Craniosacral therapist inspired by lactation training

When I first reached out to Melissa Kilanowski, CST, CLC, she questioned whether or not her story was worth sharing.

“My story with breastfeeding is mostly only my own at this point,” she says.

Kilanowski breastfed her two oldest children “because it was the best thing to do and the cheapest way, honestly.”

“It was good, and it worked, but it wasn’t something that I felt passionate about,” she admits.

Then, Kilanowski’s third baby was stillborn going into her 35th week of pregnancy.

“After my loss, I very unsuspectedly grieved not being able to nurse that baby,” she begins. “I expected other pieces of the grief process, but I didn’t expect that and I didn’t expect to be sad and angry at my body.”

When her fourth baby was born, Kilanowski says she had a “whole different approach and determination to nursing.”

Thrown for another surprise, nursing her youngest child turned out to be the most challenging.

Thinking back to her Lactation Counselor Training Course (LCTC), she says: “When we went through the day of all the pictures of poor latch… I sort of laughed and sort of had PTSD anxiety attacks because I could identify with nearly all of the examples.  I don’t think I realized just how much we had to power through until we found help.”

Biodynamic craniosacral therapy (BCST) ultimately saved her breastfeeding relationship with her youngest. This experience became the impetus for her new practice, she says.

Kilanowski sought out the LCTC with the intention of gaining tools to help breastfeeding couplets who might come her way for CST work.  

While she says she loves school and learning, she found herself intimidated to attend the class having no prior clinical lactation experience. Going into the course, she says it felt “very daunting and big.”

Kilanowski called the Center for Breastfeeding with a request for the course guide in hopes that she could better prepare for the class. A staff member reassured her everything would be fine.

Kilanowski quickly found that going into the course without preconceived ideas actually worked in her favor.

“I was more of a sponge and didn’t have to fight my brain,” she explains.

Kilanowski praises her instructors Jacquelyn Benson, RN, CLC, ANLC, IBCLC and Donna Walls, RN, BSN, ICCE, IBCLC ANLC.

“[They] were so good and so knowledgeable,” she begins. “The other thing that struck me was when I approached them outside of the lecture time, they were so personable and eager to talk. They were gentle and kind and open and supportive.”

She found the LCTC’s evidence-based focus especially beneficial in light of our culture where mothers are often judged and shamed no matter how they choose to feed and raise their children.

“Being able to approach parents and caregivers with evidence-backed facts and information, rather than subjective opinions, breaks down barriers,” Kilanowski explains. “It takes it from a perspective of ‘you should…’ to ‘here are some statistics to consider; you make the best decision for you and I am here to support you in that.’”

With a new set of information and tools, Kilanowski reports being flooded with ideas and inspiration to help her community in St. Cloud, Minn.

Because CST providers are limited in her area, Kilanowski plans to network with other care providers and community members to educate the public about the benefits of CST work.

Kilanowski sees the value in collaboration too. She plans to foster a relationship with the local hospital’s Family Birthing Center unit to see where her services might fit into their clients’ needs.

Moreover, she hopes to build bridges between the medical world and the holistic realm.

“I wish we could see more of a collaboration between the different modalities of health care so that we can address the whole person,” she explains.

Because of her own loss, Kilanowski has a particular interest in helping families navigate loss.

And despite her eagerness to help, she recognizes her limitations too.

“Maybe not everybody wants my fantastic help,” Kilanowski laughs. “That’s hard too, to have the knowledge and the tools and you want to go save the world, but your tools may not be welcome, and not in a negative way.”

Her humility and her story most certainly deserve a place in the lactation world!

You can connect with her here.

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