A woman-owned lactation business supports babies and mothers in the western suburbs during Lactation Care Appreciation Week.
There were more than 133,000 new babies born in Illinois in 2020. For most parents, the challenges that come with new babies are daunting. Between sleep deprivation, many online resources (which can be contradictory) and lack of instructions; it can be difficult to find resources that provide the much-needed help and support that most parents need during the first few weeks home with their new baby. Add to that a global pandemic and the need for certified assistance is growing rapidly. That’s why 2 Certified Lactation Consultants, Amber Barnes RN, BSN, RNC-NIC, IBCLC and Anne Albi MS, CCC-SLP, IBCLC, decided to open Lactation Care Connection earlier this year; a lactation consulting company committed to helping new parents with newborn feeding challenges in the Chicago area.
Lactation consultants are professionals who specialize in breastfeeding. The highest credential for lactation consultants is an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant), which requires participation in extensive training, hands-on clinical practice, and acceptance to take and pass the board credentialing exam .
“Amber and I were moms who struggled to feed their babies. Through our struggles, we developed a passion for helping moms in our NICU careers and realized how important it is to have that support and assistance outside the hospital,” says Anne Albi. , co-owner of Lactation Care Connection.
Amber Barnes began her career as a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) nurse in 2006, which inspired her to become an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant in 2015. She practiced as a RN and IBCLC in NICU, Family Care/Postpartum Unit. and outpatient clinics ever since.
Anne Albi graduated from Rush University with a master’s degree in speech therapy in 2008 and has worked in a hospital setting ever since. In 2009, she began her career in the neonatal intensive care unit working with premature and medically fragile infants with dysphagia and feeding difficulties. After 5 years as a Certified Lactation Specialist, Anne became an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.
Navigating breastfeeding during those first few days in the hospital can be confusing while you’re sleep deprived and recovering from labor and delivery. You may only see a lactation consultant in the hospital once or twice, if you’re lucky. By the time you get home with the baby, you realize you have a lot of questions. How do you know if baby is eating enough? Am I producing milk? How many do you need? Without a support system in place, it can be difficult to get those answers.
“A lot of times mums leave the hospital before their milk even comes in and have breastfeeding issues once they get home. The more support a mum can get, whether you’re a new or experienced mum, the better!” says Amber Barnes, co-owner of Lactation Care Connection. “A mother’s biggest struggle in the early days is often how to feed her newborn baby. We are taught to think that breastfeeding is so natural and should just come easy, but IT IS NOT NOT !”
For many people with a newborn, lack of sleep and time can make it difficult to find easily accessible support. Lactation Care Connection understands this and offers flexible options for parents that include all the specialist support they need.
“We offer both in-home and virtual consultations. Our consultations also include extensive follow-up communication to ensure the plan we have developed is working and to make any necessary changes based on family feedback.”
If you are unable to breastfeed, LCC offers support in other ways. “Expression is always breastfeeding and many mothers can use support, education and counseling to establish a plan of expression that works best for them and their babies. NICU, we have extensive experience working with pumping mothers, Anne also pumped exclusively with her first baby to graduate from NICU,” says Amber.
Developing an expression plan can also be helpful when parents return to work, to ensure they can meet the needs of their growing baby.
In support of IBCLC Day on March 2, 2022, Lactation Care Connection is offering 20% off its services for all consultations booked in March. Virtual and in-home consultations are available as well as gift cards.