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IBCLC

Gold Coast Doulas Saturday Series: Comfort Measures for Labor, Breastfeeding, and Newborn Survival Classes. goldcoastdoulas.com/events

Saturday Series of Classes: Podcast Episode #102

Kristin Revere, Kelly Emery, and Alyssa Veneklase talk about their Saturday Series of classes offered through Gold Coast Doulas.  Each goes in to detail about what their classes cover including Comfort Measures for Labor, Breastfeeding, and Newborn Survival.  You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes or SoundCloud.

 

Kristin:  Welcome to Ask the Doulas with Gold Coast Doulas.  I am Kristin, and I’m here today with Alyssa and Kelly, and the three of us teach our Saturday Series of classes.  So we’re going to talk about what each of our classes are and a bit about what we’re doing during COVID.  So welcome, Kelly, and welcome, Alyssa.

Kelly: Thank you.

Alyssa:  Hey.  So, yeah, we could kind of talk first about why we — so we used to teach all of our classes separately and have different days and different times, but then we had clients who were taking a breastfeeding class and my newborn class, and they would be on separate days, separate times, and we know how hard it is for people to coordinate their schedules.  So doing them all at once in a series on Saturday, and then Kristin adding on her comfort measures — you know, having three classes — it’s hard to find three nights in a week that either a pregnant person or a couple can both get off to take these classes.

Kristin:  Right, and some of our clients work nights, and if they have other children at home, childcare has been easier to find on a Saturday than a weeknight.  So that’s part of why we adapted to this format, and it’s also helpful that the Saturday Series is ala cart, so a client or student could sign up for just Kelly’s breastfeeding class or, you know, just the newborn class or all three.  Or they can take them at different times, since we offer the classes every couple months.  A client could take a class in September and then down the road later in the year take breastfeeding, for example, as it gets closer to their due date.

Alyssa:  And for the students who do choose all three and do them on the same date, it can definitely be a long day.  When we were doing the classes in person, we had a lunch break and then another break in between.  But the feedback we’ve gotten so far is that people really like knocking these out one after another.  And then because of COVID, they’ve been virtual, so that’s actually been kind of nice.  They don’t have to leave their sofa.  They can feel a little bit more relaxed, grab snacks.  So that’s worked out well, too.  But our next series is in September, and we plan on doing it in person for the first time since COVID, but that could change at any minute, depending on…

Kristin:  Right.  And our office is in Eastown, and we’ve talked about having a smaller class size and how we’re going to pivot due to COVID and all of, you know, the sanitation that will need to be done.  But our Zoom classes have been going well.  I wasn’t so sure about the fact that Comfort Measures is so hands-on, how that would work virtually, but the students seem to enjoy it, and they were hands-on as I instructed virtually.  So it went over pretty well the first time.

Alyssa:  Same with breastfeeding.  How does that — you know, you had said, Kelly, that it was going well virtually, but were you a little bit nervous at first about, you know, like, how do you show a position and, you know, what a proper latch might look like, through a computer?

Kelly:  Yeah.  Yeah, that was something — speaking of pivoting, we had to do pretty quickly because people were still having babies and they’re still learning to breastfeed.  That is not something in life that can just stop.  So, yeah, getting up and going on the Zoom and all the technology was rapid, and it was — it’s pretty slick.  You know, what I do is just like in the in-person classes, I show videos, and so I can share my screen.  I show videos, clips of things that — it will make more sense when they actually have their baby, but I think instead of me just talking about it, showing a visual and the videos and all of the pictures that I have.  I have just a slew of pictures over my 20-some years of doing this, so it’s able — the people are able to really see what I’m talking about better when I share my screen.  So it’s all actually working out, and the parents love it.  And, you know, they love being together in a class together, but also I’ve gotten great feedback about the Zoom classes, that they love that they can just sit on their own couch in their pajamas and eat dinner, you know, or eat a meal and have Dad be right there with them, as well.  So it’s all working out.

Alyssa:  Well, Kristin, do you want to talk about — so the series kind of starts with the Comfort Measures.  Then it’s Breastfeeding, and then Newborn Survival.  So you want to maybe in that order talk about each of our classes and what they’re about?

