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A little more about me and why I chose a career as a lactation consultant

Updated: 2 days ago

Hey there! Thanks for finding me here. My name is Julie. I have been married to my husband of 16 years. Together we have three amazing children, ages 13, 11 and 9. We have a fur baby that we all adore, a vizsla who is truly our velcro girl. In my free time I love to spectate at my kids’ sports games, run (I have run 9 marathons including the Boston marathon. I'm also a sub 3 hour marathoner!), hike, bike, read, explore the outdoors, spend time at the beach, and spend time with my family and beloved dog.









I have been a registered nurse for seventeen years. During the summer months and winter breaks of my four years of nursing school, I worked as a nurse's aid in a long-term skilled nursing facility with the Alzheimer-Dementia patient population. My first year out of nursing school I worked on a very busy adult medical surgical unit. The high turnover rate of nurses on our unit in addition to being constantly short-staffed and high patient case loads led to early burnout and quickly drove me to want to work with a patient population that was easier to "manage" compared to the bed-ridden, medically complex and overweight adults I was caring for. Don't get me wrong, I loved being a nurse and working with adults, but those of us who have worked on adult med-surg units have an understanding of how challenging that work can truly be as a nurse!


The following ten years I worked at a children's hospital on a busy pediatric medical surgical unit. It was during those years that I gave birth to my three beautiful children and experienced breastfeeding challenges with all three of them (pain with breastfeeding, nipple damage, tongue ties, lip ties, low milk supply, oversupply, clogged ducts, galactocele, and managing pumping while working). This motivated me to pursue learning more about lactation and oral issues related to feeding. Even though I was a nurse, I had NO idea how to navigate breastfeeding and the difficulties that I faced related to it. Nursing school does not cover any lactation education, infant anatomy or issues related to breastfeeding challenges (neither does medical school by the way, nor medical residency, dental school, etc. If you want to learn about lactation and breastfeeding, you need to pursue further education!) This led me to eventually obtain my certification as an IBCLC. It took me 2.5 years to become certified as I was a mom to three littles at the time, also working part-time and volunteering at 2 different hospitals to accrue my 500 supervised clinical hours with the lactation teams.


My experience in lactation includes 4.5 years of NICU, Labor & Delivery, Postpartum, out-patient support groups, telehealth lactation and now owning and operating my private practice for 2 years. Rewind back to 2019-2020 when COVID was rampant, I worked as a home health care nurse. It was during this time that I was also thinking about starting my private practice in lactation as I truly loved meeting with my patients in the comfort of their own home and building relationships with them and their families/loved ones. I thought, if I could do that and work with babies and mothers (my favorite patient population), I would never have to “work” again! In November of 2021 I launched my business website and established my private practice.

I have been a board certified lactation consultant, IBCLC for 7 years. I also maintain my nursing license yearly through the state of Connecticut. I absolutely love continued education and discovered very quickly after obtaining certification that there is never ending opportunities to learn and enhance my clinical skills as a lactation consultant. In addition to maintaining my IBCLC credential (IBCLC's have to re-certify every 5 years by completing 75 continued educational hours in specific areas related to lactation and infant anatomy.) I have trained and received continued education in the following courses:

  • Masterclass for IBCLC’s “Oral Habilitation of the Breastfeeding Dyad.”

  • Pumping & Feeding Gear for IBCLC’s (this course focuses on all things breast pumps, flange sizing, and everything in between with feeding gear!)

  • several Bottle Refusal courses

  • The Older Baby: Resolving Unresolved Breastfeeding Challenges

  • Reflex Assessment for Infant Feeding

  • Tongue Tie Symposium through Gold Learning, various tongue tie webinars and trainings

  • Much More!

I also have extensive experience first-hand in the area of oral ties. After dealing with life-long health issues stemming from my tongue tie, I had my own oral ties released in April of 2023 (7 total!). Chronic migraines and headaches, chronic neck and shoulder tension, extensive orthodontic work including a palate expander and 5 years of braces during grade school, chronic anxiety, gum recession, bloating and gas as a result of thrusting swallow pattern..... all these issues and more led me to have my ties released as an adult (and do I wish I had been aware and educated on oral ties and the negative effects of them when I was younger. It would have saved me years and years of suffering!). This topic and my experience should have its own blog post! Stay tuned....

After I got married and learned from my mother-in law that my husband was borderline failure to thrive as a baby (he could not latch to the breast and also had bottle feeding issues due to his restricted tongue tie, and guess what? The pediatrician told my mother-in-law that her baby's tongue was not the reason for the feeding issues they were experiencing!), it came as no surprise to me that all three of my children had obvious tongue ties at birth which were released via scalpel before discharge. At the time I was uneducated on oral ties and best practice for release and aftercare. Their ties were snipped on day 2 of life and we were sent on our way with each baby and no aftercare instructions or what to be looking for in terms of what is "normal with breastfeeding." With my firstborn, I had extreme pain with her latch for the first 2 weeks, damaged nipples, and I thought this was normal. We struggled through and eventually got into a rhythm with breastfeeding. Looking back on our feeding journey and knowing what I know now, I realize that her symptoms and her feeding behavior were not normal.

