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Ellen Changed My Practice

"Just wanted to share:

Thank goodness we got her nursing! We were up in a very remote part of Canada this weekend at our family cabin. We lost power Saturday afternoon and still hadn’t come on this morning.

I don’t know what we would have done if we were still relying on pumping.

She nursed all weekend and I hand expressed when I got engorged.

I guess I’m just sharing to say, yet again, how life changing what you do is….”

As a private practice IBCLC, receiving messages like this are everything to me.

In the first 2 months with this client, we had already worked through a lot—TOTs, extensive bodywork, supply issues, food sensitivities, growth and bottle-feeding challenges, and more. Every weighted feed was hopeful—close to half a feed or more, but that progress did not always continue at home. It was a struggle, and I was running out of ideas to help them achieve the goal of nursing for a full year.

I have always been the kind of IBCLC that wanted to be able to solve all the feeding issues that I see. I often tell my clients that I’m like a detective solving a mystery, and I don't like not having the answers. So, when I can't figure something out after researching, experimenting, and applying my varied skill set, I get even more determined to find a solution. In the past decade I have completed extensive continuing education and learned so much from my peers in the field—and yet, there were still babies I could not help to finish a full feed while nursing.

My drive to help my clients continually inspires me to seek out new approaches. When I heard about the results Ellen’s clients were getting, I was intrigued. Through observing her work and then taking her workshop, I was excited to implement the new techniques with my clients. We made progress, yet there were still some babies I could not help to sustain full milk transfer. I knew I was missing something so I asked to shadow Ellen over telehealth while we collaborated together to work with some of my clients.

That first mentoring session was incredible for me. I ended the consult knowing my practice had completely changed. I was able to build on the concepts I learned in the workshop and see in person things Ellen addressed that I had missed.

Through our shared work, I learned to focus on creating an environment that allowed us to discover how each baby applies themselves to sucking in their own creative way. Sometimes that environment is distinctly different from my typical techniques, which focus on the baby’s head tilted back with an asymmetrical latch and lots of breast tissue in the mouth. It was initially a difficult ideological shift for me, and I'm not sure I would have believed the new techniques could work without having seen the results with my own clients.

After learning the concepts in Ellen's workshop and watching her implement the techniques in real time, it gave me a much deeper understanding of what babies are doing while they nurse and why. This is the most important thing that changed for me— deeply understanding the “why” is the key to knowing what to adjust. Seeing the changes happen in front of me was the final piece that helped me to understand how to better help my clients reach their feeding goals—even in a remote cabin without electricity.

“I’ve grown to love nursing her so much.”

When my clients share these powerful statements with me, I know my efforts to further my knowledge about suck and transfer are so worth it. Ellen’s skills as a teacher and mentor helped me elevate my practice. There are many clients who are highly motivated to nurse and need these kinds of skills, and I am so grateful I was able to learn from Ellen with her workshop and mentoring. It has truly changed my practice.

Respectfully submitted by:

Jen Deshaies, IBCLC

Syracuse Lactation

with thanks to her clients Alex & Violet for sharing their story

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