Leah & Adalyn
I’d highly recommend Tennessee Valley Lactation Services and Sarah Willis!!
I felt prepared for breastfeeding and did a lot of reading and research before the birth of my first child! But after my daughter was born, I had trouble with her latching from the very beginning. The hospital staff tried to help, and I was not a fan of how they were trying to get her to latch because it seemed aggressive and not what I read about. I wanted so badly to breastfeed my baby but it hurt so bad when she latched -- like toe curling, back arching, teeth clenching pain. My nipples we’re getting blisters, and it hurt to wear anything over them.
Sarah first came over to my house when my baby was 1 week old. That was such a relief to not have to go anywhere. She tried to help me get her to latch and talked with me. She was so calm, reassuring, and listened to every complaint patiently without interrupting. I felt like I would never be able to breastfeed if this was how it was going to be, but she reassured me that it can get better if I’m persistent. She recommended we get her checked for a lip and tongue tie but was not pushy at all and ultimately left the decision up to us. We ended up getting that revised at 2 weeks old.
In the meantime, I pumped and bottle fed breastmilk to her for about a month while she recovered. Sarah even helped me find a better bottle nipple than the one we were using. When I tried to get her to try the breast again, she refused. I was devastated, but Sarah was always optimistic and ready to work through my problems. She recommended we try a nipple shield to help with the transition. I was hesitant but gave it a shot. She was doing well on that for about a month, and I felt NO pain! We were getting there! I was determined to get back to just the breast though so worked with her in figuring out how to transition her off that. Not too long after, she was back on just the breast and breastfeeding with NO pain. NO PAIN! I just couldn’t believe it.
I credit it all to Sarah and her expertise! She has helped me understand so much more about breastfeeding, pumping, the benefits of breastmilk -- all while also supporting my decisions and not pushing me to do or not do anything I didn’t want to do! The breastfeeding support groups are a great size. You will be heard and can also hear and relate to others. She will always be an invaluable resource to me for future babies, and I’ve recommended all my friends with little babies to her as well!
Leah (and Adalyn) Bush
Ashley & Carson
My journey started off with a lot of tears. My baby wasn't gaining weight, and his doctor told me to just feed him formula and said that it would be easier for me. I felt that he didn't care as long as his charting looked ok. I had successfully nursed my oldest, and I couldn't figure out what was wrong this time.
In tears on a Sunday (dreading that next doctor's appointment), I called my insurance company. To my surprise, I could hire a lactation consultant! They helped me find Sarah Willis! She came to my home and -- within minutes -- decided my son had a lip and tongue tie. She was very helpful giving me information and suggesting a Facebook support group so that I could talk to other moms who where in the same boat. We came up with a plan so that I could reach my goals! (She heard me.) It took getting his lip and tongue ties fixed.
I learned so much that I was never taught with my first! She helped me get a pumping and feeding schedule to get my son back up to his birth weight. It was a long several weeks, but we finally did it! I would highly recommend this team. We have successfully nursed 19 months, and we are still going strong! I am so happy that I have this wonderful team in my corner!!
Coming Soon! Please check back later...
May 17th, 2022
Today I want to discuss the challenges that parents are facing with being able to meet their infant feeding goals. Insurance companies have been refusing to cover lactation consultants, even though the Affordable Care Act requires all non-grandfathered insurance plans to cover breastfeeding counseling and supplies at 100%. As a practice who has been working on becoming credentialed with these insurance companies, I have come to realize that there is a huge disparity in the postpartum realm. And now we have a formula shortage!
Breastfeeding is not a sustainable option for every parent, and I recognize this. However, with breastfeeding initiation rates being above 80%, it’s clear that most parents intend to breastfeed. When they’re met with challenges, these parents have limited options for lactation support. When insurance is refusing to cover the services, a lactation consultant seems an inaccessible and unaffordable expense. Then, we see the exclusive breastfeeding rates drop — and hence the need for formula. Now with the threat of formula being scarce, parents who were unable to meet their breastfeeding goals are fearful that they may run out of options to feed their babies. If these parents had been supported in the beginning, perhaps the need for formula would have been reduced if not eliminated. Even combination feeding would reserve formula tremendously.
