2018 – a year in the life of a new IBCLC

Jan 2018 – The start of 2018 saw me setting up in private practice after finally qualifying as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. Such an exciting time. It’s been such a difficult journey but finally I had qualified. Next I built the first incarnation of this website, got all my forms together, found insurance, registered my business with Lactation Consultants of Great Britain “Find an IBCLC” so that local mums could find me. It started slowly with a couple of home visits in Harrow and Uxbridge.

I also began my role as Regional Coordinator for the East for The Association of Breastfeeding Mothers. My role is to support the volunteer Breastfeeding Counsellors with their National Breastfeeding Helpline duties, and the Trainee Breastfeeding Counsellors with their training. I also organise supervision and study days. I have been a Breastfeeding Counsellor with the ABM for several years now, taking calls on the National Breastfeeding Helpline and volunteering locally. Its a wonderful organisation and I am so proud to be part of the Central Committee.

Feb 2018 – Continued with a few home visits. Also I was very proud to host a “Supporting Breastfeeding Multiples” webinar for the National Breastfeeding Helpline. The technology worked and I had lots of lovely feedback about the session. I love talking to people about how to support twin and triplet mums to fulfil their breastfeeding goals. It’s the reason I trained as a peer supporter so many years ago when my now teenage twins were just 1 year old; to try to pass forward the amazing support I had received myself. So many people, including many health professionals, believe that it is not possible to exclusively breastfeed more than one baby. But it most definitely is, and with good, knowledgeable support mums can fully breastfeed if that’s what they wish to do.

Mar 2018 – This month saw a big surge in home visits mainly due to the weather I think! Its so lovely to be able to support a new baby and mother to breastfeed in their own home without the need to battle the elements. This is me dressed for the snow walking to my home visit as it was too dangerous to drive that day.

March also saw the launch of myself and colleague Miriam Feen’s specialist breastfeeding support group, The Lactation Corner.  Myself and Miriam have worked together in the past and volunteered together for years so I was very excited about this collaboration. We have a beautiful venue at Eastcote House Gardens with a lovely light room. We have a breastfeeding group there, and also run Introduction to Solids sessions and Preparing to Breastfeed sessions.

April 2018 – This month took me all over the local area, from Harrow to Iver to Denham to Edgware to North London. This IBCLC will travel (I do try to keep it to within half an hour of my house, although I will go a bit further for a twin or triplet mum!)

April also saw my first LCGB conference. What a wonderful experience! The highlight for me was Dr Jen 4 Kids, also known as Dr Jennifer Thomas. Such an inspirational speaker and she blew my mind with further information on breastfeeding and the microbiome. And of course then there was Nancy Mohrbacher! One of my all-time breastfeeding heroes. And amongst all these was my friend and fellow Harrow Peer Supporter Zainab Yate talking about her Breastfeeding Aversion and Agitation project. I was so proud of her and all she has achieved.

May 2018 – May was far more Harrow based which was a relief for my fuel bill! Supported a mum with Insufficient Glandular Tissue to try to breastfeed. Such a heart breaking situation. Unfortunately mums with this condition can struggle to make a full supply of milk for their baby. So we discussed maximising the efficiency of the feed, and we also used a Supplementary Nursing System to give baby some extra milk. Some was donor breast milk and some formula. This is where specialist breastfeeding support really comes into its own. The health professionals who were supporting her just did not have the specialist knowledge to maximise her chances of breastfeeding and couldn’t spend the 2 hours with her which was really needed to get to the bottom of her problems.

I also had my first booking for an antenatal/postnatal package. I love talking to mums about preparing to breastfeed. Gaining knowledge of normal baby behaviour and how to tell if your baby is getting enough is incredibly valuable before baby arrives and before the brain goes to mush!

June 2018 – June is always Conference time for the Association of Breastfeeding Mothers. This was my first conference where I was on the Central Committee. I realised just how much organisation this takes! This year the highlight was a visit from Kimberley Seals Allers who flew in from the USA to talk about her book The Big Let Down. It was a very thought provoking presentation. I highly recommend reading her book.

