"For me, being a lactation consultant is like breathing. I can't imagine my life without it. And being present for parents and babies, helping them to know each other and nurse comfortably, feels like exactly where I'm supposed to be."
Ellen Chetwynd - PhD, MPH, BSN, IBCLC
I became a lactation consultant in 2000 when I was coordinating a maternal and child health program at a family medicine center because my co-worker told me to do it. For me, that meant starting the first outpatient lactation support program in the hospital system in which I worked. Not just helping parents to breastfeed, but studying about the biology of breastfeeding, and teaching breastfeeding to residents and physicians.
It became clear to me how little evidence there actually was to support the work we do as lactations consultants, and so I left my job to study for real, getting first a master’s, then a doctorate in public health. All my research focused on studying breastfeeding and contributing what I could to the evidence that would support the profession I had come to love.
While I was at school studying epidemiology and biostatistics, I continued to practice as a lactation consultant, now at an out-of-hospital birth center. This is where my practice really began to evolve. I studied craniosacral therapy to learn about the way infant bodies function and began to expand the way I worked with breastfeeding couplets. I developed very specific techniques that draw on both practices, which brings me to where I am today, working at the intersection of lactation consulting and infant body dynamics.
I have become comfortable working with difficult cases of pain and ineffective nursing. I love the challenge of working through a good lactation puzzle. And I am delighted to have been sought out by women from across the state and as far away as India!
Outside of Teaching Babies to Nurse, I also continue to work in research and public health, including as an Associate Editor at the Journal of Human Lactation. I'm an advocate for breastfeeding on multiple boards, committees, and breastfeeding support organizations across the state, and have even been called to serve as an expert witness in court cases.
I was deeply honored to receive the United States Lactation Consulting Association Award for Excellence in 2019, and I enjoy contributing to the growth of the profession through mentorship, research, and teaching others about unique tools for breastfeeding support nationally and internationally.
Collaborators - Mother's Milk | Baby's Body Clinic
Emily Esmaili - DO (currently on parental leave)
Dr. Emily Esmaili completed her osteopathic medical training at the Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2008, where she met gifted mentors who introduced her to the potency of Osteopathic Manipulative Therapy, especially for treating children and young infants. She then completed her pediatrics residency training at Wake Forest University Hospital in 2011, where she learned to incorporate her osteopathic background into mainstream pediatric medicine. Currently, she works at Lincoln Community Health Center in Durham, where she specializes in the care of refugee and immigrant children, offering osteopathic treatments for newborns from diverse backgrounds, and as an adjunct for treating common childhood illnesses where appropriate. Emily first met Ellen when seeking lactation support for her own child, who now requests osteopathic treatments from her on a regular basis.
Wanda Sundermann - LMBT, ICCE, ICD
Wanda Sundermann is a licensed massage therapist with additional training in Craniosacral therapy, specializing in Craniosacral therapy for infants. Wanda has worked for over thirty years with new mothers and babies as a doula, childbirth educator, and bodyworker. Her goal is to empower families to discover the options they feel most comfortable with, give them the tools they need to follow through, and adjust if things go in a different direction.
Ellen has a deep respect for Wanda’s work. They have been friends for decades and are excited to bring their friendship into this shared clinical space, learning from each other in their shared and complementary areas of expertise.