On our Spotlight today is Alyssa Schnell, MS, IBCLC. Alyssa is the founder of SweetPea Breastfeeding Support located in St. Louis, MO. As a lactation consultant, Alyssa provides breastfeeding support and guidance to mothers who are struggling and has difficulties with breastfeeding. Also, she works with expectant parents who anticipate some extra breastfeeding challenges. Her specialty is working with adoptive and intended (through surrogacy) mothers.
As a lactation consultant what separates Alyssa from the others is that she believes she is playing a key role in re-defining breastfeeding in the sense that she encourages parents to create their own definition of breastfeeding that suites their individual circumstances and values. Some of her teaching stresses that breastfeeding is not all-or-nothing but instead, mothers can breastfeed regardless of how much milk they make, if any at all. One other thing she wants to emphasize on this teaching is the value of a baby simply suckling from his mother's breasts for comfort and connection. In contrast, she still supports mothers who choose to exclusively pump and bottle-feed if that meets their goals.
As a consultant, she confides that her greatest achievement was the book she wrote: Breastfeeding Without Birthing: A Breastfeeding Guide for Mothers Through Adoption, Surrogacy , and Other Special Circumstances. Indeed this book has been instrumental in supporting these special mothers and their breastfeeding professionals worldwide.
Parents are not perfect, we all know that. When we asked what is the biggest mistake she sees parents make and how they should fix it, Alyssa shared her opinion about how parents only look outside themselves for directions instead of trusting their instincts. Pediatricians, peers, the internet and even lactation consultants are only sources of information. The parents themselves are the experts on their babies. They have firsthand knowledge about their babies so they should trust their own inborn parenting instincts while gathering information from the resources around them.
So what are her plans and goals for next year? Alyssa confided that she plans for 2016 to be monumental for her business. She is partnering with Hope Lien, CD(DONA), PC, CLC to create an online community of support for parents interested in breastfeeding outside typical situations. Also, beginning in early 2016, Breastfeeding Outside the Box will roll out a podcast and webinars, will have a private Facebook group and more.
Like most lactation consultants, she started out as a breastfeeding mother. She gave birth and breastfed 2 babies, and then adopted and breastfed her third. It was this amazing experience of breastfeeding after adoption that propelled her into the field of lactation consulting. In line with this, she shares her best breastfeeding tip, “Treasure this time! Never again in your parenting journey will there be one thing you can do for your child that fills their tummy, comforts their tears, eases their pain, warms their body, helps them to sleep and to wake up, and makes them (and you!) feel so completely loved as breastfeeding can.”
To learn more about the services Alyssa offers: consultations, podcasts, webinars, book, and more please check out www.SweetPeaBreastfeeding.com .