June also brought my first support session via Skype. Such a useful medium for follow up or general breastfeeding concerns, baby behaviour, returning to work, or other non latch related scenarios.

July 2018 – Home visits continue to be steady. The Lactation Corner have also begun to offer Introduction to Solid Foods sessions. This is a lovely interactive session with evidence based information and lots of myth busting! We either host it at Eastcote House or for a group of mums I one of their houses.

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Aug 2018 – I took a few weeks off and travelled round the country a bit seeing relatives. One highlight was trying out Ivan my self-build campervan for the first time. It worked, we fitted myself, my partner and 4 children all sleeping in a campervan!

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On my return from our adventures the volume of home visits sky-rocketed over the Bank Holiday weekend and the following week. Again I was travelling far and wide from North London to West London to Uxbridge to Watford supporting mums and babies with latching difficulties.

Sept 2018 – My youngest started school. He ran in without a second look. I put this down to him being a seriously high-needs baby and toddler who was, on the whole, responded to as best as I could. He is now so securely attached that nothing phases him at all! The youngest starting school is quite a monumental thing for our family. Now all 4 kids are at school. Not all in the same school, but all in school! This means I have a bit more time to really focus on supporting more mums alongside my other work commitments. Although there still does not seem to be enough hours in the day to do everything.

I also began working at an IBCLC led breastfeeding group in NW London. Its been fantastic to work alongside such passionate and experienced IBCLCs. I’m very lucky to have been given this opportunity.

Oct 2018 – My main focus this month was hosting a National Breastfeeding Helpline Study Day for the East of England. We went to Ely, Cambridgeshire, and lots of BFN and ABM breastfeeding counsellors, trainees and mother supporters came along. Subjects covered were Breastfeeding Premature Babies, Genuine Low Milk Supply, Breastfeeding in Slings, Gentle Night Weaning, and Referral Scenarios presented by me and some of my colleagues. The day seemed to be a great success and we got really good feedback.

I also tried my hand at doing a Facebook Live session on antenatal hand expressing of colostrum. It seemed to work well. I shall do more in the future on various topics!

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Nov 2018 – November turned out to be an incredibly busy month with home visits squeezed into every available slot in the week. I also managed to find the time to attend a Tongue Tie Study Day with Sarah Oakley, IBCLC and Tongue tie Practitioner. Quite a high proportion of the mums I support are having difficulties with breastfeeding due to their baby having a tongue tie. Sometimes we manage to work around it with improved positioning and attachment and ensuring baby is feeding as effectively as possible. But sometimes we decide we need to refer on to a tongue tie practitioner to have the tongue tie divided. This session consolidated the knowledge I had already gained in my IBCLC training on how to assess a tongue tie and its impact on breastfeeding.

And my Facebook support group, Breastfeeding Twins and Triplets UK tipped the 4000 members mark. I’m so proud of that group. Its such a wonderful, empowering and friendly Facebook group. We keep it evidence based and supportive, and me and my fantastic team of admins very rarely have to step in. Its my favourite place on the internet!

Dec 2018 – Breastfeeding support calmed down a little leaving me time to go and watch the film Tigers . This is such an important film from Danis Tanovic based on the true story of former Nestle Pakistan salesman taking on the baby milk industry with the help of IBFAN. I was disappointed to miss it when it was shown a couple of years ago so when the chance came again I jumped at it. There was an added bonus as co-writer and co-producer Andy Paterson was available for a Q&A session afterwards. I have just finished off the year with a couple of home visits.

December also sees me completing a Holistic Sleep Coaching course, just the assignment to go and I will be a qualified Holistic Sleep Coach. The Holistic Sleep Coaching Program focuses on supporting and empowering parents, providing gentle strategies (based on evidence), which never involve leaving babies to cry alone. I am very excited to be able to offer this service in the new year (once I’ve completed the assignment!). Watch this space!

And of course, continuing to offer Specialist Breastfeeding Support. It’s such a privilege to be able to help mums at this important time. Thank you so much to all the families that have invited me into their home.

 

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