Life As A Lactation Consultant :: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

If you told me 15 years ago during nursing school I would be a Lactation Consultant, I would’ve laughed at your joke.  I planned on working with children with cancer in intensive care – “real” nursing. It was an awkward set of events that led me here, but I could not be happier with fate. Any working mom’s life is a constant balance of career and family, and mine is no different dealing with breasts for a living. Life on the edge with baggy-eyed, sleep-deprived women can be hard core – laughter and love within tears, laced with moments of triumph and defeat are regular occurrences in my office. I have leaned to embrace it all…the good, the bad, and the ugly!

The Good

I LOVE watching babies eat!  There is a science to the process that is simply amazing!   There is a rhythm and calm that allows me to witness some of the most peaceful, intimate moments of life – moments of true love.  When going well, successful nursing is a stunning example of synchrony, teamwork, diligence and love only uniquely displayed during one brief developmental stage.

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The Bad

Low milk supply. Milk supplies are tricky and rarely straight forward. There are many risk factors that can put new or experienced moms at risk for low milk supply: separation from baby, preterm or near term infant, anatomy, past surgeries, medical conditions, delivery complications, adoption, and returning to work.  Milk supplies are dictated by frequency of stimulation and efficiency of milk removal, which can be affected by a variety of items life throws at you.

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Rarely is it ONE thing the mom isn’t doing. Too many suggestions for new moms become overwhelming, exhausting, and anxiety producing – for even me the LC!  I watch sleep-deprived, over-Googled moms debating in their heads whether to choke down another bowl of oatmeal or set their alarm to pump during precious hours of sleep – they are  committed to doing whatever it takes to make breastfeeding successful.

The Ugly

Ugly Nipples – I have seen some crazy ugly sore nipples, open wounds, and severe trauma. Babies are cute, but what they can do to a set of nipples is not!

Ugly Cries – Sometimes you just need a good ugly cry (especially living with a newborn).  As Sadness says in Disney’s  Inside Out: “Crying helps me slow down and obsess over the weight of life’s problems.” I figure my office is a safe place to ugly cry and doing this under HIPPA consent seems like a plus!  What happens at my office, stays at my office!

All jokes aside, few have the privilege of helping new families, during some of their most intimate moments. I am one of those lucky few… embracing my role…the good, the bad and the ugly!

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