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Episode 96: Mom-Centered Lactation Care with Cait Ahern

, , March 1, 2023


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Jacqueline Kincer 0:03
Welcome back to the Breastfeeding Talk Podcast. I’m your host, Jacqueline Kinser. And today, I’m so excited to bring you this awesome guest who, if you’ve, you know followed us online or if you’ve been a part of our Nurture Collective community, you’ve seen her, you’ve heard from her. Her name is Cait Aheern, and she is actually part of our team over here at Holistic Lactation. So Cait is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, or IBCLC, which is short but not that short. She’s also a birth educator. She’s got her degree in child and adolescent development, and she runs a private practice in her home state of Idaho. She’s on our team, like I said, and then she’s our community manager for the Nurture Collective. Cait is amazing. I’m so excited for you to hear from her today. She specializes in things like oral ties, pumping older babies, low supply, she’s experienced and caring for neurodivergent families. We’ll chat about that. And she offers accommodations to ensure support for every family’s needs. And Cait and I are kind of kindred spirits, because we have two kids seem ages six and nine, although my nine year old just turned 10. And she’s experienced her own breastfeeding difficulties, like a lot of us who have come into this work. So I’m excited to chat to her on the show today. Welcome, Cait.

Cait Ahern 1:57
Hi, thank you excited. Yeah, absolutely.

Jacqueline Kincer 2:01
Oh, my goodness. Well, you’ve got to tell us all of the things. You and I are, like, you know, is the same stage of our parenting journeys is one another. And, you know, gosh, nine years of, you know, being a mom, right? Like, how did it all start out for you? How did things go in the very beginning? Because I know that’s part of why you’re here today.

Cait Ahern 2:24
Yeah, unfortunately, not great. Unfortunately, because it was hard. But But fortunately, because it led me to this place. So yeah, my my son, my nine year old, he struggled with almost everything as a newborn. So the one thing that we didn’t struggle with was weight gain. And so we struggled with, you know, painful nursing, frequent nursing, terrible sleep, I was so sleep deprived for months. But he gained weight. Well, even though he cried all the time, I cried all the time. He was a fat little baby. And so everybody said, this is fantastic. You’re doing a great job. And nothing to see here. Nothing to worry about. I think I knew in my gut somewhere that this was not typical, but didn’t really know how to find help aside from, you know, I went to my local local lactation buttons at the hospital, we were able to use a nipple shield to really get things going at first and troubleshoot some of those early problems. But we never really hit full resolution, and just kind of powered through. I mean, I nursed him for two years. But it was difficult for different reasons along the entire journey of that. And even though it was hard, and I never really got a resolution for anything, I appreciated the help. I did get so much that and I saw what a what an important experience it was for my baby to have that nursing comfort and connection. And so I decided I wanted to be a part of the team who does that for other people. And so I went back to school with everything going on with a really high needs baby. I was like, let’s take on one more thing and go back to school.

Jacqueline Kincer 4:15
That’s what I did. Wow. Yeah, that’s, that’s amazing. I love that you saw saw the value and not just like the support, but also how that breastfeeding relationship was so important to your baby. And sounds like you as well. Right? It was something that you decided was worth fighting for. But you shouldn’t have to fight so hard.

Cait Ahern 4:38
Right? Yeah. And that’s what I tell people all the time you’re doing, you’re doing a great job, working through the struggles but let’s let’s try to not make this so hard because it shouldn’t have to be and that’s, you know, it’s always such a hard thing to to put that value on it. But you know, it’s it’s worth the fight up to a point and we’re glad we’re glad You’re trying but also, this is too much. And nobody should have to do that, right?

Jacqueline Kincer 5:05
Yes, absolutely. And this is one of the reasons why I love you so much, because I saw a post the other day in a, like a group for private practice lactation consultants. And it was just a lactation consultant posted a baby product, and she was asking for opinions on it. And immediately, there are a lot of IBCLC is chiming in about how this is just a terrible product. And moms should be sleeping in bed with their babies, and they should be nursing on demand, and they shouldn’t have to go back to work and they shouldn’t, you know, need to, you know, worry about being woken up at night. And yeah, that’s all fine. And well, in a perfect world, if that’s the lifestyle that you want, what I appreciate about you, and the perspective that, you know, I try to offer to is that we do live in a modern world, we are, you know, just the minority of people that are interested in homesteading and living like, it’s the old days, that is not the majority of people. And even if people wanted that they can’t, it’s just it’s not possible. And like so, you know, what are you going to tell those clients who, you know, realistically, yeah, they do you need more sleep, and you know, they cannot share a bed with their baby, or they shouldn’t be or, you know, like all of these things, right? Like, you’re saying, it shouldn’t be that hard. Like, why why is it? Do you think that there’s this like, arm of our profession that feels like, we have to have this like high standard and that you if you’re not doing X, Y and Z, you’re not doing it right. Like, that makes breastfeeding so hard and unattainable? Like, but, you know, you’re saying, No, we don’t have to work that hard. Like, it’s not. I don’t know, I just I just find this like dichotomy, right?

Cait Ahern 6:47
It’s never all or nothing. Yeah, yeah, I just had a patient. Gosh, last week, at some point, who, you know, we’re, we’re working through some, you know, troubleshooting some issues. And you know, that the three priorities for me are always make sure babies fed, make sure Mom is okay. And if she wants to work on her supply, then let’s do that. And then if mom wants to get baby back to rest, then we’ll work on that. But first priority of babies should be fed. And she was doing that she was managing that with lots of compensations but managing it. And so while we work on these things, fantastic, we don’t have to worry about baby’s weight, because you’re already making sure they’re fed. So that’s the perfect baseline for us to now try and work on some other things, because that’s just off the plate. And so working on supply, this mom in particular had a high blood pressure pressure issue. And so she has to be on medication for her own health and safety, that makes her feel really tired and out of it at night. And so she is not doing any night nursing, no night pumping, dad is completely on, on call for baby’s needs in the middle of the night. Now, what we know about breastfeeding biology, and the science behind it is that frequent milk removal, especially in the middle of the night, during these early, you know, months is really important for future milk supply. So the science would tell us, yes, she needs to be removing milk in the middle of the night. But the reality of her situation is that that is not safe for her or her baby.

And we need her to be healthy and cared for in this moment where her body is really struggling to recover from the trauma of having high blood pressure and how that affected her birth. And so a big part of our conversation was me saying, You’re doing the exact right thing for your family, I am so glad have made this choice to have dad take control of feedings and not even worry about removing milk at night because your body needs needs to be okay. So that you can then come back and do these things when you’re more able. So when she hits her six week checkup, the doctor might decide to take her off this medication. And then we can say, hey, situation is different circumstances are different. Let’s see if we can add in some milk removal at night. But like, what point would there be to trying to get her to do something that would be extremely difficult and stressful for her at this point. There’s no point now we’ll handle that later. We do the best we can with the information we have and the circumstances we have. So I just don’t I just don’t believe that the science of how milk is made should ever be above a family of well being.