I imagine that if healthcare prioritized lactation support a little more, the dependence on formula could be reduced and the country might be a little better off. This is a women's rights issue and a family health issue. I'll share more in the future on ways that parents can help address this disparity and address their insurance companies to change their stance on covering lactation support.
Sarah P. Willis, BSN, RN, IBCLC
Tennessee Valley Lactation Support is excited to announce that WE ARE GROWING! While Sarah Willis still provides the same (and more) services as before, North Alabama needs more than the support of just one person. With the vision to provide accessible and affordable lactation and infant feeding support for all, Sarah is teaming up with Karin Treski, who will be taking on an administrative role in the company. Karin has been an invaluable member, helping to expand the current practice into a sustainable and thriving production.
We have also contracted a team of experts to collectively provide education and assistance to the families in this community. There will be a more formal announcement in the near future, but -- in the meantime -- Let's introduce our new team members:
Katie Parkes, RN, IBCLC, with Milk & Honey Holistic Breastfeeding Services (M&H), is joining our network as a Registered Nurse and Lactation Consultant, with previous experience in labor-delivery, postpartum, and lactation services. With Kim Evans, their private practice has been providing breastfeeding services to the community since 2018.
Kim Evans, RN, IBCLC -- also affiliated with M&H -- is coming to us with over 20 years of experience working as a hospital nurse in neonatal intensive care and as a lactation consultant. Four years ago, she and Katie began working in private practice and helping families with feeding their babies.
Mariah Alyce, CLC, has been serving families as a birth worker, offering doula support and lactation counseling. She is working privately in these roles, and we are so excited for her to join our team of lactation professionals. Learn more about Mariah and the other services that she offers outside of TVLS at www.mariahalyce.com.
Ophelia Talley, CLC, @opheliat.iam, has been an uplifting influencer in the community, facilitating support and education for Black Families in the Huntsville community for years. She has been running Mocha Milk Mamas and supporting breastfeeding WOC through support groups and Black Breastfeeding Week events in the area.
These four new members are going to be an excellent addition to our group, and we're so excited to create this network of amazing individuals who are dedicated to helping the families in our community meet their lactation and infant feeding goals. Our vision is coming to life, and we are so excited to share more details about this collaboration in the near future.
Sarah P. Willis, BSN, RN, IBCLC
Owner, Clinical Director
On January 14, 2022, Tennessee Valley Lactation Support, LLC, will be celebrating their Grand Opening with a ribbon cutting with the Madison Chamber of Commerce. Rarely do parents anticipate having infant feeding issues when welcoming a new baby into the family. While breastfeeding may be "natural," it is only about as natural as learning to walk -- and that usually leaves a toddler with a bruise, scrape, and a few shed tears. Sarah P. Willis, registered nurse and lactation consultant, has been helping families in the community through these challenges by providing in-home lactation support for over three years. As of November 1st, 2021, Karin Treski joined the corporation, and together they moved into their office location in Madison, Alabama. Their mission is to provide lactation support for all; making it accessible and affordable for parents to find professional help so that they can meet their feeding goals. With offerings for home, office, and telehealth consultations, Tennessee Valley Lactation Support, LLC, is able to bill clients' medical insurance when possible. Many parents can have the help that they need and deserve at no cost to them. In addition to private consultations, the practice offers breastfeeding/chestfeeding, Tummy Time! Method, and infant sleep classes. They also have a Corporate Lactation Program, providing companies with concierge infant feeding and pumping support for their employees. Free, weekly support groups are hosted at the office as well, for those parents who desire peer support and encouragement. The organization is excited to share about the practice, and they hope that the community will join them in celebrating the opening of their Madison office. For more information about the upcoming event, you may check out the website at www.tnvalleylactationsupport.com or follow their Facebook page.
Tennessee Valley Lactation Support, LLC
Sarah P. Willis, BSN, RN, IBCLC
3809 Sullivan St., Suite #3, Madison, AL 35758
Local Breastfeeding Resources
As I prepare for the birth of my third child, I realize that I will have to take a break from seeing clients in this capacity. As of this moment, I am 39 weeks gestation, and there is no telling when this baby will make its appearance. Up to the point of birthing, I plan to accept and advise clients, but once I go into labor I must let go of the responsibilities and focus on mine and my child's health. I intend to take a short, 2-month maternity leave, and I plan to return to seeing clients with baby as necessary. Be on the lookout for an announcement about an office space -- It's in the works! All this said, I want to make sure that all seeking parents are able to find the lactation support that they need and deserve. I am listing the local lactation resources that I am familiar with from the North AL/Middle TN area. This list may not be completely accurate, as I may have unintentionally left off a resource or two. (Pregnancy brain has affected me greatly!) I look forward to being able to serve the area again in the near future and hope that those of you who are due November and beyond will contact me to schedule something in the future. Have a wonderful season!
