About Ellen Chetwynd

Ellen Chetwynd

"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."

My Journey

I never thought I was going to be a lactation consultant, but this profession called to me--hard.

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!

Education

  • Post-Doctoral Research, Nutrition
    North Carolina State University, 2017

  • PhD, Maternal and Child Health
    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2016

  • MPH, Maternal and Child Health
    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2011

  • BS, Nursing
    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1991

  • BA, Biology
    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1988