Editor’s Note: We are THRILLED to have Theresa Hardy, one of the area’s most well-respected lactation consultants, as a sponsor on chambanamoms.com. We wish Theresa the best of luck in her new venture, Nurtured Beginnings, and thank her for her service helping breastfeeding moms in our community.
Theresa Hardy is a pediatric nurse practitioner and Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant with over 20 years experience in complex breastfeeding challenges. Hardy has always believed that the home is the best place to provide lactation support, and she recently launched home lactation consults for the Central Illinois area. The mother of three girls, Theresa can often be found cheering them on at their sporting events and also enjoys perennial gardening, photography, and travel. You can reach Theresa Hardy online or via phone at 217-552-1101.
See why we think Theresa Hardy is a Chambana mompreneur to know.
You worked in the clinic setting for many years. How does it feel to go out on your own now?
I never considered myself “entrepreneur material”, and am finding this role simultaneously exhilarating and terrifying! I truly enjoyed the opportunity to develop the role of newborn nurse practitioner/lactation consultant, in large part because of its holistic approach in integrating medical care and breast-feeding support.
When that role ended, I realized that it presented an opportunity to provide holistic breast-feeding support directly in mom and babies home environment without the time constraints that a clinic-based practice presented. Instead of trying to compress a review of mom’s medical history, the infant’s medical and breast-feeding history, assessment, interventions, and developing a plan of care into a 30-minute time slot, now we work on “baby time”.
This increased flexibility allows the scheduling of a visit at a time that works best for both baby and mother. It feels wonderful to never again have to end an appointment where the baby never awakened to feed. Instead, I can work with the mom on breast-feeding education and support while we wait for the baby to be ready to feed. It feels wonderful to be able to intervene immediately when I arrive at a home and baby is hungry. Needless to say, frantically hungry babies are stressed, and so are their moms! The beauty of private practice, means that if the baby needs to be seen urgently, I can almost always accommodate that.
As a working mom, I have always had a special place in my heart for moms returning to employment. The challenges of returning to work and continuing breast-feeding are significant and it’s wonderful to be able to offer them the opportunity of an evening and weekend appointment and support and preparation for returning to work while continuing to breastfeed their baby.
How do your services differ from other lactation help in the area?
The primary differences in my practice are the provision of care in a home environment by a lactation consultant that is also an advanced practice nurse. This allows a tremendous flexibility in the provision of care as well as the ability to diagnose and treat. Only an estimated 3% of lactation consultants are also advanced practice providers.
Breastfeeding is such a robust activity that when an infant struggles, there are often physical factors driving that struggle. Whether a baby arrives early, has a difficult birth, tongue tie, has gastroesophageal reflux, or is very sleepy, the result may be that the baby cannot empty mom’s breast well. Very quickly, mom’s milk supply is impacted, and then the infant is frustrated with low supply.
Conversely, if mom has a previously unidentified low milk supply, the baby can be quite frustrated and latch difficulties and feeding problems results. An entire cascade of events starting with these factors can lead to early weaning. I can manage easily resolvable breast-feeding issues but also complex breastfeeding challenges. In this role, I do a lot of ”deconstructing” to determine the circumstances that led to breast-feeding challenges. I also have the expertise and clinical background to help mom and baby work toward resolution of those challenges. After every visit, the baby’s health care provider receives a progress note detailing identified concerns and the plan of care.
What are the reasons a breastfeeding mom might call you?
I receive calls from experienced moms just needing a refresher to more complex reasons including:
- a preterm baby who is not yet able to directly breast-feed, but mom wants to build and maintain a good milk supply and set the stage for an effective latch.
- a “near term” baby — tricky little people who tend to look fully mature, but can have significant breast-feeding difficulties.
- a multiple birth and mom wants to establish milk supply for the babies or learn how to directly breast-feed them, while having their growth monitored closely.
- the adoption of a baby and the adoptive mom would like to attempt induced lactation or use a supplemental nurser system to feed her baby at the breast.
- an infant with medical problems including gastroesophageal reflux, tongue tie, cow’s milk protein intolerance, requiring an integrative approach.
- previous attempts at breastfeeding, but is still struggling with unresolved issues including a bad experience with breastfeeding her first child and would like to set the stage for success with her second.
- low milk supply and is worried about insufficient glandular tissue. This may be her fourth baby and he is really throwing her curveballs.
What can your clients expect at a consultation?
They can expect timely, reasonably-priced, compassionate, expert breastfeeding help. Additionally,
they can expect that a time will be set up conveniently for the in-home appointment that works well for both mom and baby.
they can expect an in-depth review of their breast-feeding experience thus far as well as time to review any concerns they have about breast-feeding. The visits aren’t short, or rushed. Moms can count on 1.5 to 2 hours for the initial visit to allow for review of medical and breast-feeding history, infant assessment, latch assessment, pre-and post feeding infant weight, interventions, having a care plan developed, written and left with them that day.
they can expect a consult note to be faxed to their healthcare provider, usually the day of the visit.
they understand I will be available for phone follow-up, and follow-up visits as needed.
until I am an “in- network” provider for insurance companies, they will be given an insurance “superbill” with all needed diagnosis codes for maximal insurance reimbursement.
What advice do you have for a new mom who is planning to nurse her baby?
Definitely, take a breastfeeding class before delivery. Breastfeeding is a wonderfully natural thing to do, but learning how can only help. Classes are offered at Presence and Carle hospitals, and the CUPHD. I teach a free breastfeeding class at Christie Clinic every month. In class, I emphasize that breast-feeding is “all about the latch” and that beyond that initial “woo-ha, baby’s on”, breast-feeding should not be painful. If it is painful, the latch can be adjusted, or a different positioning technique might be utilized, or both.
I encourage moms to breast-feed right in the delivery room. Keep the baby in skin-to-skin contact, and an alert infant will often find his way to the breast. I always remind moms that breast-feeding operates on supply and demand. The more frequently and effectively your breasts are emptied, the more milk will be available for the baby, and initially that means a lot of feedings.
Keep the baby with you whenever possible while in the hospital. Breast-feeding is time intensive at the beginning, but so is parenting a newborn. It definitely gets easier, and faster. It takes about half the time for a six-week-old to complete a feeding as it does a newborn. There comes a time when you realize that you have stopped worrying about feeding frequency and length and technique, and you are mothering your infant in a wonderfully nurturing way. When they grin up at you with a milky mouth, it’s priceless.
Lastly, I encourage moms to find their support system. There are wonderful peer counselors at the CUPHD, where they coordinate a Friday morning breastfeeding moms group. Jodi Fan and the La Leche League have regular meetings. Ashley Murauskus Price of Champaign’s Breastfeeding USA has an active Facebook group, as do the Presence lactation consultants.
It might be a little early to ask this, but what are your future goals for Nurtured Beginnings?
I am working on adding two additional classes, “Breastfeeding and Returning to Work”, and “Breastfeeding the Second Baby When It Didn’t Go Well with the First”. I am also working toward offering half hour appointments on Wonderful Weight Check Wednesday’s in my office, where moms can get help fine-tuning breastfeeding and check their infants weight progress.
I am also interested in providing corporate lactation support services, to provide support for breastfeeding moms who have returned to employment. By January 2014, I hope to be a Medela distributor for hospital grade breast pump rentals.