Kristin:  Yes.  So Comfort Measures is a hands-on class that the couple is encouraged to attend, but certainly I’ve had the birthing person attend without a partner, as well.  And so we go over breathing, relaxation, and it definitely doesn’t replace a traditional comprehensive childbirth class.  I’m not going to cover the stages of labor in two hours.  But it’s more about different positions that will relieve discomfort, both while they’re at home, if they’re birthing in the hospital, in the early stages of labor, or positions to utilize further along in labor in the active stage as well as the pushing stage.  And we do cover breathing, as well.

Alyssa:  So is it more to have the partner understand what’s going on and allow the partner to offer these comfort measures?

Kristin:  The partner does learn how to do some of the different measures.  Hands-on massage, light touch massage is covered.  We go over hip squeezes and a lot of the doula tools, just a variety of positions, like hands and knees and leaning up against a wall and dancing, sort of rocking in labor, as well as, you know, using the birthing ball.  And then we talk about different positions that they could consider pushing in, like squatting and sidelying.  And I answer questions, and there are some handouts that they use to just get a comfort level for where the partner and the birthing person are at as far as what their expectations of birth are and how comfortable they are supporting a partner.  So there’s a lot of communication in the short class, as well.

Alyssa:  And Kelly, what about your class?

Kelly:  It’s called Breastfeeding: Getting a Strong Start, and it’s a lot about — my goal, anyway, is to get the mom and her partner comfortable and feeling confident about at least starting out.  You know, I think it’s sometimes overwhelming.  It is a three-hour class, so it is a long time, and a lot of content is covered, but my goal is not to, like, overwhelm the parents with, like, what to do over the next, like, two years of breastfeeding or whatever, like that.  Because I think people in this moment when you’re pregnant, especially, you can take little chunks of information that are going to be relevant to you in the moment.  And so just getting off to a strong start, at least to get you through those first early days and weeks, you know, of breastfeeding, and then let you exhale a little bit and kind of find your answers as they are relevant to you is something that I’ve found over the years of doing this, honing, about what moms really want to know and what they need to know in the beginning.  So I might go over — I’m a really strong proponent of going over anatomy in the beginning, just because I think if moms know how their breasts work and how their babies work, they can figure out — they can put a lot of these dots together and make it make sense for them in their situation.  So, for instance, one of the first things I talk about in anatomy is, like, in our middle school health ed class, we skipped right over the breasts, I’m quite sure.  You know, they talk about your periods and, you know, maybe some birth control.  I don’t know.  I don’t even remember what they all talked about.  But I don’t remember talking about lactation or anything about the breasts other than that they get bigger, and then you wear a bra.  That’s about it.  And so I’m like, wait, wait, wait.  This is an incredible two glands we have here that sustain life.  They have so much to do and so much to contribute, and they’re kind of a natural next stage of being pregnant is lactating.  So it’s kind of all jumbled up together there, and I feel like in our society we kind of — as women, we’ve kind of not learned a lot about our breasts.  So I talk about what’s happening while we’re pregnant, what happens in the first couple days after delivery, and then how lactation and how their breasts change and make milk and all these other wonderful things that they do in the days and weeks, you know, after delivery.  Yeah.  So I’m big on helping women know about their bodies and then seeing how it works, and then I think it’s less of a mystery when things unfold because we just — you’re like, oh, yeah, we talked about.  That’s what I’m supposed to be doing, or that’s what my breasts are supposed to be doing.  Those little bumps on my areola, they mean something and they do play a role.

Alyssa:  What do those mean?

Kelly:  Those are your Montgomery glands, and they enlarge, you know, when you’re pregnant.  They secrete a couple things.  One is — it’s almost like a self-cleaning oven.  One is that they secrete the substance that kind of — it’s an antimicrobial, so kills bacteria.  It kind of keeps your nipples clean and your areola clean so you don’t have to scrub them.  A long time ago, like back in the ’50s, we used to think you had to scrub your nipples, and believe it or not, we would put alcohol on them before the baby would — like, we would sterilize your nipples, like we did with bottle nipples, before we would put the baby on you.  Just ridiculous.  And come to find out, you know, Mother Nature’s already taken care of that with those Montgomery glands.  Another thing that they do is they secrete — it’s an exocrine gland, which means it excretes something, you know, kind of like a sweat gland.  So they also secrete something that kind of keeps your nipple from drying out.  Keeps it kind of supple and moist.

Alyssa:  Kind of lubricated a little bit?

