Lactation Counseling & Infant Feeding Support with Marlee
Feeding your baby can be one of the biggest challenges of the newborn period. Whether breastfeeding, bottle feeding, or some combination of the two, chances are you've had some questions or challenges along the way.
As a breastfeeding counselor and postpartum doula, Marlee has that calming presence new parents need when they're going through the most trying times of the early weeks with a new baby.
Think of Marlee as your breastfeeding doula!
Her gentle support and knack for creative problem-solving lend themselves perfectly to supporting families in feeding their babies. She offers focused care and mentoring through feeding issues of many kinds, helping you feel supported (and less overwhelmed!) as you sort through whatever challenges may be at hand.
Marlee is available for in-home lactation counseling throughout Orange County and Long Beach.
Read on as Marlee describes her lactation counseling process!
How I can help
If you're experiencing feeding issues, contact me to let me know what's going on. Here are some of the challenges I can help you address:
- Pain when nursing
- Finding a feeding rhythm that works for your family
- Figuring out how often your baby needs to eat
- Learning baby's hunger cues
- Difficulty getting baby latched comfortably
- Cracked nipples
- Concerns about milk supply (undersupply or oversupply)
- Baby is sleepy at the breast
- Helping baby learn to eat from a bottle
- Baby is having tummy problems
- Switching between feeding at the breast and feeding with a bottle
- Helping to identify a different type of bottle that may work better for your baby
- Helping you explore other feeding options (spoon, syringe, SNS, cup, donor milk, formula, etc.)
- Plugged milk ducts
- Pumping guidance and storing pumped milk, including for exclusively pumping parents
- When and how to start solid foods
Getting support often marks a turning point in the newborn journey. Contact me sooner rather than later! I am often able to fit in same day or next day requests depending on my schedule.
Lactation/Infant Feeding support a la carte: $75 (1-2 hour visit in your home)
Lactation/Infant Feeding Support Bundle: 3 visits for $200 ($25 discount)
Lactation counseling visits are normally between the hours of 9am-5pm, but I am sometimes able to schedule visits outside those hours so you can get the help you need quickly.
Preparing to Breastfeed
If you're planning to breastfeed your baby, consider taking our Breastfeeding Basics class during pregnancy.
This 2-3 hour private class for expecting parents is a great way to become familiar with what to expect throughout your breastfeeding journey.
In classes, we will talk about:
- Breastfeeding as a skill that both you and your baby will learn
- Learning to read baby's hunger cues
- What to expect in the first couple days
- What to expect in the first week
- What to expect in the first month
- How to care for your body when you're nursing a newborn
- 24 hours in the life of a nursing newborn baby
- Pumping and milk storage basics
- What to do if breastfeeding doesn't go as planned
- Helping baby learn to eat from a bottle
- Some of our favorite resources for questions new parents often ask
As with any class, we won't be able to teach you absolutely everything you need to know. One of our goals will be to help you feel prepared to ask for help during your breastfeeding journey, and to develop a working knowledge of what resources are available to you.
What is a lactation counseling visit like?
The basic format I use in lactation counseling visits is:
- Where are you now?
- Where do you want to be?
- What is already working for you?
- What new skills, knowledge, or help do you need to move forward?
- After learning and practicing, what is working? Is anything further needed?
Initial visits take place in your home and usually last between 1-2 hours. When I arrive, we will talk about what's been going on so I can get a good understanding of the challenges you're dealing with. Sometimes the act of talking about these challenges in and of itself with someone who "gets it" can feel healing! Sometimes it helps to know that you're dealing with is normal (usually it is!). Often there are things you're doing instinctively that are working already, so we will spend a few moments recognizing all the hard work you're already doing despite the challenges you're going through. We'll also talk about your values around caring for your baby so I understand what your goals are and can offer steps toward solutions that will be helpful for you.
After I've had a chance to hear from you what your struggles and goals are, we will be probably be actively working together toward some solutions to help you on your journey. Depending on the situation, I may observe a feeding, work with you to try nursing in a different position, show you some tips and tricks for bottle feeding, help you figure out some ways to keep baby awake at the breast, show you some options to help relieve pain and soreness in the breast, etc. If your partner or older children are around during our visit, I would be glad to show them some things they can do to help support you as you nourish your baby.
We can also talk about the mechanics of producing milk, expressing milk, and baby's intake process. Knowing what is happening biologically can sometimes help parents either reframe expectations of themselves or their baby, or understand why their challenge is occurring.
Once you're feeling comfortable with the things we've tried and are finding some relief, we will talk about some goals to work on over the next week or two. I usually schedule a follow-up lactation counseling visit for around 2 weeks later, so we can get that on the calendar as well.
After our initial visit, I will follow up with you by email and include any links to resources I think you'll find helpful based on our time together. I will also include any referrals for additional care for you and your baby.
Follow-up lactation counseling visits can make all the difference. Seeing each other again 1-2 weeks after our initial visit can be very helpful in ensuring that both you and your baby are getting the support you need during what can be a very challenging time. Since babies grow and change very quickly, you might be surprised how some of the things we worked on in your first visit don't work anymore, or that something that didn't work before can become your favorite tool.
No two lactation support visits are the same because no two parents and no two babies are the same! My support is always, always nonjudgmental and open-minded. It's my privilege to work with a wide variety of families with differing goals and perspectives on caring for their little ones.
