, even if breastfeeding ends up looking far different to the original idea.

A mother of twins described working with me as we discovered together that there truly was a genuine medical reason that she could not breastfeed. She said that the I left our visit by putting her babies skin-to-skin and left them all tucked in together. She said that she spent 5 priceless, precious hours with her babies. That time changed her into being a more secure, compassionate and intuitive mother. That’s what I do, to help re-establish the heart to heart connection between babies and their parents.

Busy Mother holding childThere is so much that goes into breastfeeding: energy, genetics, vitality, luck, and circumstance. Each individual has their own dynamic interaction of these elements. I aim to fit in in the most helpful way, working with at least 2 individuals (the mother and baby), plus the family and immediate environment. What keeps me so involved with breastfeeding today is some form of grandmother energy I suppose, or perhaps the life force.  I am doing what I can to keep us humans alive because we sure seem bent on doing ourselves in!

Over the years, I have learned about many different styles of healing: homeopathy, craniosacral therapy, infant massage and aromatherapy. I blend all of these modalities in my my lactation practice. That is why I call myself a holistic lactation consultant.

This wonderful work is what I have loved doing, is what I still love doing, and expect to keep loving as long as I live. I imagine that I will get better and better at this work as I live; why would I set in my mind some number as a goal to reach before I stop? I prefer to look inward, at my heart.

For years, I have been involved in all aspects of breastfeeding:
  • Mother and ChildDoing: for a lifetime total of 8.5 years with 2 daughters (Vanessa and Clelia)
  • Helping: Since 1978, as a public health nurse in upstate New York
  • Teaching: Everybody: pregnant families, health care professionals, high schools, corporate offices, training classes, medical schools, college students………..people in line at the grocery store.
  • Writing: Film Editor of the Journal of Human Lactation from 1994-2006, and, Reviews Editor for the journal Clinical Lactation from 2015 – 2018.
    I’ve  published articles, books, letters, and reviews. I write to educate, to set policy and to express my opinions and views. I had the honor of writing the chapter on breastfeeding for the ALACE childbirth education training manual. www.alace.com
  • Learning: I take classes and workshops, and attend conferences. I read something about breastfeeding nearly every day, thanks to PubMed and Google Alerts.   The best teachers are every dyad that I see. My other work (childbirth education, craniosacral therapy, and teaching infant massage)  keeps my mind open and thinking about new things. I have done a short internship, following a speech and language pathologist around in a big medical center.
  • Talking: I love to present at conferences. I meet many wonderful people everywhere I go. I have a selection of conference presentations and I am happy to build new ones upon request. I also speak at local Nursing Mothers’ meetings on topics of interest to new mothers.
Fees are negotiable, and are in addition to travel and expenses.

If you are interested in hiring me, you can come to my office. If the weather is nice, we might go for a walk and talk about things. Or we can arrange a home visit. Travel will cost if you live more than 15 minutes away. Breastfeeding services are a package: a 1 1/2  to 3 hour visit, and then telephone or email support for as long as you need. You tell me.

Text Nikki today at 215.888.0013 to learn more or schedule a session.

Contact Nikki!