Jacqueline Kincer 9:29
Yes. Oh, that’s a beautiful example as to why that’s so important. Right. And, and why taking that holistic approach of looking at something other than just you know, lactation in a vacuum is critical for people to be successful with breastfeeding. Right because otherwise she would. She had seen someone else had read some information online that was like, Oh, I have to be removing milk in the middle of the night in order to have a full milk supply. Well, I guess that’s never going to happen for me. So why then breastfeed like that would be the alternative for her. That’s terrible, right? Like, that’s not support. That’s not information, we know that some breast milk is better than no breast milk. So like, you know, and it’s obviously something important to her because she’s seeking you out to get this, this care and this advice and this guidance. So, yeah.

Cait Ahern 10:14
Or it could be an unsafe situation where, you know, if, if she’s trying to get baby to be the milk remover, then we now have a parent who is, understandably knows that she is, you know, not as coherent as she should be in, in the nighttime hours, or, you know, perhaps falling asleep with the pump on and then getting damaged because she was not aware of her, you know, pump settings and how it was feeling. And then we have a damage issue on top of a milk supply issue. So it just, you know, you gotta end and sometimes we do recommend, like, Hey, thank you can we really need you to wake up and try to do a night pump, because, you know, this is what’s going on for your body. But knowing when to suggest that and when to focus on other things, I think is a big part of it. It’s just like understanding your patient and what their needs are and what their goals are and what they can handle.

Jacqueline Kincer 11:09
Wow. I mean, it sounds like you have been practicing for like, 30 years. How did you get so good?

Cait Ahern 11:18
I have had amazing teachers.

Jacqueline Kincer 11:22
She’s not talking about me either guys. I am, though it’s not just me, I swear.

Cait Ahern 11:30
Yeah, yeah. I mean, I know I had a I have a mentor locally, who I worked with, during my clinical period, Melanie Hedstrom, who was such a big part of, you know, teaching me all about pies and everything. But then also, you know, I get to work with you. And Gina and we talked about so many things, and I’m constantly learning from you guys. So

Jacqueline Kincer 11:52
we’re, yeah, we’re all learning from each other constantly, which is amazing, right. And thankfully, you know, there’s so many great, you know, options for education and continuing education, and all those things these days, which is just wonderful, right? And these abilities to share our observations and clinical learnings with colleagues is so critical. So yeah, absolutely. And I think to your point to, like, there’s always this just, you know, sort of, I don’t know, if we always explicitly say it, right, but like, you’ve got to when it comes to anything health wise, but you know, we’re talking about breastfeeding, if there’s something going on that’s impeding your ability to function well, like, we have to take a look at, you know, is there a way we can address that? Or do we need to, like, stop trying to do that thing? Because, you know, I think of the example of like, you know, oral ties, right? Where moms are like, Well, yeah, I can I can breastfeed, you know, it’s, you know, only hurts in the beginning, or whatever. And, you know, some families might opt to not have the ties treated like maybe has, you know, they have a fat baby like you did, right? So you’re like, Well, I can manage, and they make it to two years and whatever. And they’re totally welcome to choose up. But then we have others that are like, I don’t know if I can ever latch this baby again, because I’m just in horrible pain, right? And so, I’d love to talk about that, like ties, specifically. Because it’s not just like, you know, finding the ties, right. But it’s also like, if we do discover them, then what do we do about them? And it’s not always as easy as go get them cut. So it’s like a huge conversation, obviously. But it goes into what you’re talking about, about just, you know, how do we choose what to do? And when and have those conversations with our patients?

Cait Ahern 13:40
Yeah, I know, meeting people where they’re at is, is the only way to make progress. You know, I mean, it depending on what somebody’s situation is, how long they’ve been dealing with the issues, how much aversion they have to this idea of adding one more thing to their plate, right, as you can have a pretty, you know, rough situation. But if you’ve acclimated to that rough situation, and the idea of struggle, or for a short period of time, even if it means some resolution after that short period of time, it can be too much. And so being able to recognize that, and then not just saying, Well, I guess we don’t do anything, but okay, then tell me what your goals are. Tell me, you know, where can we make some concessions if if this changed with this feel more manageable for you? And kind of I mean, so much of what we do is not just about like we said, making the milk, it’s about helping these families navigate the hardship that comes along with breastfeeding issues and being able to talk to somebody and say, what is it that you’re, what is it that you’re concerned about or worried about? Or, you know, if it’s about having to do stretches for six weeks afterwards? Well, let’s talk through what that looks like. Because your idea of what that looks like versus what it actually looks like might not match up and then once you have an understanding of that maybe you feel better about you know, it just being able to talk to people, and just tell them what they need to be doing. But figuring out, what will work for them is just so much of how my appointments go, right? Because I understand that, like, I’m an anxious person, I, you know, I went through all of these difficult things with my baby. And so I feel like I connect to that idea of like, understanding that people have a bandwidth for dealing with hardship, and working around that working with that, digging down into what those issues are, is, it’s just so different for every family, like no, no tongue tie situation looks the same as far as I’m concerned.

Jacqueline Kincer 15:45
Oh, very true. So true. And I think what you just described is exactly why somebody who is experiencing breastfeeding challenges should work with an IBCLC, one on one, versus trying to comb the internet, a book a course whatever, for an answer, because it really is so helpful to have somebody who’s able to assess a third party outside unbiased look at you, and, and walk you through that, but also use their professional hat to say, this, you know, is your bandwidth for certain things right in this category, and here’s, you know, your options, and every possible avenue that you could take, and let’s decide together what’s best for you. And then let’s talk through, like, if you do this, you know, then this is how it’s going to go. Right. But trying to do that on your own, especially when you don’t have that, like background, just baseline level of education regarding breastfeeding lactation is so incredibly difficult. Like it’s never a quick question is what I always tell people, you know, I love I get a message, I have a blog, what do I do? Well, while I could obviously give you some tips on how to treat a blog, and you could probably go find a blog article or a YouTube video or whatever, right? I mean, I can make a podcast episode about webs. But that doesn’t really address, you know, how did it form? And how do you keep it from coming back? And what’s going on outside of that, like, is this your first flub, I don’t know. Like, there’s, there’s all these other things that and then when we go through these layers of the onion, and we discover, oh, my gosh, yeah, she’s been struggling with anxiety. And she didn’t think it was safe to take her anxiety meds now that she’s breastfeeding. So it’s even worse. And, you know, we’re like, there’s always something right. And with ties, like, it’s not an easy thing to learn that your perfect little beautiful human that you’ve just birthed has something wrong with them. Right. And I see a lot of parents take that really personally, like, Oh, my goodness, you know, and oh, I thought it was me. I thought I was the problem. Like the Taylor Swift song. It’s like, actually, it’s not you. It’s your baby, right?