Kelly:  Yeah.  So all of those things — and one of the reasons I mention that is when moms think, oh, I have to buy some lanolin or some nipple ointment, those things are fine if you want to use them, but just use them just on your nipple.  You don’t have to smear it all over your areola because they can — if you smear up too much, they can block off those Montgomery glands, and then they can’t do their job.  So that’s one of the first things I talk about because it’s one of the most visible things you see when you get pregnant is your areola gets the little bumps on them, and then they darken and, you know, all of these things happening.  And then the next thing, the other part, huge part of the class, is getting the partner involved.  The baby’s other parent is going to be a huge part of breastfeeding, and I go over the research of how statistically, whether breastfeeding works or not has a lot to do with the mother’s partner and the worth that they feel and that togetherness.  And I joke that, you know, they’re going to be with you at 2:00 a.m., not me, and they’re the ones who know what motivationally you need to hear in the moment.  You know, what gets you — what makes you feel better.  What kind of cookies do you like?  What do you need in that moment?  And the partner is more tuned into that than I am, of course, you know.  So I can give some technical advice if I’m working with you postpartum to help with breastfeeding, but the partner is going to be there to be the other really important team member, and so that’s why I super, super encourage them to come to the class.  The in-person class or the Zoom class, any kind of class, so there’s four ears listening to all of this and not just two.  For the mom to have to listen to it and then go back and regurgitate it all, you know, it’s another burned on her, and she may forget things.  And I spend a lot of the time giving advice about what dads and partners can do to be helpful because I think they feel like they’re on the sidelines and they can’t be a part of breastfeeding.  And so I totally dispel that, and I give them lots of things, you know, concrete things that they can do that can be very helpful to breastfeeding.

Alyssa:  I know that everyone who’s taken your class has told me they love it.  They think you’re just so knowledgeable, and they had no idea about all these things, and they definitely go into it feeling more confident.

Kelly:  Awesome.  That’s my goal.

Alyssa:  Was there anything else you wanted to say about your class?

Kelly:  Well, I just want to say that I love being part of this entire series because knowing that I’m part of blending it together, like the big picture — like, the labor feeds into the breastfeeding.  The breastfeeding really ties closely with the newborn survival.  They’re all so well-interwoven that I think it’s great for the parents to have all of this information at once or, you know, dole it out as they need to, but just to have all of the information because then they get a sense of the bigger picture, I think.  It just makes total sense when all of these are taken together.  So I’m happy to be a part of this series, for sure.

Alyssa:  We’re happy you are a part!

Kristin:  So at what stage in pregnancy would you suggest someone take your breastfeeding class?  And I’ll also ask the same question of Alyssa and then answer that myself.

Kelly:  I would say the seventh month.  I wouldn’t wait to the last month because there’s a lot going on, you might go early, blah-blah-blah.  But, you know, you can take it in your ninth month, for sure.  But, yeah, I would say the third trimester would be good, start of the third trimester.

Kristin: Alyssa?  What would you say for Newborn Survival?

Alyssa:  You know, I would say third trimester, too, just so that this all is fresh in their heads.  The only problem is waiting that long, we do go over some items that are — you know, like baby registry items.  And by that point, usually they’ve already registered or had baby showers and gotten everything.  So that makes that a little bit irrelevant.  We still go over it, and I tell them, you know, keep things in packages with tags on.  If you don’t use them, you can always return them.  So we still go over it, but I think to do it any earlier, you’d kind of forget all of the stuff we’ve gone over.

Kristin:  I would say ideally the third trimester, though I’ve had students take it in the second trimester and still retain the information and practice the hands-on techniques that they learn.  A lot of my students also have doulas within Gold Coast or are working with me directly, so, of course, the doula is a great reminder of the different positions and comfort measures for labor and also some of the relaxation techniques that we learn.  And, certainly, you know, as far as who should take the class, we are also quite different from other childbirth education classes in that many are suited — just like Bradley method, for example, just for one type of birth.  Like, for those seeking an unmedicated birth.  For Comfort Measures, I have clients who want an epidural as soon as they get to the hospital or, you know, are having a home birth or are seeking an unmedicated hospital birth, so a variety of situations.  And, Kelly, I know that you have students who want to pump, and you do, of course, have the pumping class, the back to work pumping.  But it’s not for one type of parent or birthing person.  I know, Alyssa, you have everyone from attachment parents taking your newborn class to those who are more mainstream in parenting style.

