Beads of sweat forming on her forehead and tears streaming down her face, a sweet momma looks up at me briefly in between long, loving gazes at her newborn. No words were necessary as her face wore the expression of gratitude and elation. We sit in silence for a moment listening to the rhythmic thup, thup, thup of that sweet baby at the breast. I stroke baby’s soft, little head, careful not to disturb the latch that took so long to achieve. Inside, my heart is floating, and relief floods my soul…
…and in that stillness, I am reminded of the weighty responsibility my work carries with it. Time and time again I am invited into homes, entrusted with the management of one of baby’s most important basic needs.
Who am I?
What makes me so special?
I don’t carry a magic lactation wand or a pouch of latch dust.
I am simply a lactation consultant who
simply loves moms,
simply loves babies,
simply loves breastfeeding,
and has simple goals:
meeting moms where they are,
helping more babies get breastmilk,
helping more moms breastfeed.
Short of my family, nothing gives me more satisfaction than knowing I have helped one more baby get even one more drop of breastmilk, empowered one more mom to push through even one more feeding…
…. respected the mom who decided whole-heartedly to throw in the towel, supported the mom that had no idea what to do when milk came in after the birth of her stillborn.
Where has our reverence gone? Despite recent efforts, our culture continues to struggle with promoting and supporting breastfeeding.
· Pregnancy and birth are perpetually medical-ized, squelching what should be a natural progression.
· Well-meaning but erroneous information is passed along serving to confuse moms rather than encourage them.
· Younger generations have lost their models after decades of the suffocating marketing ploys of formula companies.
The right message has been all but extinguished: Breastfeeding is not the best way to feed your baby…it is the way to feed your baby. The tasks ahead are not for the faint of heart:
· Normalize pregnancy and birth.
· Standardize evidence-based breastfeeding education for health care providers.
· Nurse in public to model breastfeeding.
What can you do today to promote and support breastfeeding? Happy World Breastfeeding Week!
Eyes close, tiny fists open as baby falls off the breast, signaling a full tummy. Momma wipes away a dribble of milk from the corner of the baby’s mouth. “Thank you,” she says quietly, “I was going to quit.” I think out loud, “It’s not me, it’s all you, momma.”
For baby, every drop counts…For momma, every minute is worth it.
Misti Ryan, BSN, RN, CCE, IBCLC, RLC
Co-Owner, Bay Area Breastfeeding & Education, LLC
International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (2011)
Labor and Delivery Nurse (1998)
Certified Childbirth Educator (1999)
Accredited La Leche League Leader (2004)
RTS Pregnancy Loss Bereavement Counselor (2004)
Certified Early Pregnancy Ultrasound Tech (2010)