Cait Ahern 18:02
Yeah. Yeah, it’s, it can go so many different ways. When you bring it up, like, you know, I have some patients come in, and they’re like, Okay, this is my third kid. I know what’s what’s I know what’s going on here, I just need you to take a look and walk me through it right? And we’re like, right, we’re good. And then sometimes you are the bearer of bad news. And that can look like some people being relieved, like, Oh, thank goodness, there is a reason that things have been hard. And now we have a plan. And that is so validating for them. And for others, it can be, you know, really overwhelming to think that one something is wrong to you, because mom guilt is, you know, a real thing. And we need very little reason to spiral, you know, it can be what did I do to make this happen? Is this genetic? Is it you know, people want to ask a lot of questions about that. Or just, you know, have to really sit with that information for a while. And sometimes you, you know, you’re like, well, let’s make a plan. And they’re like, I need space to think and you have to go, Okay, I’m here when you need me. Well, we’ll talk later, you know, yes, yes,

Jacqueline Kincer 19:07
there’s so many different reactions, and even LLC, like, you know, the other parent sometimes will have a totally different reaction. Right? And they’re like, Oh, how do we get you guys kind of on the same page?

Cait Ahern 19:20
You know? Yep. Yep. My philosophy tends to be to be the person with damaged nipples gets to have a little bit more clout in that situation. But you know, we encourage communication.

Jacqueline Kincer 19:34
Absolutely, for sure. And, you know, I think when it comes to, you know, so much of what you’ve said, all of that is something that works really well when you are working with patients in person or virtually right, all of these conversations options. You know, it’s a verbal conversation that we’re generally having, right? But I know a lot of families get kind of hung up on when it comes to the issue of oral ties or if it’s nipple damage or, you know, anything that’s, you know, visually obvious or needs assessment, how do they go translate whatever is going on with their bodies to working virtually with someone on video? Because obviously the verbal aspect that works great, we’ve got that that doesn’t matter if you’re, you know, in front of me or 3000 miles away, right? So I’d love to, you’re just so good at this. You’ve gotten so good at doing the telehealth side of things. But it can be difficult to explain. And if you’ve never had a telehealth breastfeeding appointment, right, it’s one thing to, you know, call your doctor and say, you know, I have this cough, and, you know, they prescribe you some cough medicine, right. Breastfeeding is a little bit different. So I’d love for you to talk about that.

Cait Ahern 20:46
Yeah, I, it’s, you know, it’s interesting, because my style of doing consults in person and virtually is, is so similar, I think it’s, it just is really natural for me to do a little bit more of like a step back approach. And, you know, I love doing in person appointments, because obviously, like, once we work through whatever, I usually take some time to like, show, you know, the family how to do like some body work and stuff. And that means I get to like work with some real cute, snuggly little babies. But as far as like the actual breastfeeding, troubleshooting, that I tend to be very hands off with that in person anyways. And so I just think that so much of learning how to do these things, as a new mom is tapping into your, you know, you’re into brain, which is what is supposed to be heightened during this period, right, like, that’s the whole Mom Brain thing is that your analytical side has shut down and your, your intuitive brain has kicked into high gear. And so instead of, you know, having somebody come in and do all the things for you, or like show them to you in that way, I I tend to just step back and you know, guide visually, I do a lot of I have a lot of like demo models next to my desk for when I do telehealth stuff, I’ve got boobs, I’ve got mouths, I’ve got flanges, I’ve got all kinds of stuff that I will pull out and show people things. I will have people if we need to, you know, assess baby’s mouth, I’ll have mom do it and help describe to me what they’re feeling. I will ask them questions. CMC, you know, does when you when you touch their palate, you like there’s a little divot up there that your finger just pops right into? Does it feel? You know, like, it’s really, really flat, we, we talked about those things. And I think it’s really helpful in that when they’re feeling it themselves. It’s easier to go, oh, gosh, yeah, now I know what you’re talking about.

Like, now I see why we’re having such a problem. If I just put my finger in the baby’s mouth in person and do the assessment, which I do when I’m in person. But I usually take the time to like, show parents what I’m seeing too. But when it’s your finger that pops into that high palate. And you I say that’s, that’s why you’re having nipple damage, because the tongue is pushing into that part, instead of being drawn back. I just think it clicks so much better for parents like, Oh, God, no wonder my nipples are cracked and bleeding, of course, you know. And so there are ways that we can guide through these things. You know, show them what we’re looking for. And, yeah, I don’t know, it still lands, it’s still, we still figure these things out. And also, I love so much when people send me photos and videos ahead of time that I get to look at beforehand. Because it really takes the pressure off of that, you know, you know, time load what our appointment is, because I can sit and watch a pumping video or a video of a baby nursing. And like watch it three times three times in a row notice something different each time. Whereas if we’re just trying to do it during the appointment, you know, my observation has to be quick. And, you know, I, I might not see something in that quick appointment that I’ve seen with on a video. And so I oftentimes will have people like I’m so sorry, I sent so much and like no, never apologize for sending me things. I gave me all of the information, because that’s how we figure out what’s going on, and then make a plan to help.

Jacqueline Kincer 24:17
Oh, yes. Oh my gosh, yes, I know, the more videos and photos that we get the better. Because like you said, it’s just more information. And, I mean, those of us who have done that in person care, which was hopefully everybody that’s an IBCLC I mean, you could eventually just do all virtual like we do or what I do, but um, you have to have that in person experience, obviously the clinical hours side of things. But yeah, like you know, the appointment time does not drive with baby sleep schedule, and you don’t even get to see them feet sometimes like, that’s awful. And so with telehealth dating people are just better set up for those expectations, right of, you know, sort of checking their email or their text notification and corresponding in that way, whereas with in person, it’s it’s not as, as much of a thought. So while people absolutely can send us, you know, photos and videos before they come to an in person appointment, if they’re doing that, like, that’s all you typically an option, right?

But it’s like it’s just more conducive to telehealth but then also like after the fact, right, so you have this appointment up all of this information, you’ve gone through it, now they have a chance to implement some of the stuff that you’ve told them to do, or that they’ve learned. And they can kind of go, Hey, this is how it’s going. Now. What do you think? You’re like, wow, that looks great. Or we could still make some adjustments. So that’s really cool as well. And I think people don’t get that, that it’s like we don’t, hopefully, right, we’re not doing it for you. And when you come in person, like that’s not the goal of seeing a lactation consultant in person. I had an experience where with my first I gave birth in the hospital, and I was so relieved they had an IBCLC on staffing knew what that was, I knew that’s what I should ask for. And my nipples were already bruised, nursing was painful, she came in shoved the baby on my breasts for me so quickly that I had zero understanding of what she even did to make that happen. And she was like, yeah, just do that every time. And I was like, do what how? Like, I have no idea conceptually, I don’t even know where your hands were, that was so fast. Like that’s a zero value, because I never learned how to get a painless latch. Now. Turns out he had ties, so it probably didn’t matter anyways. But like, that’s not what we’re gonna do for you in person. So I love what you said about like, you know, you’re pretty hands off anyway, it doesn’t really change anything to do the appointment virtually because we want you as the one who’s breastfeeding your baby to know how to do this stuff yourself. That’s the whole point.