Alyssa:  Yeah.  You kind of have to be open to all of the options and all of the parenting styles.  I would say, you know, for yours, it’s important.  Kelly, you know they’re going to breastfeed if they’re taking your class, or at least going to attempt it.  And I don’t know in my class, so I go over if they’re not breastfeeding.  We’ll go over bottle feeding.  Maybe they want to just pump exclusively and bottle feed.  I go over it very briefly.  Sometimes I can completely skip it because they’ve also taken your class, Kelly, and I don’t need to go over anything.

Kelly:  I think with my breastfeeding class, you’re right, there are some moms who just want to pump and bottle feed, and we do go over working and bottle feeding and how to combine all of that, for sure.  But even the part about the anatomy that I was telling you about, it’s good for the moms to know the anatomy of how, also, to maximize that with a pump, because there are ways — the ways that some of our hormones work with a baby, trying to also trigger those with a pump takes a little bit of knowledge, you know, and a little bit of practice.  So even if you’re not going to breastfeed, knowing about your breasts and how they work would benefit you even if you’re going to be pumping, because then you can work with a pump to work with your anatomy and how all of the pumping and maintaining your milk supply goes together.

Alyssa:  I feel like I should sit through your class.  I haven’t sat through yours, and I always love having a refresher on breastfeeding because when I’m working with sleep clients, we talk about feeding a lot.  So I feel like I should put the next September Series class on my calendar to sit in yours.

Kelly:  I know, and I should — I want to learn more about your sleeping, too, because that’s a big question when it comes around to breastfeeding.  They are so intricately tied together.

Alyssa:  So my Newborn Survival class, I started or I created because, you know, working as a postpartum doula — I don’t anymore, but when I did, you start hearing the same questions and same concerns from the parents over and over.  If only someone had told me this!  Why didn’t I know that?  How come nobody told me that this would happen?  When you start hearing the same things over, then I’m like, yeah, I had these same concerns and questions and fears when I was a new mom, too.  So I just kind of started compiling all these things and talking to experts and put this Newborn Survival class together, and it has real-life scenarios.  Like, things that happened to me, things that happened, you know, in my work, and how do we deal with these?  And then it’s very — you know, we do talk about, hey, has anyone changed a diaper?  If they haven’t, we’ll show them.  But that’s probably the most surface level type stuff.  I want to get into, hey, babies cry.  There’s no way around it.  How do we minimize that?  What do we check for?  And how do you communicate?  Like, you and your baby are a team, and from a very, very young age, they are communicating with you, and you need to figure that out.  So just giving them really pragmatic steps to — you know, the first few weeks, your baby’s just going to eat, sleep, poop, pee.  That’s about it.  But once, you know, six weeks rolls around, there’s kind of this schedule forming.  You probably have a pretty good idea of when they want to eat.  Maybe you start to see some sleep patterns forming by six to nine weeks.  And then if they’re crying, what does that mean?  What causes that crying?  How do we stop that crying?  What happened when the crying started?  And then talking a lot about feeding.  People usually want to ask me a lot of sleep questions, even though this isn’t a sleep class.  We go over sleep.  But a lot of it’s, well, you know, if my baby’s not sleeping well, do I just let them cry?  Never, never, never is my answer; never.  No.  We don’t just let them cry.  But if they’re not eating enough, no amount of letting your baby sit in that crib will do any good because they’re hungry.  So we talk a lot about feeding, whether it’s breastfeeding or bottle feeding.  And then we go over things like, you know, common skin issues.  Like, everyone always gets weirded out by cradle cap and baby acne and maybe some rashes, diaper rash.  And then like I mentioned, we go over some things that are not worth spending your money on.  Here’s some things you really need.  And then talking, too, about the partners keeping communication open and setting goals and expectations for each other ahead of time, because once that baby comes, you don’t have the time or mental wherewithal to be dealing with that in the moment at 3:00 in the morning.  So if you have these expectations set ahead of time, it’s really important.  And then obviously talking about, you know, letting them know that there are resources available.  They don’t have to go through this alone.  There are — you know, Kelly’s a lactation consultant.  She can do an in-person or a Zoom visit.  We have postpartum doulas who work day and night.  All these resources are available to them.  And then we go over a lot of soothing methods.  I show them my swaddling methods.  And we talk about bathing, too.  Bathing is a big one for parents that they’re usually kind of freaked out about.  But yeah, it’s just kind of how to survive those first few weeks or months home with a new baby because it’s a little bit scary when you walk through that door for the first time holding a human that you have to keep alive.

