Today’s article features Nicole Peluso, IBCLC, RLC, CD, founder and owner of Birth Bungalow.
Every lactation consultant has her own approach. Nicole has chosen to take an educational approach, focusing on educating and preparing the mother about breastfeeding in advance of her birth. In her opinion, it’s inspiring how the Affordable Care Act compelled insurance companies to cover this aspect of women’s health that had been previously ignored. Now, all insurance companies must provide lactation coverage for all mothers. They must give breast pumps to mothers free of charge with no cost sharing, each time she has a baby. Since lactation services are now available to all women, even prenatally, Nicole can focus on her cause of action, - educating mothers 'to be'. Amazingly, this additional access to care has improved breastfeeding outcome across the nation.
In Nicole's opinion, there are two things that separate her as a lactation consultant from others in this field. – One, she has an enormous personal experience breastfeeding having done so for 13 consecutive years. Along the way, she ran into many breastfeeding challenges which prepared her to help others and added a layer of understanding and compassion.
Two, she is actually an insurance professional and has been a licensed life and health insurance agent for many years. This background was able to help her fully take advantage of the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that lactation services and supplies be part of the covered expenses. In addition to her private practices that she manages in Los Angeles and Connecticut, Nicole also has a billing service that caters specifically to IBCLCs. It’s called Lactation Billing Services (www.lactationbilling.com)
So what is her greatest achievement as a consultant? Helping moms lactate when they did not birth a baby due to surrogacy or adoption: this is also known as induced lactation.She explains that there is an intense protocol for encouraging a woman's body to produce milk when it hasn't gone through pregnancy changes, and she marvels at the brave and dedicated women who go through the protocol and provide milk to their babies despite this challenge.
Nicole feels that, the biggest mistake parents make is thinking they will deal with breastfeeding after baby is born. Parents do not realize that so many of their birth choices affect breastfeeding. Some examples are how a long epidural can lead to a sleep baby who doesn’t have enough energy to feed, how many hours of intravenous fluids can lead to swollen breasts that are hard to latch onto, how prophylactic use of antibiotics can lead to thrush infections on nipples that are very painful and difficult to get rid of, or how an induction can lead to milk coming in 2 days later than normal which can lead to formula supplementing. It is important to think of the whole picture when planning for baby and not just the day of birth in isolation.
Before the year ends, Nicole hopes to open her new birth center and told us“I love working in a community setting of holistic practitioners. Right now, we have lactation consultants, doulas, childbirth educators and lots of other teachers on staff, and I am looking to hire midwives and nurse practitioners so we can open our birth suites.”
For the record, Nicole shares her best breastfeeding tip: "Sleep close to your baby. Your favorite moments of motherhood will be when you wake up in the dark of the night and see your little baby quietly staring up at you. It's the best thing in the world to wake up to. (And breastfeeding is MUCH easier when baby is easy to access while you are half asleep and it's time to nurse.)"
Before ending the conversation, Nicole, explained to us that she donates time and supplies to teen mothers in hopes that their breastfeeding experience goes well. Some of the strongest moms she’s met are the youngest but their breastfeeding rates are low that is why she does her best to partner up with school districts to provide whatever is needed so these young women can have the best transition possible to motherhood.