Lactation Counselors declare their love

Chelton (right) poses with Jana and Ty Phillips at a Natural Healing Families Breastfeeding Sharing and Info Group she facilitates.

In beautifully written verse, Hearthside Maternity Services’ creator Angelique Chelton, CLC, CBE, SBD declares her love for all women who offer breastfeeding support to women in need in a recent post on Angie’s Blog.

She recounts her experiences as a somewhat new lactation professional and thanks others for sharing their passion and knowledge. She denounces division between lactation care workers and calls for unity within the field. Chelton expresses her hope for eventual extinction of the current demand for lactation professionals and shares Healthy Children Project’s Renewed Call for  Collaboration.

“I hope to see a world where the wisdom about breastfeeding reverts to those to whom it has always belonged- the wisdom of breastfeeding lies in breastfeeding mothers,” she writes.

Ms. Chelton, in response to your powerful, inspiring post and critical services you offer, I hereby declare my love for you. As you have, I extend my gratitude to lactation professionals no matter what title(s) they claim.

Unity and respect requests

Chelton has been assisting breastfeeding dyads for a little over 18 months. She lightheartedly calls herself a newbie. Even so, all of her clients have achieved their breastfeeding goals.

She says that the most difficult part of her job is being misunderstood and/or misrepresented by other professionals.

“In the few years Hearthside has been open for business, I’ve managed to ruffle some feathers in several nests,” Chelton says.

She says asking the hard questions, listening, thinking critically and speaking truth gently isn’t always the easy road to take, but it’s the right one and it’s the one she chooses to navigate.

“Professional integrity, including respecting the work of others in the same field, is a vital thing,” Chelton says.  

Hunger for knowledge

While training as a doula, Chelton completed an internet-based breastfeeding course but was eager to learn more.

“I saw CLC training with Healthy Children as a way to expand my professional services,” she says.

She adds that nursing her children was tremendously important to her and she saw expanding her knowledge as a way to honor her personal breastfeeding relationships.

Chelton’s CLC training also provides her insight on disparities within our healthcare system.

“Wealthy people are able to afford access to services like CLCs which can be essential to their breastfeeding success,” she explains. “I am thrilled that the Affordable Care Act now makes CLC services accessible to more mothers. I hope to see insurance coverage of Lactation Care Professionals expanded so everyone, included the least advantaged in the U.S., can have easy access to assistance when needed.”

Tragedy and triumph

Hearthside Maternity Services launched in 2009 in Montgomery County, Pa. Clients have access to lactation services including support groups and counseling, pregnancy and breastfeeding education opportunities and bereavement doula services.

While Chelton’s passion encompasses “the entire childbearing cycle,” there’s one aspect of her work that is especially close to her heart: her connection to Stillbirthday, an organization that serves families suffering pregnancy loss and parents who receive difficult and/or fatal diagnoses prior to delivery. Chelton serves as Stillbirthday Director of Education & Training and as a birth/bereavement doula.

I learned that Chelton suffered two miscarriages prior to the birth of her son Alex and daughter Fae. I wondered if these raw, unimaginable experiences help her bereavement services or make them more difficult. The following is her response:

Having had two devastating experiences with pregnancy loss deepened my well of empathy for women suffering through perinatal bereavement. After carefully examining my healing journey and after training to offer professional perinatal bereavement services, I am able to allow the flow of healing energy to go from me into my clients. When I am in need of a recharge, I have a network of friends and colleagues who are able to pour back into me.
I find that doulas who have their own pregnancy loss history, are in a unique position to comfort a bereaved family. I don’t believe one must have experienced a pregnancy loss to comfort others, but there are experiences that are so common to bereavement, they almost become an unspoken language. We can never sit in another’s soul and mind to understand exactly what they are feeling, but there is absolutely a resonance that happens between a person who is hurting and one who has hurt in that same way.  

Despite the tragedies Chelton sometimes confronts, she finds purpose in families’ confidence to handle difficulty and their ultimate success stories.

Recently, Chelton created a series of webinars covering a variety of topics for parents, birth workers and lactation professionals. January through March selections are currently open for registration.

Visit Hearthside Maternity Services on Facebook for more information.

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