Kristin:  Great summary!  So let’s talk a little bit about — again, we mentioned breaks within the format and a little bit of the timing structure of each class.  So the Saturday Series usually starts off with my Comfort Measures class.  We have switched our schedule a few times, but my class is two hours from 9:00 to 11:00, and then there is a lunch break.  And then we get into Kelly’s class.  And, Kelly, you mentioned your class is three hours.  And then there’s a short break, and then Alyssa has an hour and a half for Newborn Survival.

Alyssa:  Yeah.  I think there’s a half an hour break to grab a snack, go to the bathroom.

Kristin:  Right.  And then as far as the fee for the class — again, the classes are a la carte so you could purchase one class or all three, and each class is $75.  And traditional insurance does not cover the Saturday Series, but if a student has a health savings or flex spending, most plans do cover childbirth classes.

Kelly:  And I would add, Kristin, on the same for breastfeeding classes.  As part of the Affordable Care Act, breastfeeding support and supplies and education should be covered, and I provide a superbill for my class as well with all of my codes and my tax ID number and everything that they would need to self-submit.

Kristin:  Fantastic.  And, Kelly, did you want to touch on your pumping class that’s separate from the Saturday Series?

Kelly:  Yeah.  I have a class for moms who want to go deeper into just the pumping.  During my Saturday Series, I will go over some pumping and working and everything, but to dive deeper into that of what that looks like on a professional level and an emotional level, like leaving your baby, what that’s like, and if I have to travel, and how do I maintain a milk supply and what if my milk supply goes low?  Lots of little details swirling around.  If you’re still having, you know, after this class, if you’re still having questions about that, or if you want to skip over the whole breastfeeding class and just do the pumping and working one, I have a class, and you can just go to my website and you’ll see.  It’s called Work Pump Balance, and it’s an almost-three hour class in and of itself.  It’s self-paced modules that you can go through, and it’s myself and then a — my friend Mita, and she pumped for a year for both of her kids and worked full time.  She had a very demanding career in a very male-dominated industry, and she made it work.  She gives a lot of insight about how — you know, a lot of the laws have changed since she’s done it, so that only benefits moms even more.  But how to logistically travel and calling clients and work around this when you’re really the only female in the whole — it’s a big company, but you’re the only female around.  So, yeah, we dive deeper into that.

Kristin:  Fantastic.  And Gold Coast also offers a private multiples class for any of our clients or students who are expecting twins or triplets.  So we do offer each of the individual Saturday Series of class privately, since our Series is offered every couple of months.  There is the option of taking just breastfeeding privately through Zoom and/or, depending on COVID, in person.  So did each of you want to — I know, Alyssa, you just recently taught a newborn class on Zoom.

Alyssa:  Yeah.  We just did a private one because they were being induced this week.  So we just did it last week.  Yeah.  It’s great.  It kind of allows the couple an opportunity to ask the questions that they might be afraid to ask in front of other people, although I feel like with my class specifically, I make it very clear that there’s no such thing as a stupid question, and I think most of the students do feel very comfortable asking anything.  But it’s just a little different when it’s just me with one couple.  They can ask whatever they want freely.  And I do get told that it’s nice for them to learn the same techniques together so that it’s not, you know, one person saying, well, I think we should do that, and I think we should do that.  You know, they can kind of take all the information I’ve given and make their own decisions from there based on what they’re comfortable with.  So I’ve been told several times that they like that they’re hearing the same information together and not different information from different people at different times.

Kristin:  That makes sense, and yeah, it is nice that if someone wants to take a class last minute or wants the individual attention.  My students have enjoyed just being able to customize the comfort measures based on what their birthing goals are.

Alyssa:  Yeah.  So if anyone wants to register, they can go to our website and register for, like we said, one, two, or all three.  We also have the Multiple class and a HypnoBirthing Series.  And you can always reach out to any of us with questions.

Kelly:  I appreciate you doing this, and I’m looking forward to the next class in September.

Kristin:  Thanks for listening to Ask the Doulas with Gold Coast Doulas.  You can find us on SoundCloud, iTunes, and on our website.  These moments are golden.

