Words about me and why I love being a Lactation Consultant

on December 16, 2013 in Breastfeeding, News, Why I love what I do.

When I was young, I always knew that I would breastfeed my children.  As an R.N. working in the newborn nursery, I tried to help mothers breastfeed, but it wasn’t until I had my own child that I truely learned about breastfeeding! In 1978, when I first gave birth, few mothers breastfed. Actually the 1970’s was the decade when the fewest babies were nursed in U.S. history!

When I finally had my firstborn, I lifted her to my breast and she knew exactly what to do!  Unfortunately, I was unaware that latching a baby was a bit of a learned skill and I ended up with very damaged nipples that lingered for weeks.  As a result, I suffered with mastitis and ultimately was hospitalized at six weeks post partum with an abscess that needed to be drained.

Moving forward, I competed  my Master’s Degree in Perinatal Nursing and landed a job as a Perinatal Clinical Specialist at a very old county hospital in San Luis Obispo, California.  From the start of my new job, I was drawn to the nursing mothers and breastfeeding was on the rise.  Soon, mothers began calling and returning to the hospital for additional help.  Sometimes, I was baffled by their struggles. I attended the first lactation consultant program in the U.S. and soon, I co-founded one of the first breastfeeding “Warmlines” and Breastfeeding Clinics anywhere.  My supervisors supported my endeavors and before long, breastfeeding was my every waking breath.  The clinic and Warmline taught me more than I could have ever imagined.  The nursing mothers taught me everything!

In 1984, at the urging of a new mother, I set out to write a breastfeeding book.  In 1985, The Nursing Mother’s Companion was born and became an instant best seller.  In 1987, I gave birth to my second child, and as with my firstborn, I encountered new nursing issues; severe tongue-tie and colic associated with a wheat allergy.  Five other breastfeeding books followed over the years.  I also opened a small maternity store in San Luis Obispo.

In 2002, I began treatment for breast cancer. I kept a positive outlook and after a year of treatment the old hospital closed and my clinic was given to a for-profit health company. They cut my position as the Director of the Clinic along with the clerk, but the clinic did go on. While very sad for me, I decided to concentrate on my store and continue answering calls on the Warmline and seeing moms in the store on week-ends.  Most recently, I was invited by Jessica Martin Weber, the founder of “The Leaky B@@b”, to answer mothers’ questions and concerns.

So a friend asked me recently, why do I enjoy being a Lactation Consultant?  I was taken back a bit but as I thought about it, I realized that I love mothers!  No, I am not mushy about newborns like many others probably are, but I love the vulnerable new mother.  She may cry and be worried.  She may feel inadequate and unsure.  Her husband or partner may or may not understand the depth of her feelings.  But I do…….  I feel the love she has for this precious new being and how deeply she wants to be successful as her very first task of motherhood; feeding her baby at her breast.  I love the challenge of discovering the issues at hand and I absolutely love the high of assisting her becoming a “pro” at comforting and nourishing her little miracle.  We hug afterward and sometimes months or even years later I may encounter her again and I have forgotten her name and problems, she says to me, “You were the one who helped me nurse my baby”.  Nothing better in the whole world!

Kathleen

So now, you know some things about me.