After Imalac Co-Founder Rachael Sablotsky Kish brought her first baby home from the hospital, she experienced no production issues but still found that pumping took awhile during her first attempts to pump breast milk. She tried massaging her breast and was relieved to discover how much that helped. Looking back on that time today, she realizes how lucky she was in figuring out how to perform the hand expression technique. Many new mothers are not that fortunate.
“It was not something I learned while I was in the hospital, I had to look it up myself,” she adds. “The educational aspect of it is non-existent unless you take it upon yourself to Google: ‘How to improve your breast pumping’, or have the help of a lactation consultant.”
That realization inspired Rachael to undergo the week-long training to become a Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC). She has long been a fierce advocate for the health benefits of breastfeeding and helping new mothers use various milk expression techniques to overcome slow or inadequate flow issues. But she did not have any formal training or background in the field of lactation counseling.
“I wanted to learn the scientific reasons behind hand expression, and why lactation consultants recommend it,” she says. “I want to be able to help my friends, family and members of our growing Imalac community. I know from personal experience that if they’re having trouble breastfeeding and don’t have support, it’s a very frustrating experience.”
One reason so many new mothers struggle with milk expression is that they receive little, if any, instruction while they’re in the hospital. Even if they have the world’s best nurse and spend time with a lactation consultant, the focus is on getting the baby to nurse. Once they return home or have to go back to work or school, and they’re juggling their schedules with finding time to pump and the baby’s own feeding schedule, they find there is no one qualified to help them when problems arise.
“It would have been helpful if I was sent home from the hospital or pediatrician’s office with at least a pamphlet containing basic tips on what to do if the breast is engorged, or your flow is slow, but I was totally on my own,” Rachael remembers.
And that’s a feeling Rachael wants to help other mothers avoid. There are a number of organizations that can help provide advice and certified lactation counselors. For example, the La Leche League USA has hundreds of local chapters nationwide. The International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) provides its counselors with intensive education and training on the anatomy, physiology and psychology or breast feeding and how milk production works.
But Rachael acknowledges that just finding a lactation consultant can be difficult.
“That’s where mommy groups on Facebook or other social media platforms can be so helpful in answering your questions, providing advice and referring you to a trusted lactation consultant,” she adds.
Rachael and the Imalac team are preparing for the 2019 launch of Nurture by Imalac, the world’s ﬁrst device to mimic hand expression when used alone or while pumping. Sign up to receive regular updates on our progress, and connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.