An interview with Lactation Consultant Taylor Aguirre of
Taylor-Made Lactation in Mundelien, IL
As you know - nursing can be both an amazing bonding experience and, at times, a bit of a challenge! That's where lactation consultants come in! These experts can be a total game-changer when it comes to guiding and supporting you through your breastfeeding journey. Today, I’m chatting with Taylor Aguirre, a Lactation Consultant in Mundelien, IL. She’s going to share the common reasons folks seek help and all the ways a IBCLC can help.
What are the most common reasons lactating parents come to see you?
I’d say some of the most common reasons people seek out the help of an IBCLC like me would be painful latch/baby not latching, questions about pumping (particularly pump flange sizing/pain with pumping, how to incorporate pumping and bottle feeding with nursing), low milk supply, and issues with baby’s weight gain.
How do you help them with that?
I think one of the biggest things I help with is providing referrals to other providers. I’m often seeing parents at only a few days postpartum, maybe before they’ve even seen a pediatrician or their OBGYN for a checkup, so I’m often identifying issues with baby’s weight gain, a parent’s milk supply, postpartum mental health, baby health issues such as jaundice, torticollis, etc before another health care provider identifies it. So I give a lot of referrals to physical therapy, occupational therapy, mental health resources, breastfeeding medicine MDs for a low supply workup, etc. Obviously, during a visit with me (or any other IBCLC) we will weigh the baby, do a weighted feed before and after nursing, do a pump flange fitting (those are some of my favorite appointments!), help with positioning and latching, troubleshoot a low or high milk supply by going over a full health history as well as daily feeding habits. I like to think I also help by giving parents a supportive listening ear to talk about things like debriefing their labor and delivery experience, asking me common newborn behavior questions and normalizing things like babies wanting to be held and fed constantly, and reassuring them they're doing a good job.
Can you tell me about your education and certifications in lactation consulting?
I have a master's degree in counseling psychology and worked for a few years doing counseling for two non-profit agencies in Chicago. When I had my twins 8 years ago I struggled with nursing them and ended up spending a lot of time at the IBCLC's office, in addition to lots of internet research, support groups, and figuring it out on my own too. I ended up leaving my job to be a stay-at-home mom and while I was home decided to change careers. I first decided to become a La Leche League leader and to do that requires reading a few books about breastfeeding, in addition to having a mentor and studying with them, then I ran my own group in Libertyville for several years until the pandemic happened and we lost our meeting space and I decided to retire as a leader. In the meantime, I had my third baby, and breastfeeding her was wonderful and easy. I started the process to become an IBCLC when my twins were about 2, and I did most of the training online, a Certified Lactation Counselor training program in 2017, and worked for a year for the Lake County Health Department doing peer counseling. I finished my IBCLC training in 2021 and sat for the exam. I started my private practice that fall and ever since I've been doing TONS of continuing education about all kinds of things like pump flange fitting, bottle refusal, tongue tie, and more.
If someone is thinking about hiring a lactation consultant, when should they reach out?
If you had trouble nursing a previous child and want things to go better/differently this time, if you have a history of breast surgery (implants, reduction, breast cancer), if you have a condition such as a thyroid problem or PCOS, if baby is clicking/leaking/squeaking/wheezing when feeding by breast or bottle, if baby won't take a bottle, if you suspect low milk supply, if pumping is uncomfortable/painful, if you're worried about pumping at work, questions about weaning from pumping or nursing, starting solids and balancing nursing/bottles/solid foods, if baby is having poor weight gain... there are so many reasons to contact an IBCLC! It never hurts to book a prenatal consult, but you can book a visit at any time in your feeding journey, even up to weaning!
What resources do you recommend for new moms to help them succeed in breastfeeding?
I'm a big fan of https://www.kellymom.com which is a website written by an IBCLC. I also like the book The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding and highly recommend a prenatal consult with an IBCLC before delivery to go over your medical history, any previous challenges with infant feeding, get your questions answered, and get recommendations on bottles, pumps, and more. Many local IBCLCs and hospitals also have breastfeeding classes for parents, those won't give personalized recommendations like an IBCLC visit will, but they can definitely help with covering the basics!
How do you handle situations where a lactating parent might need to supplement with formula or consider alternative feeding methods?
Rule number one is feed the baby. If we're working on a parent's milk supply and they're not making enough to exclusively provide human milk, then I offer resources for accessing donor milk (both informal like Human Milk 4 Human Babies and Eats on Feets and formal through milk banks like The Mothers Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes) because most parents don't know that's an option that's available, and then I always cover formula options (ready to feed, powder, etc) as well as instruct them on safe formula prep guidelines. If you didn't know, powder formula needs to be made with water heated to 160 degrees, I usually encourage parents to purchase an electric tea kettle with temperature settings on it, then the powder mixed in BEFORE cooling to drinking temperature. Formula powder is not sterile and can contain bacteria so heating the water to this temperature reduces the risk of illness. I don't recommend the Baby Brezza, it doesn't get the water hot enough, and also sometimes mixes the wrong proportions of water to powder. Instead, I recommend buying a formula mixing pitcher like Dr. Brown's one and mixing a whole batch of formula for 24 hours so that way you only have to boil water once a day! We can also use a supplemental nursing system to tube feed the baby at the breast even if that supplementation needs to be done with formula instead of human milk.
What is your experience with helping nursing parents return to work while continuing to breast/chest feed. Can you offer guidance on pumping, storing breast milk, and bottle-feeding expressed milk?
Absolutely! I love doing back-to-work consults. Going back to work can make or break a nursing relationship so it's important to know your rights pumping at work, how to pump and store milk, having a good quality breast pump and properly fitting flanges... One of the most rewarding things I do at consults is pump flange sizing because within a single pump session, you can see how almost instantly the pumping becomes more comfortable and more efficient. I carry a ton of different types of pump flanges in my kit, from size 10 mm to 30 mm, silicone flanges like Lacktec and Pumpin Pals, hard plastic flanges, wearable pump inserts... I love helping parents maintain that nursing relationship once they go back to work by making sure they're able to pump effectively while away from baby.
Thank you so much, Taylor! Where can people find you?
I also run a weekly support group for parents at Just Bee You in Mundelein, on Monday mornings from 9-10 am! The first group is free and there's a $25 one-time registration fee after that for 12 months' worth of groups as often as you can make it. The registration link is on my website as well as the Just Bee You website. We have guest speakers (pelvic floor PT, marriage counselors, pediatricians...) and special events like holiday parties as well.