Sarah P. Willis, BSN, RN, IBCLC
Your lactation and infant feeding coach and cheerleader
Local Breastfeeding Resources for North Alabama
Alma Adora Lactation, LLC
Home Visits - Contracted with Lactation Network* (A travel fee may apply.)
A Nurturing Moment, Regina Woodley, IBCLC
Office and Home Visits
Appalachian Breastfeeding Network - FREE 24/7 Lactation Hotline
*Answered by Lactation Health Professionals
*No wait time
*IBCLC on call
*Referrals to resources and providers given in your area
Coloring Between The Lines - Mothers Of Color Breastfeeding Support
Breastfeeding Support Group and Outpatient Consultations
Breastfeeding Support Group (Hometown Pediatrics, Athens, AL on ) and Home Visits
Gracefully Latched: Certified Breastfeeding Counselor
Hazel Green, Fayetteville, Meridianville, Breastfeeding Support Group
Huntsville Hospital Lactation Services
Breastfeeding Support Group and Outpatient Consultations
Madison Hospital Lactation Services
Breastfeeding Support Group and Outpatient Consultations
(256) 508-9009 or (256) 457-0403
Milk and Honey Holistic Breastfeeding Services
The Postpartum Clinic, LLC
I’m so excited to announce that I’ve officially partnered with @LactationNetwork! This is an incredible organization that helps moms and moms-to-be get the breastfeeding support they deserve, covered by their insurance.
The Lactation Network guarantees every mother three 90-minute, in-home lactation consultations with a registered IBCLC, like me, at no out of pocket cost. They handle the paperwork and bill your insurance directly.
To learn more and schedule a consultation with me, visit www.lactationnetwork.com and use my name as the IBCLC who referred you.
You have a new baby. You were handed this tiny human, and now a hospital staff member is telling you that she is your night shift nurse. She wants to discuss what your goals for the first night are. "Rest" comes to mind. You are beyond exhausted, and there isn't enough caffeine in the world to help you stay awake any longer. Breastfeeding is something that you have planned for this baby, but your eyes are crossing involuntarily at this point as you try to focus. How will this work?
As a hospital nurse who provides care at night to families during labor, delivery, and after, I have often been found parents in this situation. In most cases, I can pinpoint multiple things that contribute to the exhaustion. In order to have a more smooth transition that first night, it is so important for parents to prepare prior to the infant's arrival. A discussion with all support persons is in order, and everyone should be in agreement. These are a few things that I have found that contribute to a successful breastfeeding experience and happy, well-rested parents:
Placing Skin to Skin. Whenever I hear medical personnel referring to "the golden hour," I cringe a little bit. Skin to skin isn't only beneficial for an hour. Especially during the first day and even until the mature milk supply is established, the infant should be kept skin to skin whenever the parents are awake. This act promotes a smooth transition to the world outside the womb. Not only does this provide comfort to the infant and stabilization of temperature, heart rate, blood sugar, etc., but it allows the parents to bond with a calm, quiet infant. Also, during this time, parents are able to recognize early feeding cues and offer the breast/chest to the infant before crying ensues. I don't know about you, but I know that I become irritable and less cooperative whenever I'm expected to perform while hungry. I imagine infants work the same way. Calm, happy infants will feed much better than ones who are working hard to stabilize in an environment that is uncomfortable to them.
Understanding Breastfeeding. Whether attending a formal class or scheduling a one-on-one counseling session with a lactation consultant, being able to identify typical feeding patterns and signs of effective milk transfer gives the feeding parent confidence and reassurance when there is usually much question and insecurity. This knowledge is beneficial to the lactating parent but also to the partner and the support person. In some cases, there may be more than one lactating parent. Even so, understanding the basics to establishing and maintaining lactation can help reaffirm expectations and roles. With breastfeeding off to a great start, the infant will sleep more soundly between feedings. If the infant sleeps well between feedings, so should the parents.