 

Saturday Series of Classes: Podcast Episode #102 Read More »

Kelly Wysocki-Emery

Meet our new IBCLC, Kelly Wysocki-Emery!

We are thrilled to have Kelly join the Gold Coast Team. Many of our doulas have used Kelly personally for lactation consultations with their own children. She comes to us with years of experience and a trusted name in the community.

1) What did you do before you became a lactation consultant?

In a former life, I was on a path to become a counseling psychologist. I was working on grad school in Oklahoma when I had my first baby; my life course then changed dramatically. My undergraduate degrees were in psychology and education, which serendipitously helped in my final career choice as a lactation consultant.

2) What inspired you to become a doula/lactation consultant?

I think it’s so true that we become what we wish we had. I was certified as a doula in the early 90s after having a difficult postpartum period with my first baby. I lived many states away from my family and friends, and felt the isolation and loneliness hard. I also had a rough time breastfeeding. As I crawled out the other side, I decided to help other women who were going through the same experiences I had been through. In the end, I gave up the doula role, went back to nursing school, and continued earning experience and education to become a lactation consultant.

3) Tell us about your family.

I have two adult children, girl and boy (or a woman and a man, now!), and four step-children; so six “kids” in our blended family. Although the kids are spread out over the country, we still get together throughout the year to enjoy each other’s company. My husband is an emergency medicine physician, who also works in medical education at Michigan State University. I am expecting my first grandchild in July of 2020, and am so VERY excited about that!

4) What is your favorite vacation spot and why?

Anywhere I can be warm and near water, and not have to wear shoes or a coat! I’d have to say Greece, if I had to be more specific. I went to Greece to help pregnant/breastfeeding refugee women in 2017, and fell in love with the place so much that two years later I returned for a vacation there with my girlfriends. I definitely will be going back with my husband in the upcoming years. The climate AND the history/culture/people/food of Greece have won over my heart forever.

5) Name your top five bands/musicians and tell us what you love about them.

Patty Griffin – She sings the raw truth with her beautiful voice. Got me through my divorce intact.

Beatles – I discovered them in early college and connected immediately.

Eagles – A band from my childhood with so many songs that spark memories for me.

Eminem – Don’t ask me why. I just do. Don’t judge me.

Aerosmith – I have a secret thing for Steven Tyler. Again, don’t ask why. I just do.

6) What is the best advice you have given to new families?

Your baby is going to love you no matter what. Remember the big picture: Lead with love. You are not alone in what you are experiencing, and it can, and does, get better in time. Hang in there!

Oh, and you’re doing much better than you think you are!

7) What do you consider your lactation superpower to be?

I’m pretty good at getting babies off nipple shields. Not every single time, but often I can do it!

8) What is your favorite food?

Lately, I am really enjoying miso soup and sushi at Ando.

9) What is your favorite place in West Michigan’s Gold Coast? 

I’ve moved downtown and live by the Grand River now, so my husband and I really love walking or biking up and down the river, exploring the landscape, watching the fish and birds (the Osprey are our favorite), and seeing the city grow and change each and every year. We can really stare at the water all day and be content.

10) What are you reading now?

Just finished up Tongue Tied by Richard Baxter. Very interesting new research and helpful modalities for babies who are having trouble latching/nursing.

11) Who are your role models?

My mother, who taught me about unconditional love, loyalty, how to work hard and do things that you are afraid to do, how to make people feel welcome, and how to have fun.

My husband for his incredible work ethic and ability to plan for the long-term; I continue to learn so much from him about how to have a healthy relationship with money.

 

Meet our new IBCLC, Kelly Wysocki-Emery! Read More »

lactation consultant

Meet our new IBCLC, Cami!

We are so excited to announce that we now have a Lactation Consultant on the lakeshore! Cami comes to Gold Coast with an amazing medical background and almost 20 years of experience as an IBCLC. Let’s get to know her a little better.

1) What did you do before you became an IBCLC?

I have been an RN for 28 years.  I worked many years in the Surgical Critical Care unit at Spectrum Hospital. Once I started my family, I switched to Labor & Deliver, Special Care Nursery, Postpartum Care and normal newborn nursery, mainly working Labor & Delivery and Special Care Nursery.   After my first child was born in 2000 I began helping in the Lactation Office, and became an International Board Certified Lactation Consult in 2001. After many years of working many positions on the birthing center, I began to concentrate on my skills as a Lactation Consultant. I have been working in the field of Lactation soley since 2010.

