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  • Writer's pictureChardá Bell, IBCLC, CBE, CD

Lactation Challenges - Round 1 : Mama Said Knock You Out!

Updated: Mar 22



I just finished watching Creed III. First of all I'm amped because it was amazing! But also it made me realize something because I can create a breastfeeding or birthing analogy or metaphor out of anything lol. 🤪


So, I'm an avid UFC/MMA fan and after watching this and 100's of fights and just watched UFC 285 tonight, I realize that having a good corner is everything to your success! While the fighter is doing the work, the people there to support you in that fight are critical to how you do. They can see things you can't and they can coach you on how to win leading to victory!



Here's how that is related to breastfeeding and birthing:


Breastfeeding is natural, but it doesn't come easy to everyone. In fact, even for the most experienced breast feeder, there is always something to learn and a learning curve with each baby/experience.


Like a good coach or trainer, a lactation consultant or doula, is someone who will be there in your "corner" to coach, guide and empower you to do your best to meet your goals.


Me in your corner sounds a little like this:

"Let's break the latch, re-position, re-latch deeper and see how that goes." Next round "Didn't empty well, baby didn't transfer, still having pain. Let's lube up flanges with oil and pump. Feed it to the baby." Next round "let's figure out a plan to feed the baby, protect your supply and breast, then set some goals for the week."


As Rocky Balboa would say "one step, one punch, one round at a time." That's how I treat a lactation challenge. Let's knock this challenge out!



We check in as frequently as needed, usually once a week until the issue is resolved.


On average, I work with a family for about 6 visits.

1hr - 1.5hrs sometimes up to 2.


As a lactation consultant who is also a doula, I like to work with families as early as prenatally and even preconception. Many people don't realize you can get a lactation consult during pregnancy or even before becoming pregnant to address any concerns, challenges or barriers you might think you have to chest/breastfeeding success.


Just as a fighter prepares with months of training before a fight--working on both defensive and offensive strategies--a person who plans to breastfeed and is currently pregnant can prepare in the 40-42 weeks of pregnancy to plan for just about anything that comes their way with the hurdles of breastfeeding.


I enjoy supporting families during this preparation stage because I love finding fun ways to educate them and give them knowledge. One tip I like to provide is:


With no risk for preterm birth, after 38 weeks, it is safe to harvest colostrum while pregnant and practice hand expression.

Once we've gotten past the pregnancy stage (training) and are in the birth stage (prelims). As a doula who is also a lactation consultant, I like to coach parents on how to optimize their breastfeeding goals via breastfeeding friendly birth planning. I do this by giving them both tangible and mental tools to get them off to a good start.


Topics like:


  • How to navigate interventions

  • How to regroup and recover after interventions

  • What to do if you become separated from your baby

  • What to do & expect after a c-section

  • Benefits of skin to skin

  • Golden hour (uninterrupted bonding time)

  • Production expectations vs. reality

  • Hand expression

  • How soon to breastfeed after birth

  • Baby led latching

  • How to feed your baby other than breast

  • Navigating Supplementation when medically necessary


A few tangible tools:


  • A hand pump

  • Nipple shield with care plan instructions to wean from it

  • Coconut oil

  • At breast supplementer

  • Baby cups instead of bottles

  • Colostrum kit


Now we've gotten home and are in postpartum land. Guess what? I'm still in your corner more now than ever because this is no longer practice or prelims, this is the real challenge!


I have the advantage of seeing what's happening "outside of the ring" so with that perspective of looking in, I see things that you may not. This helps me to help you and I can guide you to the path of victory if you allow me this honor to support you.


I'm right there by your side when things get rough. If you need a corner break after you become challenged with breastfeeding problem, I'm there with a few soltions, tips and tricks to get you through until the next round (our next check in).


I remind you to stay hydrated, nourished and come up with a care plan, a set of strategies to help you meet your goals.


Our plan always consist of these three things:


  • Feed the baby

  • Protect the supply

  • Protect the breast/chest


We work from there and see how we do with a few changes at a time as necessary. If things are going well, we don't change it and then I'm in your corner hyping you up and telling you you're doing great! If things become challenging again, or never let up, we improvise and come up with some new strategies to overcome whatever struggle we are facing. Sometimes that looks like tools:


  • At breast supplementer, cup, syringe, bottle, and other alternative feeding methods

  • Expressed milk or formula when medically necessary

  • A scale to check how much milk is transferring to ease your concerns over supply and baby's growth

  • A hospital grade breast pump with the right size flanges

  • Coconut oil, medi-honey and organic nipple cream

  • Silverettes, nipple shield with plan of care, breast shells

  • Anything else that might help, I get creative!


Once we have that plan, sometimes it takes a few rounds to find your rhythm and get your footing right. After you feel good and are coasting through this thing, we just continue to shout your amazing feats from the mountain tops and watch as you beautifully develop your skills to be the best "fighter" and parent you can be! You meet your goals and end your "fight" or journey with a knock out, a choke or a submission, it doesn't matter how you get there or how many rounds you went, what matters is that you feel victorious like the champ you are!

You're the real MVP - most valuable parent


If you ever hire me as your lactation consultant, just know I'm always gonna be in your corner until the end. Just like the coaches don't leave the corner when things get tough, I don't either. We know that we are most critical to your success when things get hard.


I'm here for you, I hear you and I feel you!



Book a consult with me here:

https://melaninmilksd.intakeq.com/booking


I offer virtual visits anywhere in the world.

I offer in person visits in my clinic on Tuesdays

I offer home visits for 6 weeks and under or multiples of any age.


Black families are currently FREE! (Use the BIPOC option on booking)


All others can pay cash or use insurance

I accept Anthem PPO, Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO, Cigna PPO. Aetna coming soon.


Types of visits:

  • Prenatal

  • Inducing lactation

  • Relactation

  • Postpartum

  • Weaning

  • Solids

  • Bottle feeding

  • Pumping

  • Back to work

  • Anything you need!

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