"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 - Founder/Owner
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.
“Enabling another mother to develop confidence in her breastfeeding journey and achieve her goals is the most empowering thing I have ever been able to do for another woman.”
Jamila Squires - RN, MPH, IBCLC
I started my professional career working with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) supporting global health programs. I stumbled into breastfeeding while pursuing a Master’s of Public Health in Maternal and Child Health at UNC in Chapel Hill and completely redirected my career trajectory. As I learned more about the global benefits of breastfeeding, as well as the many complex barriers to successfully breastfeeding, I developed a passion for empowering women to reach their breastfeeding goals.
In 2010 I completed lactation consultant training through the Mary Rose Tully Training Initiative and joined the UNC Hospital Lactation Department, where I was privileged to learn and collaborate with many experienced lactation consultants and share the knowledge I gained with students, nurses and physicians. I provided clinical lactation management to patients in diverse settings throughout the hospital and in the outpatient clinic for over 10 years.
I completed a BS in Nursing at UNC in 2017 and joined the Women’s Birth and Wellness Center lactation team in 2020, where I continued to learn and collaborate with other lactation consultants and provided optimal, early interventions and follow up to breastfeeding dyads.
Many breastfeeding journeys are interrupted with early interventions or supplementation due to common problems, such as latch difficulty, nipple pain, weight loss, prematurity, hypoglycemia, jaundice tongue ties or concerns about milk supply. I am adept at working with these and other complex breastfeeding difficulties, especially in the early postpartum period and have helped countless patients achieve their breastfeeding goals.
Over the years I’ve learned that there is a lot of science, but also a lot of art to breastfeeding. I am excited for the opportunity to bring what I have learned and learn new things from Ellen in this next chapter.
Lactation Support Apprentice - Jessica Luginbuhl - MPH
I just graduated from UNC Chapel Hill’s Mary Rose Tully Training Intensive in lactation in 2022. I am a mother of two and have been working in maternal and child health my whole career, however, Lactation Consulting specifically is a career change for me.
For the past 15 years, I have worked with women and children worldwide in a variety of public health settings. Most recently, I spent 10 years implementing and managing public health programming focused on the most disinvested communities in Alameda County, CA. There, I frequently observed a complex array of social, economic, political, and cultural factors that influence families and their communities.
My experiences have encouraged me to hold onto the unwavering belief that when children, mothers, and fathers are provided appropriate support, they can and will succeed. This core belief has repeatedly led me to examine the first few months of life, where the interaction between a mother, baby, and extended family begins.
Collaborators - Mother's Milk | Baby's Body Clinic
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.
Emily Esmaili - DO - currently on leave as of July 2022
Annalee Harkins - Operations Manager
Annalee joined Ellen at Teaching Babies to Nurse in October 2020, and handles everything outside of seeing patients. She has a BS in Information Science from UNC Chapel Hill, and a diploma in Art & Design from London College of Fashion at University of the Arts London.
Annalee first met Ellen in the womb, as her mother's fellow classmate and friend in nursing school at UNC. They reconnected when Annalee returned to North Carolina after living many other places. Outside of Teaching Babies to Nurse, Annalee enjoys listening to so many podcasts, adoring her two herding dogs, and sewing quilts by hand.