2) What inspired you to become an IBCLC?

While working on the birthing center, I found I truly enjoyed working with the mother baby dyad and their breastfeeding journey.

3) Tell us about your family.

I’m a single mom of two children. My son Jarek is 19 and just recently joined the Air Force. My daughter Skyler is 16 and is just finishing up her Sophomore year at Zeeland East High School.

4) What is your favorite vacation spot and why?

With a busy family life, vacations are hard to come by. My daughter and I enjoy horseback riding, feral cat/kitten rescue, hiking the lake shore, and hammocking. My son and I enjoy hanging out together watching movies, working on his car, and attending car shows.

5) Name your top five bands/musicians and tell us what you love about them.

I enjoy all types of music, however my go to music is 80-90’s Alternative. Bands such as The Cure, Smiths, Cranberries, and the Pixies.

6) What is the best advice you have given to new families? 

My advice to new families is to be open to change, talk to your partner open and honestly. Enjoy every step, the good and the challenging because the days go by quickly.

7) What do you consider your superpower to be?

I find that as a Lactation Consultant I’m able to connect with families and help moms reach their goals. I love new families, and it shows in how passionate I am at what I do.

8) What is your favorite food? 

I love finding new fresh foods. I have Celiac disease and enjoy turning normal dishes that I grew up with into Gluten Free dishes. Italian food and desserts are my two loves.

9) What is your favorite place in West Michigan’s Gold Coast? 

Saugatuck Dunes is my favorite place to hike and to enjoy the coastline of Lake Michigan. I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy horseback riding on West Michigan beautiful beaches, enjoying summer rides, and even a few Christmas eve rides with the snow billowing around my horse and I.

10) What are you reading now?

I’ve recently been reading about and studying the Baby Friendly Initiative, and I have been involved with research over the years to help determine what can help increase the breastfeeding rates in MI. I’ve just joined an amazing group of woman on the lakeshore to form the first Ottawa County Breastfeeding Coalition.

11) Who are your role models? 

My Grandmother and Mother are my biggest role models. My Grandmother passed away many years ago, but she was a huge influence in my life, always showing love to anyone in need. She raised 12 amazing children.  My Mom has always been my biggest supporter and has the same spirit as her Mother. She has a huge heart and passion for life. She has helped mold me into the Mother and friend that I am today.

 

Meet our new IBCLC, Cami! Read More »

The BIG Latch On 2017 Logo in color

The Big Latch On – Grand Rapids 2017

 

World breastfeeding week is coming up! Why do we care?  

Each year, World Breastfeeding Week presents many opportunities to celebrate and promote breastfeeding. From August 1-7, this global movement strives to support breastfeeding by cultivating awareness and cooperation within and between communities worldwide. One big way we come together during World Breastfeeding week is with The Global Big Latch On.

The Big Latch On: 

The Global Big Latch On was started in 2010, and has since taken place annually during World Breastfeeding Week every August. Big Latch On events are held in communities throughout the world, with the shared goal to protect, promote & support families, strengthen support for breastfeeding, and improve the health of children and women around the world.

The Global Big Latch On reports that these events are “community initiatives that raise awareness of breastfeeding, encourage the formation of support networks between breastfeeding persons, and aim to normalize breastfeeding as a part of daily life”.

What to expect when you attend a Big Latch On Event:

Families with breastfeeding children (this includes all forms of providing breastmilk, including pumped milk, supplemental nursing systems, etc.) gather together to show support for our breastfeeding community, and to be counted for the Global Big Latch On count – where we strive to break the record numbers that were set the previous year. When you arrive you’ll be asked to sign in, get comfortable, and then at the same time, all the nursing babies/kids at each event location will be instructed to “latch on” (or otherwise demonstrate their means of receiving breastmilk), the organizers will count each participant, and send those numbers in to The Global Big Latch On headquarters be tallied with the numbers from other events all over the world.

Often there are snacks provided, fun giveaways, and an opportunity to connect with other families as well as some local family-friendly businesses and services.

Since 2010, attendance to these events has skyrocketed. In 2010 there were 147 total locations with ~2,000 babies counted. Just 6 years later in 2016, there were 758 locations in 21 countries, with nearly 18,000 nursing babies/children counted! Last year in Grand Rapids we had 45 nursing babies. We’re sure 2017 is going to be even bigger. Come help us break some records!

