We are standing in our uniforms and she interrupts my conversation to ask, “Is that even a real thing? This lactation thingy? “
There is no attempt to hide the contempt in her voice, neither the less, I reply with confidence.
“Yes! My full title will be an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) when I pass the exam in October. “
I puff with pride with anticipation of my impending status.
A medical consultant in the room, back turned to me, shares a joke at my expense with the questioning lady. They both laugh and I falter.
I have been carting my 1000+ word textbook around with me for over a year now, fitting study into every available moment of downtime.
Once a shiny new, this expensive textbook now sports pages that are scared with notes and the spine that held it together, gave out a while ago.
Standing in a room of moking health professionals, I feel like the glue holding us both together evaporated in an instant.
This is not an uncommon experience I am told as in the UK, IBCLC’s are not a recognised professional group. A lactation consultant is not a protected term either. Yet all around the world, it is the premier, gold standard in lacation education & support.
Through their training, an IBCLC has the skills to support every parent, from the normal course of breastfeeding to helping a family navigate the complexities of lactation during cancer treatment. You will find them working as Midwives, leading Infant feeding teams within NHS trusts, and running drop in clinics within the community.
Some IBCLC’s work even harder, to enter the field as a non health care professional investing even more time and money that their health care counter parts. It is a much needed profession, with much research backing up their value.
I have been on the journey here since the first mother-baby duo I supported on a maternity ward as a college student. Since then, I have spent 1000’s of hours (paid and voluntary) & thousands of pounds working towards this goal.
Parents want to breastfeed
Here in the UK, 80% of mothers start breastfeeding, but by 6 months 1% remains breastfeeding. That’s a sharp drop off and its not down to just one thing.
Since starting this job, I have heard all the staff feeding journeys and in their vulnerable moments even seen their tears. Very few met their breastfeeding goals and even though it’s not in my job description as a Paediatric nurse to listen, it’s in my nature as a Breastfeeding Counsellor, so listen I do.
So I hear the grief behind the words, I see how it translates into resentment and undermining of other professionals & parents alike. This is not sustainable.
It’s time for change
I remember a conversation with one member of staff, who was so angry about the levels of training of health professionals helping her family. She was enraged the IBCLC they had eventually seen, said they did not fail, it was the system that failed them.
I shared with her the amount of training on breastfeeding in the various health care professionals education and we both agreed, parents & health care workers desedrve better.
There is no one easy way to change the systemic bias above but what if we rethink our approach?
What if our next efforts to normative breastfeeding start with the next generation in schools. The Association of Breastfeeding Mothers has released free lesson plans for teachers & I love this idea.
Reading through some of the exercises though, I realised that some of the content would be news to people I work within hospitals.
But if generations of children know the basics of breastfeeding, the ones who enter healthcare will already be better breastfeeding advocates without any change in training. It might just work.
Either way, the next time someone asks me,
“Is that even a real thing? This lactation thingy? “
I shall reply;
“Why yes it is, and the fact you asked illustrates perfectly why.”
Then again, maybe not 😉
Tessa Clark BSc, RNc
Balances being a Paediatric nurse, Breastfeeding counselor (private and voluntary) & IBCLC exam candidate Oct 2019 with motherhood.
What happens if someone comes in the dark of night and gifts your the confidence you need to succeed?
💭This is what happened for a family recently and with permission, I share with you what happens within babywearing consultation with me (babywearing consultation).
L I S T E N
First I listen to your needs as a family.
💭This family are planning for adoption and wanted to explore some new options for helping a new family member adjust into their home.
L O O K
We explored safety, responsive parenting & feeding.
This family showed me their sling, I then demonstrated the different slings I had with me.
💭This family wanted to focus on how slings encourage attachment (bonding), responsive parenting and any explore adaptations to use with existing children in their family.
F E E L
The fun bit for us all, parents then try on the slings!
💭For this visit, their kids were in bed so they tried a range of slings, carriers, wraps with teddies.
E V A L U A T E
We asses, have we met their needs?
💭Can you 🌷guess🌷 which each parents favorite?
Hint – it wasn’t the same for each parent!
