Tell us a little bit about you.
I'm Sian. I run No Milk Like Mama’s offering Breastfeeding and Holistic Sleep Support. I am a mum of 3 children aged 10, 7 and 1 and we live in Norwich.
I am also a farmer's wife and I married my childhood sweetheart (we met when I was 16!). I'm an international Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), a Holistic Sleep Coach and also a Mindful Breastfeeding Practitioner, which means that I am trained to offer mindfulness techniques within my practice as well.
So tell me a little bit more about being an IBCLC and Mindful Breastfeeding Practitioner.
So IBCLC certification is the current highest recognized qualification in breastfeeding support. I actually started my breastfeeding support career as a volunteer. In order to become an IBCLC I completed training in 13 health related subjects. I had to complete 1,000 clinical hours of practice and 90 hours of lactation specific training in order to be recognized as an IBCLC. I also sat a 4 hour exam.
Juggling breastfeeding, sleep and being a mum or a parent at the same time can be emotional. So as a Mindful Breastfeeding Practitioner we do a lot of journaling and affirmations. New evidence shows us that guided relaxations and the mindfulness techniques we use help mums to produce more breast milk, so that's really helpful. And when it comes to sleep, if mums and dads learn these relaxation techniques, it helps the child as well because it’s emotionally contagious. If we're able to control our emotions in a better way, it is beneficial for both the parents and the child.
“Juggling breastfeeding, sleep and being a mum or a parent at the same time can be emotional. So as a Mindful Breastfeeding Practitioner we do a lot of journaling and affirmations.”
What made you become an IBCLC and a Mindful Breastfeeding Practitioner?
So my own difficulty in breastfeeding my first child led me to what I do today. He was born over 10 years ago and he was premature. It was a really long journey for us to get our breastfeeding off to a really good start. And that made me realise how this type of support is necessary for families, making it possible and accessible to families.
As a mum of a premature baby, I wanted to be able to provide the level of support that I had experienced and to be able to provide that to other families so they can meet their breastfeeding and parenting goals. Whatever it might mean for them. For some parents, that might mean exclusive breastfeeding, for other parents that might mean combination feeding, or exclusive pumping. It means all manners of breastfeeding.
Tell me about how you became a Mindful Breastfeeding Practitioner.
I trained with Anna Le Grange to become a Mindful Breastfeeding Practitioner and it’s something I feel very passionate about. I love to see how well it works in practice and I feel its a really lovely way to finish off the consultation with a family, and to see everybody in the room just relaxed and see how that helps mum, dads, and the baby as well.
What does an average day look like for you?
Day to day, I do home visits, clinic consultations and I also carry out online breastfeeding support and sleep coaching consultations worldwide. I also try to provide as much free online support as I can. We've got an online community on my Facebook page called No Milk Like Mamas online breastfeeding support café.
We've got over 500 lovely members and myself, as well as breastfeeding peer supporters. We try to offer as much information as we can. However, that ‘mother to mother’ community support is also so important, and our evidence shows us that's the most useful type of breastfeeding support available.
Between my Instagram and Facebook groups, I also have live sessions every month. There's lots of lots of things happening online that you can come and enjoy and try!
What’s the most common myth you hear about breastfeeding?
A lot of parents believe that breastfeeding is painful. In fact, I met a mum today who thought that was the case and was getting upset. But actually breastfeeding shouldn't be painful. Some mums describe some mild discomfort when they first breastfeed, but that's very different from severe pain.
So people believing that breastfeeding is painful can actually damage the breastfeeding relationship because they then don’t seek support as they think they should just ride it out but they're not coping and that's really sad to see. That's why I think a lot of people stop much sooner than they otherwise would.
Breastfeeding shouldn't be horribly painful. We encourage people to access support as most breastfeeding issues can be fixed quite easily. A good practitioner for breastfeeding support can get you in a position where you can have a comfortable feed. Only this morning, at the breastfeeding café, I had a mother arrive with an eight day old baby, who told me that breastfeeding was horribly painful for her and by the time she left she had two comfortable feeds. The first comfortable feeds that she'd had with her baby. And that's always really lovely to see. I think that the myth about breastfeeding being painful just needs to be squashed because if that mum had carried on with really painful feeds and had not sought support she potentially would have ended up in a position where she felt she had no choice to give up, or possibly other complications may have occurred.
I also often hear that breastfeeding mums get less sleep than formula feeding parents but research shows it's the opposite. Breastfeeding mums on average get about 40 minutes a night more sleep than formula feeding mums, which is perhaps something that most people don't think would occur. But there's been some really good research into that. So when you're having sleep difficulties, I think it's always worth knowing that, so you don't automatically think, well if I stop breastfeeding things are going to get easier because actually that is very rarely, if at all, the case.
What do you love most about your job?
I genuinely believe I have got the best job in the world. I absolutely adore my work! I just love seeing parents enjoying their parenting journey and be able to support them to reach their own personal goals.
Where can we find more information about you?
So you can find me on Instagram and Facebook. On my website you can subscribe to my mailing list and I can send you a free breastfeeding guide. If you sign up to the mailing list I can then give you reminders when I'll be online live so you can ask questions (these will always be really fun and interactive sessions).
Through my website, you can also book a free 15-minute Sleep Consultation with me too!