Cait Ahern 26:48
Absolutely. Yeah, I had a similar experience with my first where not only did I experience the whole like grabbing, but he was already so so activated with his, you know, central nervous system, you know, fight or flight that he was arching his back and he was crying so hard. And the nurse was like, Oh my gosh, why is this baby so angry? I’ve never seen such an angry baby as we’re trying to shove him onto the boob. And I was like, Oh, good. I got I got an angry one. All right. Like that’s what am I supposed to think as a new mom with like, a two hour old baby, you know? So yeah, we don’t do that.

Jacqueline Kincer 27:29
That’s that’s like some real hubris to assign that type of emotion to a baby that age like,

Cait Ahern 27:36
but how often do we hear that? Like, Oh, my baby hates breastfeeding? No, they don’t they they’re struggling to breastfeed. That’s, they want nothing more than to be connected to you in that way. And but we assign those values and I just think that’s so sad. The same thing with lazy nursers. They’re lazy. They’re working so hard. Yes. i When my son was, we finally got home nursing nursing Stovall. And I called the nurse line, the lactation nurse line to be like, I he is either crying or he’s asleep, and I cannot get him to nurse in either state. And so I was trying to nurse him, he was just so sleepy, I had undressed him, I take all these totals, I did all the things. And I’m talking to the nurse on the phone, and she’s like, Listen, you are the boss of that baby, you need to wake him up, and you need to get him to feed. And I was just like, I don’t know what you think this is, but I’m clearly not the boss of anything ever again. And I am in no control of this situation. Like, I can’t believe y’all let me leave with this baby. You know, so I, I just think about that all the time. Like we are. We don’t have lazy babies. We don’t have angry babies. We were. We’re not. We’re just all trying to get through. Right. And so you need to stop assigning these. These values to it.

Jacqueline Kincer 28:57
Yes, yes. Oh my gosh, it makes me think of I’m not my son is very into Marvel. So I’m not the expert, but I’ve learned through osmosis and watching movies with him. And we saw the Spider Man No way home movie. And there’s the character and they’re one of the villains. He’s got like the mechanical arms, like an octopus kind of

Cait Ahern 29:17
thing. Oh, dakak Yes. I’m also in this marvel side world right now.

Jacqueline Kincer 29:25
Right so I now it’s, you know, been too long since the movie. I’m not I’m not gonna get these details. Right. If you’re a listener, you know what I’m talking about. But he has something related to his superpower that gets removed and it was like causing him pain. And he’s like, turns out that it’s not he’s not a nasty mean person. Yeah. Do you know that scene that I’m talking about?

Cait Ahern 29:45
Huh? Yeah, it also makes me think of marijuana with to car and to fi T to cars just to feed it without her heart like, oh, that movie. Seeing that because that came out. You know, when I had little, little kids and the That was just such a powerful moment about like, I assigned to motherhood. But when she tells her that this is not who you are, I was like, that’s all of us. This is not who we are in these early motherhood days.

Jacqueline Kincer 30:13
Yes. I just got chills, right? Like, oh my gosh, like you said, I’m not, I’m not in control of anything. But this nurse tells you to be the boss of your baby like, yeah, you know, it’s a crazy time, right. And then we’re trying to figure out breastfeeding on top of it, I just, I don’t know, I’m always in awe. Like, the more that I do this work, the more that I just think the fact that anybody breastfeeds beyond like the first week or a couple weeks is just honestly amazing. Because even if you don’t have a job to return to, even if you do have great support at home, like, it’s still there’s still so much that you’re going through that you have gone through with pregnancy and birth, right, just all of the changes in your body, like I’m a month out from spine surgery right now. And that was planned, like it was, you know, very specific, right? Not a sudden thing that just, you know, sort of occurred that had to be handled. And it’s like, that recovery, obviously, is intense. But like, you know, I’m able to do that, like moms who have C sections, and emergency C sections, and then they have to breastfeed on top of that, like, I just go, I don’t know how you do it, because I didn’t have a C section. But breastfeeding was really freaking hard. And like to recover from that at the same time. Like, I’m just always in awe. Like, I just if you’re listening to this, and you’re still breastfeeding, and you’ve had it really hard, like, you’re amazing. I mean, it’s just, that’s enough, already. That’s enough, because I just I don’t even know if sometimes how people do it. But we’re resilient. And we’re incredible.

Cait Ahern 31:46
Yeah, and that’s what I tell people all the time to is, you know, because, like I said, mom guilt is such a pervasive thing. And, you know, we hear a lot of, you know, feelings of failure, when things aren’t going well. And it, it just blows my mind every time because I’m like, Are you kidding me? You are doing something absolutely incredible, you know, depending on what their pregnancy was, like, what their birth was, like, like, we’re, you know, body is healing, you might have had traumatic things in your pregnancy or birth that you are healing from emotionally. You’re learning how to be, you know, parents and like your, your relationship dynamic has changed. You’re, you now have this baby dependent on you and your body is trying to make milk at the same time. Are you kidding me? Like, of course, you are succeeding. If anything, our system has failed you because for whatever reason, you haven’t felt supported in the way you need it at this point. And that can look a lot of different ways. I mean, I have such a supportive partner. My mom breastfed me, my sister in law, who I’m very close to was breastfeeding. At the same time, I was like, I had people around me who were like, yes, we are, we’re in this with you. And it was still so hard, because there were certain areas where support was lacking. And that wasn’t the fault of anybody in my family or my, like, close support team. That was a systemic issue. Right? So I just the you are not the failure. The environment might be failing you, but oh, my gosh, are doing such amazing things, even when it doesn’t feel like it. Right. You know,

Jacqueline Kincer 33:25
I wish I wish more people could, you know, kind of, sometimes you have to, like go through it to realize that, you know, but if you just knew that up front be so helpful.

Cait Ahern 33:36
Because I know, wouldn’t it be nice if we could just just understand that I mean, but you know, we’re always our harshest critics too. So I know, if somebody had said that to me, in my early days, I would have been like, yeah, okay, you know, like, I don’t know that it would have landed the way I hope it lands with people when I say it, because you’re just so deep in it, it’s hard to, it’s hard to see through the fog.

