For the past six months, I have been preparing to open my lactation services private practice in an effort to breathe encouragement and confidence into families who are trying to figure out why breastfeeding “isn’t coming naturally.” But really, this journey first started almost 14 years ago when I had my first child.
“I can’t believe they’re sending me home with a whole human life in my hands, without even a test to see if I am competent enough for this!”
I will save the details of my labor experience for another post but I will just say I was left feeling unheard, rushed, and like I was an object instead of, a real person with real feelings. I was sent home from the hospital about 24 hours after giving birth and I vividly remember thinking, “I can’t believe they’re sending me home with a whole human life to be in charge of, without even a test to see if I am competent enough for this!”
Fast forward nine years and there I was in the delivery room again, this time as a Labor and Delivery Nurse. God has a sense of humor! I immediately knew this was what I was born to do; Give women and families a voice during one of the most intimate and vulnerable times in their lives. Everyone assumes I do Labor and Delivery because I love babies and while that is true, what I love most is partnering with a mom and her family and ensuring they are safe and heard through their labor. “This is it,” I said to myself. What else could I ask for? I had found my calling. I truly believe that God hand-picks each of my patients for specific reasons and I am so grateful for this intervention.
I’ve since had the opportunity to work at different hospitals, which provided me the opportunity to learn Postpartum Nursing as well and that is where I first began providing lactation support. Postpartum nursing opened my eyes to a sea of women from all cultures who felt just like I did when going home with their new baby…..unequipped, unfamiliar, insecure, and anxious. The main source of anxiety and insecurity stemmed from feeling ill-equipped to breastfeed their baby.
I started to focus more time on providing lactation support and education to my patients before they were discharged from the hospital. Because I remember what it felt like to be rushed, pressured, and judged–not to mention a seeming disregard for my body parts when I was a new mom in the hospital, I practice being very careful, thoughtful, respectful, and relaxed when working with moms. There is something incredible, magical even, about working with a mom who is discouraged, sleep-deprived, hormonal, and miserable one minute and then after some explanation and coaching, feels her baby properly latched for the first time without pain! Somehow, they miraculously get a burst of energy, encouragement, confidence, and hope. Oh, and the rest of her family does too!
Too many times the lactation support ends in the hospital. Many of my patients have told me (in English & Spanish) they did not seek out help from a Lactation Consultant because of fear of judgment for using a pacifier, co-sleeping, or using a bottle. Sometimes it was even a fear of feeling culturally misunderstood. And so, it was through these patient experiences that Milk Diva was born.
Milk Diva Lactation Services aims to meet people where they are, with no judgment or pressure. No need to explain why you have bottles in the sink or pacifiers velcroed everywhere. No need to explain why you want to pump, wean, or supplement or why you are breastfeeding your two-year-old and infant. Milk Diva offers a judgment-free zone for families seeking breastfeeding support.
Thank you to all my patients who shared so much of yourself with me and let me be part of such an important and intimate part of your story.