StorkNet interview with
Anne Smith, IBCLC
International Board Certified Lactation Consultant

Congratulations to our winner, Michelle "Persephone2!" She will receive a free mini electric breast pump, pictured above. Many thanks to Anne Smith for providing this item! Be sure to visit Anne's website for more breastfeeding information and wonderful products. Also, read her articles on StorkNet.

Q's and A's:

Click here to visit Anne's site!

Hello, StorkNet Members! I am Anne Smith, IBCLC and I'll share a bit about myself here. I became a certified La Leche Leader in 1978, when my first child was a toddler. I guess you could say that Josh started it all. I was 20 years old, and he was a scrawny thirty-five week preemie. He looked a lot like a Shar-pei puppy, but I thought he was beautiful.

I was an “earth mother” back when natural childbirth, Lamaze classes, and fathers in the delivery room were just becoming popular. I was determined to do everything naturally (including breastfeeding, even though no one in my family had ever breastfed successfully). I did manage to breastfeed Josh, but ended up being given lots and lots of drugs after I dilated from 2-10 cm. in less than thirty minutes. Apparently, at that point I loudly told my husband and anyone else who would listen that I had changed my mind about the whole natural childbirth thing – I no longer wanted to be a martyr, and begged for drugs/and/or a c-section.

Josh nursed for less than a year, weaning himself way before I was ready. At thirty-five weeks, he weighed 7 pounds and was 21” long. The doctors said he would be big when he grew up, and they were right. He’s now 6’7”, plays a mean game of volleyball, and is entering graduate school to work on a PhD in BioMedicine.

I was hooked on breastfeeding after my first baby, and knew I would nurse my other babies no matter what obstacles I had to overcome. I actually planned on having a dozen children, but fortunately I came to my senses when I was halfway there.

When Matt was born in 1978, he made his appearance in an elevator on the way up to the maternity floor. Somewhere in Alabama, there is a woman who was a fourteen-year old candy striper twenty-one years ago who was assigned to escort me to the seventh floor where the delivery rooms were. Surprise! I’ve never seen a human being turn that shade of green except in science fiction movies. She’s probably scarred for life.

Matt was a big baby (8 lbs, 12 oz) but didn’t gain weight well after the early weeks. In fact, an evil and sadistic doctor told me that he was going to be brain damaged because my milk wasn’t rich enough, and I was starving him to death. Shows how much she knew – he’s now 22, 6’2”, and weighs about 150 lbs soaking wet. He graduated from art school in Baltimore, and besides making straight A’s, he has a great sense of humor. He went to the Halloween party last year dressed as a matchstick. Perfect costume.

My third child (a girl), now 20 years old, was born at home. Everything went great. She’s now a beautiful girl (has done some modeling), is 6’ tall, and is a junior in college who makes straight A’s, plays varsity volleyball, and wants to become a teacher when she graduates.

The last three (ages 13, 11, and 8) were born either at home, or (in the case of the 13 year old) in the front seat of the car traveling down the highway at 90 mph. I’m the only person I know who had to deliver her own baby because my husband was in serious denial about the whole situation and refused to stop the car and pull over. It all turned out fine, though, and the kids in the back seat watching thought it was all very cool.

I also share my home with a Basset Hound named Maddie (dumb as a box of rocks), an Australian Shepherd named Hayley (a brain surgeon compared to Maddie), two cats named Gracie and Sophie (Hayley thinks they are sheep and keeps trying to herd them), 2 hamsters named Bunny and Chestnut, two newts named Isaac and Fig, and assorted fish who all have names but I can’t remember them. Sometimes I have trouble remembering the children’s names. There is never a dull moment at our house.

So, I have breastfed a total of six children (three boys, three girls). My nursing experiences have been varied – some weaned early, some late. Some gained weight quickly, some were at the 10th percentile. Some slept through the night early, some were still waking during the night when they were three or four. I’ve experienced just about everything first hand at one time or another – cracked nipples, mastitis, engorgement, colic, slow weight gain, jaundice, etc.

I think that my first hand experience plus my more than twenty years experience of counseling nursing mothers are my most important credentials. Nursing my six children has brought more joy into my life than I ever would have thought possible, and I will do everything I can to help you experience a positive breastfeeding relationship with your new little one.

I also have ‘official’ credentials: -BA in education -La Leche Leader since 1978 -IBCLC since 1990 (This one is important. An IBCLC – International Board Certified Lactation Consultant – is a health professional who offers extensive training, experience, and knowledge in the area of breastfeeding, and who has passed vigorous board exams to ensure professional expertise).

As a nursing mother, LLL Leader, and IBCLC, I have worked in many areas over the years. I have led support group meetings, taught breastfeeding classes, trained breastfeeding peer counselors to work with low income mothers, worked one-on-one with mothers to solve breastfeeding problems, helped thousands of mothers with breastfeeding questions over the phone, held workshops for health professionals on various breastfeeding topics, taught OB, Pediatric, and Family Practice Residents breastfeeding at Bowman Gray School of Medicine, and run a breast pump rental station with over 100 pumps, scales, and nursing bras for the past eleven years.

I feel that what I am best at is nurturing and offering support and advice to new mothers during all stages of breastfeeding, but especially the critical early days.

Mothers who are going to give up on nursing will usually quit during the first week. While about 62% of women initiate breastfeeding in the hospital, only about 22% are still nursing six months later. Mothers are in the hospital for only 48-72 hours, so the support they receive during the critical days 3-7 often makes the difference between continuing or giving up. That’s why support during the early stages of breastfeeding is so important. I want to be available to provide that important support for you when you need it most.

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Once you make it through the first couple of weeks, and problems like sore nipples and engorgement are behind you, you face another set of challenges when you’re ready to start pumping and returning to work. Most mothers have lots of questions at this time, ranging from what type of pump to use to how to get their baby to take a bottle.

Over the past twenty years, through my own experience and the experience of helping thousands of mothers, I have learned a lot about how to help women have a successful breastfeeding experience. I have always offered free advice, via e-mail, phone, or one-on-one personal consultations.

About Anne's website: Anne explains, "The idea behind Breastfeeding Basics is to make solid, practical information available; to offer a small variety of good breastfeeding products that I believe are the best on the market at the best possible prices; and to make myself available to provide common sense answers to breastfeeding questions.

Every mother and every baby is different – that’s why no matter how many books you read, or classes you take, you may find yourself with questions. Remember that there is no such thing as an “average” baby, and anyway your baby hasn’t read those books or taken those classes, so your situation is always unique."

Click on the links above to view Anne's replies to StorkNet questions.

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