F O L L O W
As children grow, their carrying needs change. There are adaptations for many challenges & my training helps me navigate them with you.
💭For this family, the process of adoption means the specific needs and preferences of the child are currently unknown. This means we have a few more visits planned so we can adapt as needed in the future.
🌷Service : Beyond Babyhood Consultation
🌷Time :1.5 – 2 hours
🌷Cost : poa
(Available 1hr drive in/around High Wycombe)
If you are ready to explore your babywearing needs, get in touch 🙂
I trained for four years, in busy London Childrens hospitals as Paediatric nurse, qualifying in 2011.
After becoming a mother, I discovered a new thirst for knowledge in supporting mothers with carrying and feeding.
So in 2016 I started a sling library in High Wycombe, undertook peer support training with the School of Babywearing. At the same time, I also began training to be a breastfeeding counselor (BFc) with a national breastfeeding organisation.
“I wanted to become the supporter I needed”
Running two very busy voluntary groups, working part time AND being a mum, was too much for me and my family, so I handed over the sling library to its current custodian & it is still thriving.
I have spent years and a fair amount of money volunteering, and now it is time to offer my skills to you all, so I can save you some time and hard work.
In 2018, after a few years nurturing my growing family and supporting mothers in the voluntary sector as a BFc, I made the commitment to undertake a year long breastfeeding specialist course (self funded!), with the aim of becoming an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.
I sat the exam in Oct 2019 & the results are due end of Dec 2019..
I passed 😀 This wont be news to you if are reading this after 2020. I am excited to see what this new chapter will bring to my life.
I am supporting parents in their homes, and online with feeding and carrying.
I am teaching introduction to slings workshops with in The Village Midwives Postnatal course.
I am still also…
I am working one day a week in hospital as a Paediatric nurse.
I am podcasting about feeding at carrying.
as of 2020 I will be winding down my face to face breastfeeding counseling role.
Want to work with me?
If you feel I am a good fit to support you, I look forward to hearing from you soon 🙂
In this blog:
Outgrowing first sling
Holidaying with slings
The title of this blog is a typical query for a babywearing consultant. Like most of the parents I work with, this mum has chosen to tune into her child’s needs, not turn away from them. She has met a challenge and bravely, seeks help.
Beyond Babyhood Consultation
Fast forward to our first meeting, mum explains she has a last minute invite to a holiday with friends and there is absolutely no space for a buggy.
She has seen a woven wrap back carry and wants to learn how to do it for her holiday. Maybe you have already notices, this isn’t where she ends up!
Mama explains further how her sons differing physical abilities, translates into extra cuddles when they are out and about. He is used to resting his tired legs within a pushchair or a much loved sling.
Outgrowing first sling
The problem is, this sling is now a wee bit small., no longer supporting his growing body.
It works in a pinch, and her son chimes in to show me how it digs into his legs and hurts.
We talk a bit more around safety, skill, budget and time available before the holiday.
This mum was keen to see the carry her friend had shown her, so I show her how it’s done.
Together we notice the how it’s not the right solution for them.
At this point mum and big boy seem to deflate a little. It’s not uncommon for the end result to not match the parents initial idea. Options and troubleshooting however are what I am trained to work around.
Adapting what you have already
So next I show her how she could wrap a scarf around the bottom of her existing sling to spread the weight of her son’s bottom. This seems like a workable emergency solution and we talk about the possibility of visiting the local sling library, who I know have a dedicated sling for older, diversely abled children .
Visit a sling library
I then float the idea of looking at the preschool sized Connecta/Integras and mum admits she has been looking at them but didn’t like the patterns available at the time. Ah I think, I bet this is where her heart lies. It’s like a bell goes off in my head and I know we have reached both the ‘ah ha’ moment and the limit of our time together.
Buying a larger carrier
We part and I follow up with the links I promised and a willingness to keep in touch. A few days later, I hear the Connecta is on its way to her, just in time for their trip.
Holidaying with slings
Just today, I get these photos in my inbox of this glorious duo. Look at their smiling faces, their glowing skin and hooray for accessing the places untouchable by pushchair!