Jacqueline Kincer 33:58
Yes. And for anybody who’s you know, had a, you know, maybe they’re a type A personality, or, you know, maybe they’ve been very successful in other areas of their life up until that point, and that can be really difficult for some people to move into a place of acceptance, right, and not create that self blame and feelings of guilt. And, you know, it’s interesting, because, you know, we’re talking about all these all these different things, which are, you know, very common, right, and somewhat expected. But then there is the spectrum too, right of, you know, how much anxiety is too much anxiety and you actually have an anxiety disorder. And then on top of that, you know, I think we’re doing a good job of recognizing, like anxiety and depression. Well, no, we’re doing it. We are doing a great job, okay. But the medical community as a whole list, doing a better job of recognizing those things. But now there’s this other layer that needs to be recognized, which is neuro divergence, and it can have comorbidities or symptoms. have anxiety or depression or other things? But you know, those are, you know, Autism Spectrum Disorder and ADHD. And I mean, we could even go into dyslexia or other things, right. So OCD, oh, my goodness, you know, in I don’t even know where this stuff falls like, I think it’s all moving so quickly. It’s like what falls into what category two, you know, and so many therapists and psychiatrists have gotten really away from the label and just gone, you know, there’s a collection of symptoms here. And that explains what’s going on. Right. And so this is sort of like a niche thing that people tend to have to seek out on their own. How does that translate into working with someone who’s experiencing those issues when they’re breastfeeding? Because that’s like a whole other layer to add on top of it.

Cait Ahern 35:50
Right? Yeah. I mean, you know, it’s, it’s interesting, because I think sometimes we have, you know, things that we say, or expectations of motherhood that are said with the best of intentions. But in situations where we have something like neuro divergence, it can actually be really overwhelming to think about, right. So like, the example I’m thinking of is, like when we have a situation where somebody needs to pump regularly. Pumping is hard. Having a bad relationship with your pump is really common, it’s really common to have aversions to pumping, when when you have something like ADHD, or autism, where you’re, you know, your sensory sensitivities are high, your follow through, particularly with ADHD, were being able to complete a task or feel paralyzed by the idea of a task. You know, those can be really difficult things. And so a, like a really common suggestion is, if you’re having a hard time pumping, look at pictures or photos of your baby, or smell their blanket, right? Because we’re trying to like induce those lovey dovey hormones that then make you like, feel good about pumping. Well, for some people, that can feel really stressful, because now there’s that pressure of expectation on top of having to actually do the physical steps of pumping, which are already overwhelming. And so then it’s like, I don’t want to do this thing, because I have to listen to the pump going. And that’s overwhelming to my sensory needs. And, you know, then I have to just think the whole time about how I’m looking at this B that I have to feed and if I don’t fill these bottles, then how is this baby going to eat and those can like compound on top of each other. And so, you know, that’s, that’s what I mean, when I say that, when I am working with families who are neurodivergent, making accommodations and things like that. I give you permission to not look at pictures of your baby, when you are pumping. i If looking at your pic pictures of your baby or videos is not giving you those lovey dovey hormones, that’s okay. That doesn’t make you a bad mom. You know, let’s, let’s let go of that and figure out how to make pumping practical for you. So if you have to sit and scroll through tic toc mindlessly and not do anything else while you pump, because that’s when I get that’s what’s gonna get you through pumping, then that’s what you do, right? So like, figuring out how to how can we set up the pump in your space to make it more likely that you will sit down to do it? How can we address your sensory issues to make it so that you don’t have to hear the pump while it’s going? Or make it feel better? Or reward yourself somehow for having gone through the last stage of the process to make sure it actually finished it right. You know, those are the kinds of things that when someone says, Listen, I, I have ADHD, and that pump just makes me want to scream. Okay, let’s talk about one whether or not you really need to pump let’s talk about how we can make your pump more comfortable. What’s your hang up, and then also, let’s figure out how to incorporate it into the life you’ve actually live. Because me just telling you to pump eight times a day, and leaving it at that is not that person’s never going to pump they’re not going to do so we have to again, meet people where they’re at.

Jacqueline Kincer 39:09
Yes, yes, absolutely. Those accommodations are so important. And I think, you know, a lot of times, people that do, you know, have those diagnoses or they’re aware they have a condition, but they haven’t gotten an official diagnosis, right. Sometimes they struggle with opening up to their health health care providers. And those are real issues too. So the fact that you have had patients share that with you or you’ve been able to, you know, uncover that and have those conversations is really powerful, right, because we are never trying to prescribe something that is not going to work for somebody. Likewise, I’ve definitely had, you know, clients, you know, they have time blindness as an issue of ADHD. I didn’t realize it’s been, you know, six hours since I pumped like, you know, that now my boob hurts and it’s leaking everywhere, you know, so be like, you know, what do you do What’s your day, like, tell me about your typical day, if there’s something where, you know, every few hours there there may be moving around in their, in their space that they’re in, put your pump right there, so you see it, or maybe it’s setting an alarm on your phone, you know, something of that nature, right? Like, let’s create a system of awareness for you. And then you can, you know, make sure you get that task done, or whatever it is, right. So, yeah, it’s just so fascinating, because I always would encourage anybody who, you know, is experiencing, if it’s sensory issues, or something else, like, you know, if there’s something that you’re chronically going to need to do for yourself, please share it out with your provider, because otherwise, you know, they may be giving you a plan, that’s just not going to work for you. And then what’s the point?

Cait Ahern 40:44
Yeah, and, you know, sometimes we, you know, we don’t get information, and we don’t know whether or not there’s a diagnosis, but, you know, we hear those things where it’s like, you know, the idea of cleaning, cleaning the pump afterwards, like having more dishes to do that. I just can’t even get started. Because thinking about that. Is that always an ADHD issue? I mean, probably not. But like, the, the prescription is the same, let’s make the cleanup process easier. If we don’t have a premature baby, if we don’t have any sort of infection issues to worry about. Just rinse your pump parts, put them in a plastic bag, throw them in the fridge, do it once a day like that is that’s a recommendation that lots of people follow to make, you know, something easier when they’re at work or whatever. But if you’re at home all day, and it is just an issue of having another dish to, you know, clean, or sanitize, gives you that paralysis, then that recommendation is for you also, let’s, let’s not, you know, let’s let’s make sure that we can key in on what the actual aversion is, and then see if we can find a way around it, you know?

Jacqueline Kincer 41:53
Yeah. And I’ve had, I’ve had clients that have like, self discovered things, too. They’re like, yeah, I just went and bought like a ton of extra pump parts. So that way, they can just all get dirty, I throw them in the dishwasher, but I still got clean ones in my bag. And I’m like, I mean, they’re not that expensive. And so if you have the funds, like go for it, you know, that sounds way easier. Like I, you know, I don’t know that I found many people that truly enjoy doing dishes anyway. And like, there’s just so much that you know, whether or not you do have something, you know, going on reducing overwhelm during this time period is really important, right? Because maybe, maybe you’re totally mentally stable, and you have no neurodivergent qualities at all. But throw in birth and postpartum and breastfeeding and baby. And like, you might find yourself feeling a little overwhelmed. So just, yeah.

