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My First Blog Post-How I became an IBCLC.

Hi all. This is my very first blog post...and bloggess I am not. However, as I operate a business that often delves deep into the personal, emotional and social aspects of clients lives I thought it only seemed fair to share some things about me with you! I will start there and over the course of the next few months I will add posts about topics that I feel passionate about and that I think would benefit my followers and clients I will also share happenings and goings on with my business.

In this, my first post I will share with you the (short version) story of how I came be to an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC)

August 2010 I had my second son, Lewis(Thats him winking in the photo). Immediately we had struggles latching. Dismissed early as a “lazy feeder” (which by the way is not actually a thing btw!) we got little postnatal support during the crucial first week or two. I had milk. Plenty, he just couldn't get it easily. He latched to my nipple mostly, causing extreme pain- toe curling, back tensing, tear inducing pain. It made me dread the next feed. Cue a revolving door: anticipating pain-pain-disappointment-anticipating pain-rinse repeat.

Lewis needed top ups as he would fatigue at the breast and subsequently wasn’t meeting expected growth milestones. I felt disheartened that we needed to introduce a bottle. Yes it was breast milk. But still it felt like another failure.

My well meaning Mum suggested I just use only the bottle. I screamed inside. My husband encouraged me to keep going but maybe do more half and half. I screamed inside. The GP suggested I see an ear nose and throat specialist because he “didn't know anything much about breastfeeding”....I didn’t scream inside this time...I was to confused and downhearted.

Lewis was 5 weeks old when I said to a Well Child health worker “this needs to change or I am quitting”. She told me about a small local group that had an IBCLC who might be able to help? It was free and on every week.

The following week I visited the group and the IBCLC and some other mums in similar situation to me.

“He has a tongue tie. It isn’t anything you are doing wrong”

I can still to this day (nearly 9 years later) sense that feeling of the weight lifting off my shoulders when I heard this. It wasn't me.

We scheduled a frenectomy for 3 weeks time.

Something else I vividly remember is the intense fear I had at latching Lewis immediately after his tongue tie release...I was so scared. His little gums had become razors and I was frightened…...The reason I remember this so clearly is because I latched him for the first time in nine weeks and there was nothing. NOTHING. No pain, no curling toes, no sore shoulders or nipples, no tears. Just the pleasant sound of him drinking with vigour-alert and enjoying himself.

I cried because it wasn't hurting but also because of those lost weeks of enjoying him. The anxiety and tension didn't help our bonding and to this day our relationship is lightly peppered with the remnants of this time.

Since then I have learnt that it is not always this simple for mothers and babies. That some need to work really really hard to get that comfortable latch after a tongue tie release and sometimes these procedures don’t always work. I had to continue expressing for another month to ensure Lewis didn’t need to struggle to much while he was relearning how to feed. This was hard. But we got there. We breastfed until we weaned at 27 months (that is a whole other story!)

For the next three years I supported other mums that visited that breastfeeding group. Cheryl the IBCLC supported me in applying for and studying towards my IBCLC qualification (I was already an RN so this was streamlined a bit). I enjoyed helping the group grow and move to bigger premises and felt comfortable when it was time for me to move on to other ventures. The group still operates every Thursday, like it did nine years ago and I am sure others have similar stories to mine that have visited. I know I have met some in my private practice!

I passed the very challenging IBCLC exam in 2014, at that point this had been by far my most incredible, challenging and intense line of study I had undertaken. (yes another story for the future)

Thank you to the Health worker that listened and referred!. Thank you to Cheryl for being there on that first Thursday and the following 200odd thursdays! Thank you to the mums and dads and babies that have been a part of my journey!

Ps. Yes I have since educated my GP about adequate and timely breastfeeding support!

Pps. If you are struggling with breastfeeding, be it the physical aspects or the emotional-please reach out. Contact an IBCLC or qualified breastfeeding supporter in your area. Find a support group (some listed in LINKS) like I did. They are there, you are not alone.

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