6 Top reasons to use a sling on holiday;
💜 pack up small
💙 carry tired legs
💚 access remote places
💛 a place to nap
🧡 reconnect whilst moving
❤ a safe space in new surroundings
Meeting our children’s needs beyond babyhood can feel like a struggle sometimes, but with a bit of skilled troubleshooting, there is often a way that can meet most needs and situations.
You are quite unlikely to regret choosing to meet your child’s need for closeness and connection as, lets face it, we all crave it too right?
What has worked for you in the past? I’d love to hear your stories too, please get in touch.
Story shared with permission
Find a sling library near you.
Book with me today and you too will have a smile this big 💚
None of us are perfect, we live busy lives, often juggling many mental processes at once. We try our best to listen to those we are supporting but sometimes we may fall short.
Honing in on listening skills can really help us offer more effective support. The photos bellow are adapted from a list by the Bloemfontein Samaritans. I discovered them as part of my breastfeeding specialist training and adapted them to share with you all 🙂
This series of images is about listening skills and what it looks like when you are listening and when you are not.
I believe they are applicable to all situations, in all interactions with others, what ever your role is within that moment. I find these helpful in all my roles, from health care professional to babywearing consultant.
I hope that with awareness ( and practice) we can strive to be aware of our flaws and do better for those we interact with on a professional and personal level.
You are not listening when…
|You say you understand before you know me well enough.|
You have an answer for my problem before I have finished telling you what it is.
You sense that my problem is embarrassing and you try to avoid it.
You are dying to tell me all your experiences which make mine seem unimportant.
You need to feel successful You come up with all the clever answers which have little to do with me.
You cut me off before I have finished speaking.
You are trying to sort out all the details and are not aware of the feelings behind the words.
You are listening when…
|You come quietly into my world and let me be.|
You try to understand me when I do not make much sense.
You hold back your desire to give me advice.
You don’t take my problem from me but trust me to deal with it my own way.
You give me enough room to discover for myself why I feel upset and enough time to think for myself what is best.
You allow me the dignity of making my own decisions even though you may think I am wrong.
You don’t tell me that funny story you are just burning to tell.
You realise that how I take from you leaves you a bit tired and drained.
You grasp my point of view even when it goes against your sincere convictions.
You spend a short valuable time with me and make me feel it is forever.
|I invite you to have a look through them & reflect upon how they make you feel.|
Do they ring true to you?
Do any remind you of a recent interaction?
Is there anything you will try to apply to your our skill set?
Are there any you would add?
There is no need to share your thoughts, but naturally, I’d love to hear them.
Post activity thoughts..
We are not aiming to be free from our flaws, only aware of them so we can notice them in the moments that matter the most. When will you next give the gift of listening?
|This blog piece forms part of my Slingababy consultancy project, we are tasked with sharing good quality information to benefit the whole baby wearing community. |
|Photo Credit – Alex Cetra Photography |
Woven Wrap – Didymos Arora
What happens when you meet child’s needs with empathy and compassion?
A sling, a cuddle and some nourishing mummy milk, was exactly what this one needed on the way home from a walk today.
I felt the familiar pull to put him off, to wrap him on my back or just plain refuse and make him walk home. Because although my soul filled with the joys of spring, my limbs were weary too.
But I took the path of least restistance, he was sleepy & he rested. Then oxytocin buzz helped me power through to home.
Breastfeeding beyond babyhood has its own unique challengs and often, parents don’t know another family making similar choices. Reach out if you’d like to be connected with other parents like you. ❤️
So you know reasons wear your newborn, but what about after?
|Recently, I sat down with a group of mothers and we got talking about all the|
things we loved about babywearing.
We all had different experiences but something we did all agree upon was that doing it beyond the newborn period was so helpful and we all had different reasons.
It got me wondering bout how many other parents are missing out on this parenting tool? So here are some of the (many) reasons to babywear beyond babyhood.
It’s never to late to choose new ways to connect with your child, message me today for personalized support.
Click on the images to see the full text as some are minimized on screens. If you need an accessible version, please do get in touch or email Hello@beyondbabyhood.com