Cait Ahern 42:47
Yeah, I mean, if you had a C section, and you, you know, your partner has to go back to work the next week, and you are on your own with a healing wound and your abdomen. Yeah, I don’t think standing at the kitchen doing apart dishes is really what you’re gonna want to be doing right now. So so it absolutely has so much crossover with all of these situations. And you know, that, that’s what makes what we do. So necessary, rewarding. I mean, being able to take all of these situations that look so different and find a way to fit those puzzle pieces together, I think is part of what I enjoy.

Jacqueline Kincer 43:29
Yeah. Oh, it’s like playing detective, you know. And so when when you do find those, you know, really customized solutions and plans, you know, that you give to those patients? You know, I What are some of the things that you hear from them? Because obviously, this is something you’re co creating with them. So, you know, after they’ve kind of, you know, gone through that process with you. And then, you know, if it’s a couple days, a few weeks, sometimes it’s months later, we hear from them, what are some of the things you hear from those families that you’ve worked with?

Cait Ahern 44:02
And I mean, I always end my concert, kind of recapping, okay, what are our most important steps? What are our first steps, you know, and then always making sure we know what to look for, right? And so, being able to say like, okay, priority number one is, you know, trying to see if we can fit in more pumps in a day or whatever it is, and then being able to check in and say, okay, is this working is this plan that we’ve created actually working in your real life? And if they say, Yeah, you know, it’s finally manageable, we’re doing great, fantastic. Like, then we can, you know, move on to the next step, or whatever it might be. But it’s not always perfect the first time and sometimes we have to come back and say, Yeah, this still isn’t working for me. Okay, back to the drawing board. Let’s figure it out together. Because even when it doesn’t work, the way in which it didn’t work, give session and then we can adapt. Right and so, I mean, yeah, it’s, it’s nice to be able to have that back and forth. and problem solve with somebody instead of it just being like, a prescription from a, you know, a script that like, well, this is what we do for this situation. And so this is what you need to do and go for make it happen, right? Like, it’s, it should be a conversation about what’s working and what’s not. And let’s adapt. And it’s like, you know, a living thing that we do together.

Jacqueline Kincer 45:24
Yes, oh my gosh, I just wish that all healthcare functions like this, because then it would be amazing parts of it do and it’s very, it’s very dependent on the individual that you get to work with. It really, really is. I mean, I don’t want to, like, keep bringing up my own example. But like, you know, the surgery that I just had I, you know, going into it was kind of the, you know, the surgeon and in general things you would read online from people with had it, oh, if you’re young, you’re healthy, like, you know, you’re gonna wake up and like, be in less pain, like, No, I woke up, and I was in the most excruciating pain of my life once I was out of recovery. And like, I mean, in tears, and the medicines they gave me were so incredibly strong, and they couldn’t give me any more because my blood pressure was so low from the medications, but I’m still a seven out of 10. With pain, nothing was wrong, nothing went wrong, surgery was great, the hospitals great, everything’s great. I have very high tolerance for pain, but still, like, those individual circumstances, and the fact that I had nurses that like, understood that. Okay, so we’re gonna give you ice packs, 24/7, we’re going to do this, we’re going to do that, right, like, constantly monitoring me checking on me adjusting those dosages. And not just following a protocol either, like when I informed them, like, I generally have low blood pressure. So I know that looks like a scary number to you. That’s not actually that foreign of a number for me. And so did we allow my blood pressure to go lower than they probably would have some other patients? Yes, but they were also looking at how alert I was, and how coherent I wasn’t all of these other signs, right? They’re looking at the other vitals, it’s not just this vacuum of, we absolutely cannot give this medication, because XY and Z, you know, criteria isn’t met. And like, that’s what it takes, right? That’s what it takes to good care. And it sucks that we always have to advocate for ourselves and like, work really hard to ask the right questions or say the right things and sort of arm ourselves with education. But hopefully, if you work with the right person, you don’t have to do all of that heavy lifting and all of that work, right? Like, that’s what we love bringing to the table. That’s what you do. So Well, Cait is just that, like, heavy lifting of I understand all of the possibilities that you know, this, you know, mom and her baby can be going through, here’s what’s happening to her right now. Like, let’s make sure we’re on top of everything for her so that she doesn’t have to worry, right, like, the other thing too, is that, you know, we’re always, we’re not always, but I mean, the majority of the time working with other providers, right. So if you’re recognizing ties, it’s not just you that’s handling that. So maybe you can talk a bit about that collaboration and care too, because there’s a pediatrician, and maybe there’s an OB or midwife, there’s a dentist, there’s somebody else, you know, body worker of some sort, like, that’s a lot to write. And I think that’s somewhat unique to our profession. So I’d love for you to chat about how you see that going, and what that involves.

Cait Ahern 48:16
Yeah, so I mean, you know, the, the patient always has an OB and a pediatrician, usually, that comes before me those those people are already involved in the process in some way. And so sometimes that can look like, you know, providing more information to the pediatrician. And you know, I love it when love it when we have a pediatrician who like the parent will say, the pediatrician, you know, said weights not going quite as well as we want. But he told them, we’re breastfeeding, and they were like, oh, go to go to an IBCLC. And let me know what that’s like the dream. You know, and, and sometimes it’s more conversations about like, okay, let’s, you know, let’s, let’s figure out what what might be going on here. And then part of the conversation might be about advocating for, you know, more time more, you know, and it was just thinking about, like weight gain issues and how that can, that comes up so much in ways that, you know, looks different, different. So we might have a slight plateauing of weight. And depending on the pediatrician, that might be an automatic recommendation for supplementation. And so then we have to go okay, like, let’s talk about this. Let’s talk about what what your history is, did you have, you know, a lot of fluids during your birth and so your baby’s weight was inflated. And so this is actually an expected plateau where we they’re actually normalizing normalizing, or what’s the word I’m looking for? Just make their their growth curve is Like averaging out, right? You know, and so then I have to when a pediatrician says like, your baby’s not gaining the way we would expect, it’s instant panic, right? I mean, like, I don’t think there’s any parent who’s like, Yeah, I’m not gonna worry about that. Like, it’s, it’s a course that’s alarming. And so sometimes we have to go, okay, yes, that pediatrician is, you know, is a part of this team. And we want to make sure that we have all eyes on whether or not there is actually a weight away problems on here. So like, let’s let’s work together to see like, what are they seeing? And what are we seeing? And what I’m seeing is that their average weight gain over, you know, a period of time is, you know, within a normal, maybe not consistent, but normal. They are, you know, plump, they’re engaged, they’re not glassy eyed, like, these are all of these, like non scale things that we look at, too. And so can can we take that assessment and say, Actually, feet seem like, they’re going pretty well, these are the other things we’re observing, and take that back and say, okay, you know, do you do you have any concerns with this additional information? And so sometimes, you know, I’m having third hand conversations with pediatricians that I’ve never even met. And, you know, it all has to get filtered through, like parents and things like that. So, sometimes it can be hard to be like, Okay, how, how, you know, how do we make sure that this is a collaborative process that, you know, we’re keeping eyes on an issue that might actually be there without, you know, panicking over a good feeding feeding situation? If it if it looks good? And it seems like it’s working, then like, let’s go back and say, what are the expectations from here now, knowing this, you know, as far as like, like dentists and people who work on the frenectomy side of things, you know, that we, we are gathering information from across the world, for all of the providers who have good information and training and outcomes, and we try to collect that information. So that, you know, because we often have people who come to us and then go, Well, I have no idea where to go, like, now that we know, this is an issue, I don’t know who to take that next step with. And I love when we have a name and a phone number. And we can say you are going to be well taken care of at this place. Go you know, and it’s again, dentists that we’ve never even met before, but we’ve heard good things. And so we’re like, we know you’re going to be taken care of. And so we’re constantly trying to gather that information. And, you know, follow make sure that whatever we are recommending, whether it’s bodywork or assessment for frenectomy with a dentist, it always has a good indicator for outcomes. And if communication between us and the provider needs to happen, you know, we do that as well. But normally, it’s it’s the parent who really is being the middleman and like, you know, taking taking this information and going okay, my my chiropractor says that they don’t need any more bodywork and we’re like, okay, yeah, okay, we can move on from that. And, you know, trying to create a team for somebody so that it doesn’t feel so overwhelming.

