"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
Ellen became a Lactation Consultant in 2000, during her first career as a nurse. There, her background [work? focus?] ]was broadly based in Maternal and Child Health, providing both hospital and community-based care covering [,?] bedside nursing [teaching residents and physicians?] and program leadership positions [ what does this mean]. She returned to the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health after a full career in nursing [how many years], where she received first a master’s [ when] and then a doctorate [ when] in Maternal and Child Health, minoring in Epidemiology, but always focusing her research on breastfeeding.
Teaching Babies to Nurse is the third lactation practice she has initiated [word choice?]. She loves each of the practices for what they are [hmm]—the other two being in the competent hands of her colleagues—and also feels that TBTN is the one that allows her to bring all of her areas of expertise to the table. Here she can apply and teach the very specific techniques she uses that draw on lactation consulting, nursing, craniosacral therapy, and her research background. The [her] techniques work at the intersection of lactation consulting and infant body dynamics and allow her to comfortably manage difficult cases of pain and ineffective or inefficient nursing, solving the puzzles that each baby’s unique approach to problem-solving presents.
Outside of Teaching Babies to Nurse, she continues to work in research and public health. She holds a position as an Associate Editor at the Journal of Human Lactation, and is an advocate for breastfeeding on multiple boards, committees, and breastfeeding support organizations across the state. She was honored to have been selected by her colleagues to receive the United States Lactation Consulting Association Award for Excellence in 2019, and continues to speak, research, and teach others about her unique tools for breastfeeding support nationally and internationally.
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!
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.