If you need more help
If you find yourself struggling even after an initial lactation visit and a couple follow-up visits, you might want to consider purchasing a postpartum doula package. In my role as a postpartum doula, I'll be able to spend more time with you and your family helping you adjust during the newborn period. I will also be with you more often to help make sure feeding is progressing well and support you in your daily routine with baby.
Oftentimes my clients find that having someone coming over for several hours a few times a week to answer their questions, help with food preparation and light housekeeping, and give them some personal time for a nap or shower makes a huge difference. It also means that you'll have your lactation counselor right there with you a few times a week, instead of having to schedule individual visits.
If your early parenting experience could use some TLC, I'd love to provide that extra layer of support for you and your family.
What does lactation "counseling" mean?
I use the phrase lactation counseling or feeding counseling to describe the way I support parents who have questions or need some assistance with feeding their newborns. In the role of a peer mentor/counselor, I will never give you a definitive rule about "how to do it right." My role is to help you learn to find solutions for your particular challenges, rather than to hand you a copy of the "rules" for feeding babies that seem to make their way around the internet.
I often help parents sort through the problem-solving process. Learning to feed your baby in a way that works for you, your baby, your values, and your lifestyle can be daunting - especially if you're doing all of that on very little sleep! I'm here to help guide you along the way toward figuring out what will help YOU. The answers are different for each family, and there is no one-size-fits-all model for life with a newborn. Sometimes it helps to talk out your problem-solving process with a compassionate guide, and that's where I come in.
I'll give you support, compassion, and encouragement just as much as skills and knowledge to help you as you cope with the challenges you face.
Whether you're looking for breastfeeding support, help with bottle feeding, or some combination of the two, my goal is to provide steady guidance to help you develop confidence in your own ability to take wonderful care of your little one.
Advice from family and friends
Many of our clients find that their families and friends have a lot of advice to offer around feeding their baby. Sometimes advice from loved ones - no matter how gently it's meant - can feel overwhelming and critical during the sensitive postpartum period. Sometimes it feels like everyone has their own opinion on how you should feed your little one, and none of those opinions match up with what you're doing or what you want to be doing.
It can be helpful to remember that older friends and relatives raised their babies in a different era. The study of lactation, infant nutrition, gut health, and so many other areas relating to baby-feeding have come a LONG way in the past 20 years. Sometimes well-meaning loved ones can give advice that is now known to be unhealthy or unsafe. It can be difficult to validate that while that may have worked for them and their children, you're choosing to do things differently.
It's also important to remember that everyone is different. Every parent, every baby, and every family is different. Something that worked for someone else may not be right for you, just as something that's solving your family's problems might not be the right fit for someone else. Sometimes it's not a matter of whose way of doing things is better, but a matter of which way of doing things is better for YOU.
For compassionate and practical help in dealing with these kinds of things, we recommend Elizabeth Pantley's article on Handling Unwanted Advice.
Feeding advice from pediatricians
Sometimes pediatricians can be a wonderful source of help with feeding during the early months. But sometimes, that's not the case. Many parents are surprised to learn the limited extent of breastfeeding knowledge pediatricians often have. (One study estimated that pediatricians only receive 3 hours of breastfeeding education per year during their training.)
If you're working with a pediatrician you trust who is providing care in alliance with your goals and values as a parent, that's wonderful! If you don't find yourself with that sort of relationship with your pediatrician and you have questions or doubts about feeding advice or information you've been given, schedule a visit with a lactation counselor.
Lactation counselors and consultants are often the best local resources for help with feeding a baby (and thriving). My perspective encompasses both parents and babies, allowing my support services to really be whole-family care. Often pediatricians are limited in the amount of help they can give because they only see one piece of the puzzle. Since I can come into your home and don't have a waiting room full of other families to examine, we can take our time getting to know each other so I can really understand where YOU are coming from and what YOUR challenges are.
Lactation counselor support often marks a turning point in the newborn journey. If you're struggling with advice given by your baby's pediatrician and would like to chat, let me know.
Are you a lactation consultant?
No, I'm not. The term "lactation consultant" is reserved for those who are International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs). IBCLCs can provide medicalized care for you and your baby concerning lactation. Their clinical lactation support is covered by some insurance providers and usually costs around $200+ per visit. Often IBCLCs work in hospital lactation clinics or pediatricians' offices. Many IBCLCs work as lactation consultants full-time, especially if they are employed by a hospital or medical group.
Because of the high cost of receiving care from a lactation consultant, I've seen many families hesitate to reach out for help at all. That's one reason I offer lactation support and mentoring as part of my work. As a lactation counselor, I have the flexibility to offer this service in addition to my other offerings as a birth and postpartum doula, childbirth educator, etc. This is just another facet of my support for families in Orange County and Long Beach. Think of me as your lactation doula!
Of course, my lactation counseling services are not a replacement for clinical care from a lactation consultant. If during our time together it becomes clear that the type of feeding help you need is outside of what I can offer, I will refer you to a local IBCLC for clinical assistance so you and your baby can access the care you need.
What other baby feeding support is out there?
- Informal peer support (advice from family & friends)
- Formal peer support, including breastfeeding support groups like La Leche League
- Professional support, including lactation counselors like me
- Lactation consultants (described above) for more medicalized, clinical care
- Online resources (visit the Infant Feeding section of our resources page)