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August 4, 2016

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You are driving, I have maps: My journey to having a goals based lactation practice


Maybe you've heard that Durham Lactation is a goals based practice, but I wanted to take some time today to talk about how I arrived at that point of view. What does "goal’s based" mean? The broad strokes are that I am not formula shaming, nor do I accept samples or materials for formula marketing. I think breastfeeding is really cool, but I don’t think everyone should do it. I think that of those who do breastfeed we have different reasons for choosing it. 


I started as a postpartum doula, and that has a lot to do with where I ended up. Durham Lactation is housed within a Emerald Doulas because I think that the way that doulas work has a lot to contribute to how we council infant feeding. 


Doulas offer non-judgmental support in birth and postpartum. That non-judgmental piece is arguably the most important part of what we do. We combine experience, training and a firm evidence base with your knowledge of what is right for you. Being in an office of doulas keeps me grounded in what non-judgemental care truly means. 


I’ve had my moments. I had moments deep in my intensive lactation education where I bought into “Breast is Best”. That year I spent hundreds of hours in coursework at UNC’s Global Breastfeeding Institute and hundreds more in hospitals, birth centers and NICUs across the state. There were days where I found myself standing over beds in the NICU feeling outraged by formula companies seemingly unchecked advertising access. Moments when reading statistics of breastfeeding rates that were staggeringly low. I had my moments of feeling like everyone should breastfeed. Period. 


I’ve had my moments on the other side too. Watching parent’s with gender dysphoria. With bleeding nipples. With mood disorders. As the postpartum doula mixing the bottle of formula I thought to myself “woah. that was so easy. Why doesn’t everyone just do this?”.


But the most important moments would be when I came back to myself and realized, it doesn’t actually matter what I think. It isn’t up to me, because it isn’t about me. 


I’m so grateful for those lessons along the way. They build the foundation for all the tools I have to come up with creative solutions that work for families. That’s why I always say “You are driving. Tell me where we are going, I have maps.” Those experiences I had long the way, those families who taught me with their experience became my maps. 

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