I feel lucky to have learned about lactation from multiple perspectives. I first got interested by writing my senior thesis about it in college! I then served in AmeriCorps as a doula, childbirth educator, and lactation support person for a community health center. I attended over 30 births that year and witnessed the critical role birth plays in how feeding goes later. And I got to shadow a lactation consultant and fell in love with the job!
Later I worked in a boutique in Manhattan that offered nursing bras/clothing and pump rentals. (I can still identify a pump’s years of manufacture on sight and troubleshoot both pump flange fit AND bra fit.) I got to shadow another lactation consultant and felt even more sure that this was the career for me – I just had to figure out how to make it happen.
I felt torn, though, between helping people one-on-one as a doula or lactation consultant, vs. addressing the “bigger-picture” issues I kept encountering in my work with new families. I decided on graduate school at the University of North Carolina, receiving my master’s in public health in their renowned Maternal and Child Health program. While I was there, I was incredibly lucky that they started a training program for IBCLCs. I graduated from the first class, after which I was hired to work nights at the hospital where I had trained. UNC Hospital is a Baby-Friendly hospital with a Level IV NICU, delivering thousands of babies a year. I learned an incredible amount from my time there, both from my colleagues and from the families I served.
After three years there, I was hired as Director of Lactation Services at the local freestanding birth center. There, I was able to bring both my public health side and my clinical side to the role: teaching classes, building the program, and seeing hundreds of patients a year in the outpatient clinic. At the hospital I saw babies mostly from 0-4 days old, and premature infants; at the birth center, I saw my patients into toddlerhood!
Between my experiences at the hospital working with an immense array of medical conditions and complications (both parents and babies), and the birth center working with a wide range of ages and situations, I was able to accumulate a wealth of experience. I even collaborated with one of our family physicians to start a “complex clinic” for those situations where we needed a medical team to collaborate on a difficult case. I sometimes feel like I’ve seen just about everything there is to see, but I also know that there are always new cases and new challenges – I never stop learning.
Through all of my experiences, I walked beside families through difficulties and triumphs. I developed a philosophy of birth and of feeding that revolves around a few basics: (a) surround yourself with the best support possible, and (b) be flexible – the ultimate goal is for everyone to be happy and healthy, however that looks. That means that as a client, your goals are my goals, AND I step back and see them in the big picture: your mental and physical health, your sleep, your family. Together we come up with what works best in the big picture, and we change it whenever we need to.
After over five years at the birth center in North Carolina, my wife and I made the move back to Ithaca, NY, where I grew up. We are lucky to be in this beautiful area, close to family. And I seized the opportunity to pursue the dream I’d been brewing for a while: offering a blend of online and in-person support for chest/breastfeeding and pumping. I’m glad you’ve landed here, and I’m excited to help you with whatever your needs are!