Lactation education

Introducing… Lactation Consultants – Hamilton Health Sciences

Renee Hildahl, Camilla Aviss and Ruby Guevara are International Board Certified Lactation Consultants at McMaster University Medical Centre.

One of the most important skills a new parent needs to learn is how to feed their baby. Our lactation consultants are here to do just that – they help families feed their newborn babies through breastfeeding or other appropriate methods when needed.

Early intervention with lactation consultants can greatly improve breastfeeding success and help parents understand normal infant feeding signals.

Lactation consultant Camilla Aviss explains why having this role available after birth is so crucial in supporting new parents.

What is a lactation consultant?

Here at Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) McMaster University Medical Center (MUMC), International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC) are all registered nurses (RNs) who have a background in maternal and child health with a additional education and training over several years in complex breastfeeding management. IBCLCs must pass an intensive international exam and recertify every five years with ongoing training to maintain competency in breastfeeding management.

IBCLCs meet all infant feeding needs, not just breastfeeding. These include breast milk feeding using assistive devices such as tubes, cups, spoons and bottles if necessary, how to use a breast pump and how to use breast milk substitutes such as formula milk if necessary. IBCLCs also work in a variety of other fields, such as public health, private practice, and community clinics.

About 3,000 babies are born each year at HHS sites. We are happy to help parents achieve their nutrition goals. Getting support early on can help ensure parents achieve their goals and know where they can go for ongoing support in the community.

What does your role consist of?

Our role at the hospital is to support new parents in establishing breastfeeding after delivery and up to and including the first week of life. IBCLCs also share their knowledge with other members of the healthcare team and help create policy that supports breastfeeding as the biological norm.

Currently, MUMC has IBCLCs that support the Women’s and Newborn Program (including the Postpartum Unit and Intensive Care Unit), as well as Pediatric Units and the Emergency Department at McMaster Children’s Hospital , which is part of the same building.

Some of the most common reasons an IBCLC may be included on a care team to support feeding are painful feedings (breastfeeding should not be painful), infant weight gain issues, oral tissue tethered (commonly known as tongue ties), a relative with prior breast/thoracic surgery, endocrine disorders, or milk supply issues.

How is food approached at MUMC?

Our approach is one of family centered care. This means that you, your baby and your family are at the center of our care. We care for you together, so you and your family can bond with your baby.

We support the World Health Organization’s recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life with continued breastfeeding up to two years of age and beyond, as mutually desired by parents and the baby.

What are the challenges of breastfeeding?

One of the biggest challenges for parents is getting correct factual information about infant feeding and having a circle of support once home to help them reach their feeding goals. Community feeding supports such as Hamilton Public Health, private practice IBCLCs and community breastfeeding clinics are key in this regard.

Many breastfeeding parents benefit from joining peer support groups such as La Leche League Canada to connect with other parents and talk about breastfeeding and adjusting to life as a new parent.

It is everyone’s responsibility to help support a parent’s feeding goals, beginning before birth with breastfeeding education and continuing after birth. Patients are referred to IBCLCs by nursing and medical staff when complex feeding issues arise.

Meet some of the IBCLCs

Camille Aviss

Camille Aviss

Camille Aviss

26 years as RN, 12 yearsears like IBCLC

“I became an IBCLC after having a high risk pregnancy with my own twins who I delivered at 33 weeks. I went to several IBCLCs for help and found it very difficult to achieve my goals I decided that I wanted to support other parents during this critical time in a family’s life, so I began my four-year journey by taking the required lactation training courses and completing my internship, over 3000 hours at that time!

I have always enjoyed the preventative aspect of nursing and health education in various other nursing specialties in which I have practiced. Breastfeeding affects a child’s lifelong health trajectory as well as that of the breastfeeding parent. For this reason, it is very gratifying to know that I have an impact on a child’s future health outcomes.

Ruby Guevara

Ruby Guevara

Ruby Guevara

11 years as RN, 3 years as IBCLC

“I originally worked in a neonatal intensive care unit in Toronto as a staff registered nurse and often worked closely with the IBCLCs. Thanks to their advice and mentorship, I was able to accumulate my hours of clinical experience, my studies and pass my exam. I have since transitioned into working in the mother-child unit at MUMC as an IBCLC.

I have always had a passion for working with women, children and their families. A big part of the job is educating patients, but it’s also about providing emotional support to families through their breastfeeding journey. Celebrating the smallest of milestones with families is amazing. Becoming an IBCLC felt natural to me.

Renee Hildahl

Renee Hildahl

Renee Hildahl

12 years as RN, 1.5 years as IBCLC

“I have always worked in the field of maternal and child health and in my various roles as a nurse, I quickly recognized the importance of breastfeeding and constant support for families in achieving their health goals. I wanted to be equipped with the skills and knowledge base to address the many food-related issues that can arise in families – becoming an IBCLC was the next right thing for me!

I was drawn to the lactation consultant role because it encompasses a great combination of teaching, assessment and therapeutic skills. I enjoy empowering parents to achieve their nutrition goals, overcome nutrition challenges, and foster meaningful attachment within families. As a lactation consultant, I am able to provide parents with important education and practical strategies to help overcome potential challenges and inspire confidence in the vulnerable transition into parenthood or adding a new baby to the family. family.


Ontario Breastfeeds website
Hamilton Public Health Resources

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