My Journey to Becoming a Lactation Consultant

My Journey to Becoming a Lactation Consultant


By Allyson Murphy, IBCLC

I can pinpoint the exact moment my journey to a career as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (aka an IBCLC) began: 10 PM on February 24, 2011. The second time I tried to latch my newborn son Callum—my first baby—and failed miserably. We both failed. I was clueless, despite prenatal breastfeeding class and reading several books. He angrily refused my breast with ferocious cries and surprisingly strong baby biceps.

Of course I had no idea then that I was beginning a long 180° career change. In fact, I left the hospital a few days later, fighting back terrified tears because this kid just Would. Not. Latch. It took a home visit from an amazingly skilled IBCLC two weeks later (after long days of pumping and bottle feeding) to start to get on track. That little dude and I nursed happily for 2 full years.

I headed into my second birth a little cocky. I mean, I’d breastfed for two years, so clearly I knew everything about nursing, right?! Enter my sweet Sean, on March 29, 2014, who arrived into the waiting arms of Avalon’s own Lisa Millstein and JoAnn Yates. He latched immediately and nursed like a champ for all of his hospital stay. “Success!” I thought.

Allyson with son Sean in 2014

Allyson with son Sean in 2014

Fast forward a week: cracked, bleeding nipples and I was straight up crying each time I had to nurse. So much for my “expertise.” I’ll be forever grateful that my second time was also a mess. Because it meant I was destined to cross paths with Elizabeth Devaney.

She helped me correct latching issues at her weekly support group. I began to attend regularly and religiously. A few months in, I was helping run the group. I saw how incredibly important postpartum support is for those struggling with nursing. Elizabeth’s wisdom, warmth, and knowledge of breastfeeding issues blew me away. We quickly became friends and when I said, “I want to do this too,” she offered to help and mentor me.

It’s been a long, three year journey to get where I am. My background is in graphic design, not nursing, so I had to begin with basics like Biology and Anatomy & Physiology. I helped start the North Jersey Chapter of Breastfeeding USA. I’ve attended many breastfeeding professional conferences. I run our very popular weekly Breastfeeding Support Group at Avalon (my favorite 90 minutes of the week!) And I’ve spent hours upon hours observing lactation consultations at Elizabeth’s elbow, soaking in all of her knowledge.

In December 2017, I found out I passed the IBCLC exam (yep, you bet I cried when I opened the mail that day!) In January, I began seeing clients on my own and I’m incredibly proud of the hard work I put into this journey. I’m also grateful for all the help I received to get here.

So what is an IBCLC? Known as “the gold standard for provision of breastfeeding care in any setting,” International Board Certified Lactation Consultants have extensive training in normal breastfeeding management as well as complex issues that may develop over the course of a nursing relationship. We provide accurate, up-to-date, evidence-based information. We are held to rigorous professional standards, required to continue our education, and re-certify with an exam every decade.

I am so, so honored to get to work side-by-side with Elizabeth every day. At Laid Back Lactation we remember that every experience—like my own two—is unique. We support our clients with humor, warm hugs, and zero judgment. Our client relationships last long beyond the face-to-face consultation with text and phone support. We are grateful for every family we have the honor of working with.

Photo credit: Sophie Kawalek 

My breastfeeding story: Anna L.

My breastfeeding story: Anna L.

When I sat on my living room floor and did the google search that led me to Laid Back Lactation all those months ago, it was because I felt like there was no one in my small world that understood what I was feeling. I can’t express how differently I feel now that I’m on the other side of this experience.

Yes, breastfeeding is 99.9% about two people: you and your baby. But what I have learned these past 5 months is that who makes up your .1% makes all the difference. How thankful I am to have found the very best in all of these amazing mothers who have shared their journeys with me.

My breastfeeding story: Bonnie A.

My breastfeeding story: Bonnie A.

I am beyond thankful for the community that Allyson, Elizabeth, and Jen have created through this group. I am beyond thankful for the knowledge they share, and the space they hold to allow us to share. And most important, I am beyond thankful for the simple emotional support they, and the community at large, supply. There are tears, there are laughs, there are smiles, and there are rants. No topic is off limits, and everyone—no matter their journey—is welcome. 

Press release: Parents in NJ demand action on family separation at the US border

June 22, 2018. Newark---Parents from around New Jersey are gathering in front of the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Headquarters in Newark to protest the Trump Administration’s policy of separating immigrant children from their families at the border. Led by a group of nursing mothers, these parents are urging lawmakers to put a stop to these separations and to reunite families as fast as possible.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, since May 2108 over 2,342 children have been separated from their families. These children, some young enough to still be in diapers, may never be reunited with their parents. Although President Trump just issued an executive order that could potentially bar taking children from their families, the fate of thousands of children already separated remains unknown. “Ripping terrified children from their parents causes unimaginable trauma to both children and adults,” said Allyson Murphy, a board certified lactation consultant with Laid Back Lactation and organizer of the protest. “These parents are coming to the US to take their children out of violent and possibly deadly situations. Rather than being the agents of every parents’ worst nightmare, we should be doing everything we can to help them.

In April 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions introduced the “zero tolerance policy” where any adult crossing the border illegally is referred to prosecution. Because children cannot legally be detained in processing centers for more than three days, they are sent to centers through the Office of Refugee Resettlement. New Jersey has at least one such center that is housing immigrant children, though it is unclear how many undocumented children are currently in its care.

“The executive order signed by President Trump means that children can be held indefinitely in jail-like processing centers”, said Murphy. “We call on our lawmakers from New Jersey to work to end the zero tolerance policy and to ensure that every person who enters the United States—legally or illegally, is treated with human dignity.”

For more information contact:
Allyson Murphy 908-331-0243 allyson@laidbacklactation.com
Jane Cohen 917-353-0793 janeecohen@gmail.com

EVENT DETAILS
Date: Friday, June 22, 2018
Time: 10 am - 11:30 am
Location: Gather at 10 in Newark, NJ, at Lincoln Park. Procession will move to 972 Broad Street, Newark, NJ

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My breastfeeding story: Susan M.

My breastfeeding story: Susan M.

I only pump 4 times a day now that I'm back at work and I feel like a pro. I'm super proud that I've fed my tiny humans with my own body and even more proud of myself for sticking it out. I've done it all at this point-nursed, tandem nursed, pumped, bottle fed, used formula—and I have two chunky happy babies to show for it

My breastfeeding story: Emily A.

My breastfeeding story: Emily A.

"Now my baby is 4 months old and I find myself being the one to reassure new moms that it may really suck right now but it gets better and they don’t have to do it alone."

Why Hire an IBCLC?

Why Hire an IBCLC?

If you’re having trouble breastfeeding, finding yourself in pain, worried about milk supply, baby’s weight gain or other related issues, a lactation consultant can help you and your baby find nursing success. IBCLCs provide the "gold standard" of care for new parents and their babies.

Common Breastfeeding Problems—And When to Get Help

Common Breastfeeding Problems—And When to Get Help

Breastfeeding is the natural way to feed your baby. In addition to providing nutrition, your breast milk gives your baby disease-fighting immunities, bonding time, and the loving touch of skin-on-skin. Nursing often comes with challenges in the early days. Working closely with an experienced and supportive International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) can help you meet your breastfeeding goals. We’re here to help!