Jacqueline Kincer 53:20
Yes. And I think that is, is really a big part of what we do when there’s ties, right is, is setting up the patient experience where they know what to expect, they know why they’re going to call this person, they have an understanding of what’s going to happen next. And we’ve sort of done this prep work, where I know the dentist I’ve worked with locally, a dentist Dr. Liz Turner that we’re going to have on an upcoming episode of the podcast, and she’s going to be a guest speaker for our nurture collective community too. She is going to talk about this because it’s the thing that she loves the most about being the dentist is that when families work with a good lactation consultant who understands ties, you know, we can’t do the procedure. We can’t, you know, make the official diagnosis, but the preparation that these families have the information that they’re given to understand what our ties, what are the impacts of those ties, but isn’t really the densest area though there to go, Yep, I see this restrictive tissue, you know, the movement can’t happen this way. Okay, great, I’m gonna treat it or I’m not. So that’s their piece, they can’t do all that other piece, and really does take, you know, that synergy between us. And then also, you know, again, without pediatrician, whether it’s, you know, giving, you know, you as the parent that information or it’s a you know, report that we’re sending or something of that nature, all of that is so important because, you know, if there’s multiple providers involved in something, even if it’s just a pediatrician doing a wild check, right, having that ability to to translate, okay, hey, here’s what’s going on with breastfeeding. This is what I’ve learned. This is what we’re going to try. And if the pediatrician Just like Okay, sounds great, glad you’re working with someone. Awesome, right? Even better, because they probably feel better like, oh, okay, well, I don’t have to manage that piece because it’s not really in my wheelhouse. And like you said, providers all over the world, right? We have this list that that is, you know, constantly growing as much as we can, right? So when we’re doing telehealth, and somebody’s in Australia, okay, well, we’re in Australia, are you? And you know, I will write that in there hop on, like Google Maps and be like, Okay, how far is that from the one that I know? That is closest to you? Oh, that’s a three hour drive. Okay, well, that’s kind of your only option. But here’s how we can plan that right. You know, and so you’re trying to figure out what those things are those resources. And the even cooler thing is, you know, now things are kind of, you know, back to some in person stuff. But before COVID, there was a lot more of that, you know, go to a conference, and I would meet these people that I was like, you know, you always had such great information on ties. And I know, I’ve sent people to you, but now I get to meet you. How cool is that? Right? So it’s really neat. We have this like worldwide network where we’re all learning from each other, we can, you know, send people their way or what have you. And, gosh, you know, I think telehealth has opened up so many doors to even just, you know, people who just really don’t enjoy leaving the house and are more introverted as well, right. Like, I just deliver it please like, if you don’t deliver, I don’t want it. And I love telehealth. For myself.

Cait Ahern 56:29
I also love telehealth for myself. And it’s more like I’m, I wouldn’t say I’m necessarily introverted, but I having the steps of leaving the house to go do something like having to cut out that time of my day, not just for the appointment for the time it takes to get to and from the appointment to figure out where to park like whatever. That’s that’ll that’ll just stop me right. But before we even start, I’m, it’s too much to think about. I don’t like it.

Jacqueline Kincer 56:55
So true. And you know, whether it’s a baby or children, like the age that Cait and I have, it is so much easier to go out of your house solo than it is with children. So if you’ve got to get the baby dressed, and in the car seat and all like, it’s a lot, it’s a lot some of you enjoy getting out of the house. That’s wonderful. That’s great. I’m so happy for you. There’s a lot of you that don’t, though. But yeah, being able to, like sit in bed. You know, I think that’s one of the things about, like, when I started out, you know, I just did home visits, right, and, you know, wasn’t very busy as a newbie, and things like that. And so that was great. Right, then as I got busier, wasn’t really viable, especially where I live, everything is very spread out. There’s a lot of suburbs. So if it’s a minimum 30 minute drive between one house to another, like that’s a lot less people that I’m able to help. So when I finally opened an office, I was like, This is great. You know, and, you know, I mean, people were willing to drive, right? They’re already going to the pediatrician. And so it’s like what’s, you know, one more sort of visit or what have you. But then what I’ve heard, since, you know, moving over and transitioning to telehealth, is people love, it’s like a blend of what you get in person and at home, because they’re like, This is so nice to be able to do this in my own environment. I normally nurse my baby in bed, or here’s the pillow I have on my couch that I use, right and like so we can still see the number of people that need our help, but we can do it, where it’s like their own environment with their own stuff. You know, like, How many times have you had like, you know, the mom on her phone on Zoom? And she’s like, Yeah, let me walk to the kitchen and show you my my bottles that I’m using. And they’re on the drying rack. Like, that’s amazing, right? Because otherwise Mom Brain she’s like, I don’t even know what random bottles I have. So those things are also helpful.

Cait Ahern 58:39
Right? Well, and also, I mean, the locations that people who have, you know, worked with us, I mean, the Yukon, the jungle of Costa Rica, I mean, we have worked with people where there is literally not a local option. And that is just that has blown my mind being able to work with people in middle and those kinds of lessons where it’s like, there, there isn’t an option. Besides that. I don’t even know how you have internet connection. But thank goodness you do because there would be nobody to help in person. So that’s been a really cool aspect of it, too.