More information is available here.

With events planned for all around the world, including multiple locations in Michigan, we excitedly prepare to come together in Grand Rapids at our own local Big Latch On Event on Saturday, August 5th 10:00am-11:30am at Briggs Park in NE Grand Rapids. Make sure to sign in before 10:30am to be counted! Bring your picnic blanket and get comfy, mingle with other families, or just come to show your support.

Global Big Latch On objectives:

  • Provide support for communities to identify and grow opportunities to provide ongoing breastfeeding support and promotion in local communities.
  • Raise awareness of breastfeeding support and knowledge available locally and globally.
  • Help communities positively support breastfeeding in public places.
  • Make breastfeeding as normal part of day-to-day life at a local community level.
  • Increase support for women who breastfeed – women are supported by their partners, family and their communities.
  • Ensure communities have the resources to advocate for coordinated appropriate and accessible breastfeeding support services.

Other related World Breastfeeding Week Celebrations include Express Yourself (for all those women who provide breast milk to their child/children without latching them and those that donate milk either formally or informally) and Selfies Sunday (a count of all breastfeeding or expressing selfies posted on Sunday, August 6th with the hashtag #mybiglatchon).

Why is this important? Why do we participate?

Breastfeeding around the world deserves recognition and celebration! Some people don’t understand the hype around breastfeeding promotion. After all, we each have the right to feed how we choose; why all the attention for breastfeeding? Well, while I agree that parents should never be bullied or shamed about their feeding choices, I believe (and research consistently supports) that most parents, to varying degrees, want to breastfeed. We know this because the vast majority of families in the United States start off breastfeeding, or at least make an effort to. But despite this obvious desire to provide breastmilk, there remains a wide discrepancy between what is recommended, parents’ reported goals, and what is actually being done.

And we know that breastmilk is not only valuable to individuals for optimal nutrition, immune properties, and more, but many don’t realize how much breastfeeding is also an important and growing public health issue, as breastfeeding is associated with lower rates of obesity, diabetes, and many other health concerns that extend beyond infancy.

In the United States, breastfeeding initiation rates are quite high (80-90+% in many states), but quickly decline within the first 3 months (despite recommendations by both the World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics to provide breastmilk exclusively for 6 months).

We are not meeting our national breastfeeding goals, and in many cases not our individual goals either. Reasons for this vary from family to family, but three big ones are:

  1. Lack of breastfeeding education: Lack of understanding about normal breastfed baby behavior, lack of understanding about how breastmilk production works, lack of information and resources for troubleshooting issues when challenges do arise.

Studies suggest that more than 90% of breastfeeding moms report having struggled or encountered a challenge during the early weeks of breastfeeding. This statistic isn’t intended to be discouraging, but rather to normalize the experience of struggling to breastfeed, to say, “just because you experience a problem doesn’t mean breastfeeding isn’t right for you or isn’t going to work for you”. Often it’s just a matter of having access to good information and support to get through the rough patches.

  1. Going back to work or school: Poor maternity leave rights and lack of options put most U.S. women in a position to return to work in the early months of life, often sooner than they may want to, which can disrupt the breastfeeding relationship.
  2. Lack of community support: Breastfeeding in the U.S. has been on the rise since the early 1990s, but we still don’t have a deep breastfeeding culture. Formula-feeding is still very much a cultural norm in many parts of the country. We no longer live in villages with extended family and other parents caring for babies in community. We suffer from a deficit of breastfeeding normalization, meaning most of us in the U.S. don’t experience many opportunities to witness, watch and learn from other breastfeeding moms when we are young. Many modern parents enter their own breastfeeding relationships in relative isolation, with little understanding of breastfeeding norms, and oftentimes less than adequate support to meet their own goals.

In many parts of the world, including the United States, breastfeeding can really benefit from more attention and support.

2017 marks World Breastfeeding Week’s 25th year. This year’s theme is about working together for the common good! Working together to “call on advocates and activists, attract political support, media attention, participation of young people and widen the pool of celebrants and supporters”.

Let’s come together in West Michigan to support one another, support healthy babies, and strengthen our breastfeeding community locally and globally!

Author: Shira Johnson, IBCLC

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