Tipper (Tiffany) Gallagher AKA “The Boob Geek” is a Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC) and Certified Lactation Educator Counselor (CLEC) sitting for the IBCLC exam this summer, a journey that “started with deciding to take the CLC course almost exactly five years ago.”
Gallagher has been a member of The Childbirth Collective for several years and occasionally presents at Parent Topic Nights about breastfeeding and the postpartum period.
She has spoken at the Twin Cities Birth and Baby Expo and the La Leche League of Minnesota and the Dakotas Spring Conference and is part of the Best For Babes Social Media Team.
Even more, Gallagher offers a variety of breastfeeding classes through Flutterby Birth Services in Edina, Minnesota.
Without further ado, everyone please welcome The Book Geek this week on Our Milky Way!
Q: What did you find most inspiring about the The Certified Lactation Counselor Training?
A: I was most inspired by the instructors. Karin Cadwell was one of them, and I recall telling her at the end of the second day that I would like to be her when I grew up. I was impressed by the instructors’ ability to answer absolutely every question thrown at them, and being able to cite studies left and right. They also described doing their own research on breastfeeding, which intrigued me.
Q: How have you incorporated what you learned during your CLC training into the work you do today?
A: During the week of my training, I would come home and type out what blew my mind each day, and, let me tell you, it was a lot. One of the biggest lessons I took from my CLC training was that the vast majority of people giving advice about breastfeeding were not sharing evidence-based information. I have taken the emphasis on evidence from the course and carried that with me. We often have science to back up why we do what we do when it comes to breastfeeding; let’s use it.
One of the principles I operate from, which stems from that desire to share evidence-based information, is that you are not just helping the breastfeeding or pumping person in front of you. You are influencing what that person will tell other people. If you’re helping in a group setting, what you say will be heard by others. If you’re talking to someone in a Facebook group, you have an audience of not just those who are commenting or clicking like, but the people who are hanging back and watching. And, maybe even more importantly, when you’re working one-on-one with a parent, they will share what you say with others, particularly in this digital age.
Q: You integrate your editing and web skills into your lactation work! Please tell us more about this intersection.
A: My current “day job” is as a desktop publisher and copy editor, and I have long felt that one way to build your credibility as a company or individual is to produce information that looks good and is accurate down to the last comma. While not everyone cares about or notices these things, you never know when a client will pass you over because you capitalize words that aren’t proper nouns or can’t use fonts consistently. When there are so many care providers to choose from, you need to stand out at every opportunity. It makes sense to me to combine my niche areas of expertise to offer help to other birth, baby, and breastfeeding professionals. In addition to websites, I’ve done logo design, PowerPoint presentations for conferences, and have advised on and edited a book about working and pumping (Work. Pump. Repeat. by Jessica Shortall, which will be released on September 8).
Q: How do you incorporate social media into your work helping moms? Any advice for other lactation professionals?
A: When it comes to helping families, I use social media primarily to spread information that I think is sound—and to share jokes, because I am not a very serious person by nature. I also direct people toward resources (such as where to find a La Leche League meeting) when they need additional help. While I share information about classes and other events I’ll attend, I do not focus on marketing myself on social media, except in terms of building reputation.
My advice for lactation professionals when it comes to social media comes down to “be careful”: Share articles and blog posts that you’ve considered carefully; the people who follow you depend upon your expertise and knowledge and trust you to share quality information. Be mindful of ethical concerns when it comes to giving advice without seeing someone in person. Take care to separate your private and professional life and maintain boundaries with the people you serve.
Q: In your blog post My favorite things about boobs you write “I could probably write a post like this every week or so; there is so much to learn. We develop a deeper understanding of the science behind lactation, which better informs practice and necessitates rethinking some things and inventing some new ways to talk, teach, and demonstrate about breastfeeding.” What do you find to be the most captivating thing about breastfeeding at the moment?
A: Something that continually keeps things interesting is that every parent and every baby brings something unique to the table. Every single situation is different and brings with it new challenges and joys. I am captivated by each individual I meet and am grateful that they’ll let me in to this aspect of their lives.
Q: What’s the worst myth about breastfeeding circulating in our culture?
A: One of the most pervasive myths is one that is spread without most people realizing it: that breastfeeding requires a lot of intervention to work. So many well-meaning people provide suggestions to eat more (or less) of this food, drink more (or less) of this beverage, take this supplement, breastfeed in this position/for this long/on one breast/on both breasts, and so on. It can be overwhelming to hear so many suggestions, some of which contradict each other. In reality, you need some breasts and a baby, and when some intervention is needed, it’s usually fairly simple and temporary. I think this can be particularly overwhelming when using groups or forums to ask questions, as you’ll get a lot of feedback from a lot of different people without knowing what is credible and what isn’t, and won’t know where to start.
Q: What’s the best part of working as a birth and lactation professional?
A: There are two best parts. When it comes to helping families, the best part is helping them achieve their breastfeeding goals, whatever those may be. Our breastfeeding stories, the good and bad, are carried with us throughout our lifetimes, and I relish the opportunity to help create more good stories. The second best part, the selfish one, is that I’m never bored. Every person and every baby is different. Our knowledge of breastfeeding keeps changing. There’s always another new person or idea to meet.
Q: Are there any birth/breastfeeding initiatives that you are particularly excited about?
A: I love that there are more and more non-profit milk banks and milk bank depots springing up around North America. Human milk literally saves the lives of fragile infants, and we need to increase awareness and availability of banked human milk. I love that there are also hospitals that will use pasteurized human milk for any infant with a medical need for supplementation…