Setting Boundaries. You and your partner(s) have waited for what seems like forever for this day. While there are many others who are excited to meet your new addition, the first days are so important in the task of establishing breastfeeding. Announce to your friends and family beforehand that you plan to limit visitors. Aside from removing the infant from the parent/feeding opportunities, visitors can overstimulate and contribute to difficulty during feedings. Also, with an influx of visitors, parents tend miss out on valuable rest time during the day and then end up exhausted by the time the visitors have left. Allow friends and family to hold and hug the baby once breastfeeding has been established and the parents are resting well. There will be plenty of time in the near future!
Designating a Support System. For those really difficult nights, choosing another person to offer extra support may be beneficial. In some cultures, the parents' mothers traditionally offer support in the postpartum period. The birthing parent is only expected to feed the child, while these support persons provide all the other care for the infant. With the daily responsibilities taken care of, the parents are able to focus on infant feeding and bonding and rest. If a support system like this is unavailable but the service is desired, consider hiring a postpartum doula.
Learn hand expression. I truly believe that the skill of hand expressing human milk is a lost art! Whether the infant is having difficulty staying awake during a feeding or having difficulty latching, hand expressing the milk into a spoon or cup and offering it to the infant can be helpful and has been proven to promote long-term breastfeeding. Learning hand expression early can also reduce stress in the event that the parent is separated from the child and without an electric pump. With adequate intake, the infant may rest well between feedings and offer the parents more sleep.
Communicate with the hospital staff. Nursing staff are required to complete routine assessments and interventions in an effort to ensure health and safety of the parent and infant. While it's in the interest of the family, there are ways that they can be approached to help promote breastfeeding support of the dyad. Requesting that infant remain in the parents' room for assessments and care is not unreasonable, and neither is asking the staff to cluster care around wake times for the infant. Notify the staff of your infant feeding plans. Like a birth plan, providing the hospital staff with written goals and wishes can be useful for the parents and the nurses.
I have helped many couples in the wee hours of the night with their new little ones, and time after time I come across parents who are teetering on the edge of exhaustion and insanity. With these tips, I truly believe that parental teams can avoid the weariness and get the best start with infant feeding and meeting their goals. You can do it!
My first blog post.
As I am in the beginning stages of developing a lactation consulting business, my biggest dream is that I touch the lives of many individuals and families -- offering them hope and fulfillment. It seems that breastfeeding has been turned into a controversial topic. For those that exclusively breastfed their children, they are considered the successful ones. So what of the parent who was unable to feed their child without supplementation? What of the parent who chose not to breastfeed because of the negative outcomes that had been witnessed in regards to breastfeeding?
The benefits of breastmilk are undeniable, and the list is continuously growing. The terms "microbiome" and "immunity" are circulating all over social media with images of women breastfeeding infants. According to the latest released Breastfeeding Report Card, 81.1% of new mother's initiated breastfeeding in the hospital. We know that breastmilk is best for our children. So what's the problem? Without the right education, families are being discharged from their obstetrical services with insufficient milk supply and/or infants with feeding problems. Latch assessments are being performed by untrained personnel whom the parents rely on for guidance and reassurance. Health care professionals are unknowingly giving information that is harmful to the parent-child dyad, and then they are sent home. Follow-up generally includes recommendations for a supplement that is not human milk, and then this supplement that is not breast milk is considered to be life-saving.
How can I help? Prenatal education (even pre-pregnancy if possible) can help parents understand the physiological mechanisms behind lactation and infant latch/suck so that they are not relying on possibly incorrect teachings when they are in a sleep-deprived shock. Once the child is born, instead of the parent being discharged from services only to follow up weeks later, I am following the dyad closely. General observations of feedings can give me great insight. If there are challenges, referrals are made to be addressed quickly. For the well baby, I can reassure parents of normal feeding patterns so that they may feel more aware of what to expect. For the parent with insufficient supply, I can customize a feeding plan that suits the dyad's needs, including instruction on the introduction of supplementation as needed.
All this to say... Give your child the opportunities that come with human milk, and let me help make it a positive experience for everyone. Feed your baby, but be informed. #informedisbest #dontwriteblogpostsatmidnightoryoumayramble
Sarah P. Willis
The author is a Registered Nurse, Board Certified Lactation Consultant, and mother of three children.