Jacqueline Kincer 59:20
Oh, yes, very much. So. Yeah, I helped. I forget where they live now. But that basically the nearest town was like three and a half hours away. And the baby had been a preemie was in the hospital for like two months now. It was like five months they were at home and having some struggles with breastfeeding and milk supply and whatnot. And she’s like, Do you know how many times I have driven an entire day back and forth to go to various appointments? She’s like, I just can’t do it anymore. I mean, he’s stable at home. Right, but I need some help with breastfeeding. Oh, my goodness. So happy for the internet. Right, like all of those situations? Yeah. So it’s for many people. It’s the difference between getting care and not getting it. And it can be so intimidating, like you said to, you know, I think one of the things that I always encountered early on, when I started out doing this work, I don’t know if you’ve ever encountered this, especially with home visits, there’s like this thing, you know, we think we should like, you know, we have a stranger in our home, right? And so we should like host them. And, you know, these moms, you know, can get you some water. Are you hungry? Like, am I hungry? I am here to help you with breastfeeding. I cannot believe you’re offering me food. Like, it’s wonderful. I love that. That’s so kind, right? But I’m also like, please do not offer me anything like I am here to serve you. You’re just, you know, it’s your environment, right? Like I’m, I am just here, just like a fly on the wall, almost like do not mind me. I’m just here to do the breastfeeding thing with you. And, you know, it’s that expectation is, thankfully removed the telehealth,

Cait Ahern 1:00:54
which is really nice. Or like apologizing for, you know, not being cleaner or something. And I was like, oh, no, I would be mad if it was spotless. And you did that. If somebody else wants to come in and clean your house for you before your lactation consultant comes? Say Absolutely, yes, my house needs to be cleaned. Please come do that for me for me. No, I don’t. I don’t care that you have, you know, everything all over the countertop, like, what can I move? What can I scoop to the side? So I can, you know, put my scale down? That’s all I need to know. I don’t, you know, but yeah, I mean, with telehealth, I only see what’s right behind you. So your living room could be a disaster. And I would never know.

Jacqueline Kincer 1:01:36
That’s right. It’s like all those influencers, you know, they have the cute little corner with all the like little decor that they got on Amazon. But then if you were going to pay on the camera, it’s like a hot mess of stuff.

Cait Ahern 1:01:48
Well just know, if you book an appointment with me, what you see behind me is my cute little office with all my breastfeeding photos. What is on the wall behind my laptop is just like a smorgasbord of post it notes and reminders to myself, and behind the camera is my true hot mess.

Jacqueline Kincer 1:02:06
Yes. Oh, my gosh, I love it. Well, I just think that you are such a skilled lactation consultant, but it’s beyond just, you know, clinical skills. It’s all of the ways that you have learned and continue to grow. And really, truly understanding everybody that you work with and trying to meet their needs, and just provide them that confidence and support that they need. So I feel so blessed that you’re a part of our team. And for anybody who happens to be in Idaho, especially the Boise area. I’d love for you to just chat a little bit about your own practice and what you do there as well. Because people who are listening probably know the other side of things.

Cait Ahern 1:02:51
Yeah, well, thank you. First of all, that means so much to me, I just adore you. And the the work that we get to do together is so fun. And also Yeah, I have I have learned so much from like I said from you and Gina and I feel very lucky to get to be a part of all of this. Yeah, my my practice here is so Laolu in lactation, and I often work with a dentist who you’ve had on the podcast, Dr. Sync, he is such a wonderful resource for our community. And, you know, I know I get to I get to drive all around the Treasure Valley, as we call it. So we’ve got lots that we know we’ve got Boise, which is the city and then we’ve got lots of little suburbs and farmland around it. So I’ve done lots of home visits out on farms where I have to say hi to the chickens as I walked by and then go help a mama breastfeed. And yeah, we just do that in person work with getting the the simple problems troubleshooted. And then we have the amazing resources that we have for when we do encounter a tongue tie and get to help people through that whole process start to finish.

Jacqueline Kincer 1:04:09
Yeah. Oh, gosh, no, it’s so needed. And yeah, it’s really funny because, you know, I somehow connected with Dr. Zink, we, before I ever knew of you, I don’t even know that might have been right around the time you were actually getting your IBCLC or what have you. And I already knew Melanie, professionally, who you’ve worked with and kind of mentored under. And then when I was seeking other IBCLCs and you applied and I was like wait a second, you know, all these other people like well, you have to be amazing because they’re amazing. And like, just You’re such a gift to your area. And sometimes when people are in small towns, they don’t think that they’ll have access to incredible resources. But yeah, they do in your area, so that’s wonderful.

Cait Ahern 1:04:55
Y’all have to think Melanie Oh yeah, she was the one who she was the one who told like sent Me your posts saying that you were looking to hire IBCLC she was the one who, who sent it to me. So she’s our she’s our reason.

Jacqueline Kincer 1:05:08
She went above and beyond and sent me an email probably right after she did that. Yeah, just singing your praises. So oh my goodness. That’s why you guys Cait is so good if you’re blessed to have Maggie Melanie Hedstrom is also wonderful and just oh my goodness, what a just, I love lactation consultants like her and you because like, it just does so much for the profession to really, to really set the standard and say, This is what really good care looks like, you know that it’s, it’s comprehensive. You know, we believe that ties are real. We don’t inject our personal feelings into things right, and just give that awesome care. So I’m so grateful for you. And I loved our conversation on the podcast today. Because this is like what it’s like, Guys, this is what Cait and I get to do for work. We just get to like, have these conversations. So you got a little sneak peek into that today. And if you ever want to work with Cait, you can book an appointment with her on our website. So thanks for being here.

Cait Ahern 1:06:06
Oh, thank you so much for having me.

In this episode, Jacqueline is joined by fellow IBCLC, Cait Ahern. Together, they discuss topics like ties, mental health, and taking a holistic approach to breastfeeding.

Cait specializes in oral ties, pumping, older babies, and low supply. Cait is also experienced in caring for neurodivergent families and offers accommodations to ensure support for every family’s needs.

This episode gets personal with Jacqueline and Cait sharing their personal breastfeeding struggles and outcomes. They familiarize and normalize telehealth and give some great tips on having a successful online connection with your IBCLC.


In this episode, you’ll hear:

  • How to plan a successful telehealth visit
  • Benefits and importance of making sure mom is taken care of
  • How to keep a mental balance during postpartum
  • What to do if your baby has ties


A glance at this episode:

  • [2:18] How motherhood started out for Cait
  • [6:53] Cait’s priorities with clients and how she makes sure mom is put first
  • [9:29] The importance of taking a holistic approach to breastfeeding
  • [11:57] How do you decide what to do about ties
  • [15:45] How to mentally handle ties
  • [19:34] Translating patient concerns to telehealth
  • [24:17] Jacqueline and Cait share personal nursing stories
  • [30:27] How does neurodivergence play into breastfeeding difficulties
  • [41:53] How to minimize overwhelm during the postpartum time
  • [43:35] Feedback from families Cait has worked with
  • [47:47] Collaboration and care with other providers
  • [55:36] How to plan your telehealth


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