He asks me what kind of work I do. We meet over a glass of wine at a party. He is in his late sixties, h
as no children and never been involved in any, so my answer ‘lactation consultant’ doesn’t mean anything to him. ‘Whát do you do’?
And when I explain I assist mothers and babies with breastfeedingissues his next question is ‘What do you actually dó then’?
I tell him how mother co
ntact me for example with painfull nipples. And he wants to know more: what do I do then? So I show him on my fingertip what a difference it makes if pressure is applied to the top (uncomfortable and flow is blocked) or beyond (increased flow and comfort). And how a fingertip is actually similar in size, flow and sensitivity. And that increasing flow and comfort can make breastfeeding a more rewarding experience for mother and child.
“I see’, he says, ‘yo
u are some kind of plumber then. Milk needs to flow freely without any leaks’. Well… yeah, in that sense I am some kind of plumber.
But there is more, I explain. It’s not just technical. As a minimum I have 2 clients, mother and child. And if breastfeeding is not working well an important part of my job is to help them find the cooperation to form a team (again). And then there’s the network around mom and baby
: partners, family, healthcare professionals who need to be involved. Moreover there are also issues that deal with the autonomy of the baby more than with technique, such as bottlerefusal. Then it is my job to help the parents work with the baby to find a good solution that suits the whole family-team.
‘I see’, he says. ‘So you are also a mediator. You’re a plumber/mediator’.
He is happy he understands what I do for a living, and we contently enjoy our wine. Shall I put this title on my businesscard?