My 35 Year Career in Breastfeeding Support

Breastfeeding is a relationship. It is not just a choice and must be honored and supported as much as possible.

Lactation care begins with the idea that breastfeeding is the natural step after birth: as natural as dessert after a meal. It is what babies and mothers were meant to do. When there is an interruption in that natural progression, questions must be asked. Is there a lack of desire, determination or direction that creates the barriers? Are these barriers coming from within the nursing pair or from without? Most difficulties can be overcome, but it takes the three items of desire, determination and direction to overcome them. My job as a health care professional is to assist your family to overcome any barriers or obstacles to breastfeeding. It’s too important to both mom and baby to not make the effort to give them the physical and relational benefits that breastfeeding provides

My story

I started out as a little girl wanting to be a nurse. While in nursing school, I became pregnant with my first child. I breastfed her as I returned to school and graduated when she was a little over a year old in 1972. This experience inspired me to turn my attention to Maternal-Child Nursing. My first job was as a labor and delivery nurse. I often helped mothers with breastfeeding. I saw the importance of education and information in the quality of a family’s birthing experience. I became a Childbirth Educator and served mothers in my community in that capacity while simultaneously working in L&D. I certified as an ASPO Lamaze Childbirth educator and started classes in Macon, Georgia and Dayton, Ohio in the following years.

In 1986, the hospital where I worked, West Side Hospital, decided to build a NICU and recognized that lactation support was vital in order for mothers to be able to provide breast milk for these fragile babies. I was chosen to participate in the education program that was available at the time with the goal of becoming an IBCLC – International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. I became certified when my fourth child was 2 weeks old.

My career since then has included numerous courses and seminars and conferences to learn more about the special needs of breastfeeding mothers and babies. In 1989, I started preparing adoptive moms for induced lactation and have enjoyed this aspect of lactation care ever since. The interesting thing about adoptive mothers is this: a mom who has never been pregnant can make milk! With that realization and vision, I find I can encourage moms who HAVE delivered, that they too can overcome whatever obstacles encountered to have a happy, satisfying breastfeeding relationship with their baby!

Over the course of my career I have worked with cleft palate and lip babies, Down’s babies, premature babies, babies with torticollis and tongue and lip-ties, moms with inadequate breast tissue, low milk supply, inverted nipples, badly damaged nipples, mastitis, plugged ducts and even cancer. I did my best to help make their breastfeeding experience as meaningful and rich as possible.

In the beginning, lactation consultants leaned heavily on the knowledge gathered by our fore-mothers – the La Leche League moms who first recognized the need for a medical arm of lactation advocacy. Over the past nearly 30 years, the knowledge base has expanded with high quality research, a professional organization, International certification, and recognition that the field of lactation care is a specialty in its own right. The tools we have today combined with a better understanding of the natural instincts that every mother and baby possess have helped bring together the art and science of breastfeeding to overcome problems that were once thought impossible to solve.

Other areas of lactation care where I have served:

In addition to one-on-one consultations for individuals I have served in the following areas:
• Coordinator of Lactation Services at Centennial Women’s Hospital for 25 years
• President of Tennessee Lactation Consultants Association for 2 years
• Committee chairman for Tennessee Perinatal Quality Initiative Breastfeeding Task Force for Centennial Medical Center –Improving Exclusive Breastfeeding in the Hospital
• Writer/lecturer for various breastfeeding education courses for nurses

Today, I am retired from over 30 years at Centennial Medical Center plus 13 years of mostly maternal and child nursing prior to this hospital. I opened my limited private home visit lactation service with the goal of  extending my experience into the home and along the way provide education and mentorship in the community.

Update:  I have enjoyed working with moms in their own environments since I opened my part-time practice in 2016.  It has been an interesting journey with many challenging situations. As of December 31, 2021, all clients will be referred to Chelsea Carver, IBCLC. Thank you to all the moms who have chosen to use my services and the hundreds of moms who have used the resources I have provided on this website.

Welcome to Hope Breastfeeding Support.

If you are interested in engaging lactation services find out more here.

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