Another one of my children had a lip tie that was not diagnosed in addition to a posterior tongue tie that was not released when she had her anterior tongue tie clipped at birth. She had poor weight gain despite exclusively breastfeeding around the clock. My milk supply suffered as a result of her inability to remove milk effectively. After seeking out support from an IBCLC, we had her ties laser released when she was 6 months of age. It was difficult navigating this journey as I had no support from her pediatrician, who actually told me that “tongue ties are voodoo," and handed me a case of formula as I walked out of the office in tears, wondering why she wasn't gaining weight despite my milk supply being so abundant in those early weeks of breastfeeding her. I had to advocate for myself and my daughter while working hard to build my low milk supply back up and figure out why her growth was faltering. The emotional turmoil and guilt I experienced lit a fire within me as I thought about how many other mothers and babies were probably struggling just like me with little or no support from their healthcare providers. This is what led me to pursue a career as an IBCLC!

In addition to my husband, one of my children is also experiencing symptoms stemming from a posterior tongue tie (despite having her tongue tie released at birth) that have caused health issues and challenges- she has a lisp, chronic headaches and body tension, and frequently coughs when drinking (improper swallow pattern). A tongue tie release is in the near future for her with a skilled release provider. My husband has a restricted tongue tie (remember the feeding issues I mentioned he had as baby?) which has resulted in a high, vaulted palate, sinus issues, sleep issues and airway issues, among other symptoms. After getting evaluated by an airway dentist recently who also is an expert in oral ties, he was told that he is a great candidate for palate expansion and extensive oral procedures that would need addressing before even considering a tongue tie release. Would it surprise you to hear that his general dentist has told him since he was a child that his tongue tie wouldn't impact anything and was told repeatedly through the years from his doctor and dentist that his tongue didn't need to be released? Yet again another example of a healthcare provider and dental provider who are not trained in oral ties and the cascade of negative impacts that are caused by them. Sigh......


I have joked with a fellow IBCLC and friend that I should write a book and call it "Family Ties!" I have seen and experienced how a small, tight restrictive band of connective tissue can cause a lifetime of health challenges, that when you really consider it, are big issues. Because of this, I have eagerly consumed as much training and education in the area of tongue ties, oral ties and the impacts on overall health, tension, and airway. It really is fascinating how much information you can find on this on this topic (books, articles, published journal articles, published research, case studies upon case studies), yet THE MAJORITY of healthcare providers are not educated at all on this topic. When parents ask me why their child's tongue tie/lip tie was missed in the hospital or missed by the pediatrician, nurses, etc in the months following, I simply respond with "you don't know what you don't know." If one doesn't invest their time to educate themselves further on this topic, then how do we expect them to have the knowledge and skills to give guidance and support in this topic? The answer is we can't. We can't expect them to know and we especially can't trust their guidance or "opinions" in this matter. Most healthcare providers do not understand that a tongue tie is not just how the tongue appears. The tongue is "tied" as we call it, or "restricted" when the movement and function of the tongue is limited. To determine if a tongue is truly "tied," a functional oral exam must be done by a skilled provider, meaning they have specialized training in oral assessments and functional exam. This involves so much more than just having a baby suck on your finger and assess baby's ability to stick out/extend their tongue!


If you are reading this, and have not pursued any additional training or education in this area, and you are a healthcare provider, I urge you to please educate yourself. You are doing a disservice to the families you care for if you are not educated in this topic. The negative consequences of untreated ties can be many and can vary from person to person. A book I highly recommend that is a quick, easy read but packed full of evidenced based information and research is Tongue Tied, by Richard Baxter. Start here, but don't end there. There is much much more available to you if you just take the time to research. I have attached links below to some of the many articles, case studies, and research articles on the topic of tongue ties and oral ties.

I remain humble and will always refer my clients to other providers who specialize in areas that I lack in knowledge or expertise. I believe strongly in collaborating with other members of the healthcare team, no matter what role. The families we support deserve the best care. It is essential in order to provide the best care, to refer families to those providers who can best support and serve them. I do my best to help and support families who seek me out for lactation care, but I also don't hesitate to refer my clients to other providers when needed, and seek collaboration with those providers, if they are willing. We should have a team-based approach and acknowledge that we all bring different skillsets, knowledge, experiences and specific areas of expertise to the table. Unfortunately, this isn't the always the viewpoint of a provider.


My hope is that in time we will see every healthcare provider making efforts to refer their families to other members of the healthcare team and be willing and even eager to collaborate ...


Until then, hang in there! Most importantly, trust your instinct and find support. Reach out, I'm here.


Warmly,

Julie





If interested in further reading on tongue tie/oral ties:






https://www.kiddsteeth.com/assets/uploads/pdfs/DrKotlow MCR 2018.pdf


https://www.kiddsteeth.com/assets/uploads/pdfs/AAOMS-2-1.pdf









Some research on tongue ties:




Kotlow L. Oral diagnosis of abnormal frenum attachments in Neonates and infants. Journal of Pediatric Dental Care. 2004;10(3):26-28.


Kotlow L. Infant Reflux and Aerophagia Associated with the Maxillary Lip tie And Ankyloglossia. Clinical Lactation. 2011;(2-4):25-29.


Research articles/case studies on benefits of bodywork in infants:





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