I am the second of 5 children born in the late 60s in Burnie, Tasmania. My child health book tells the story of partial breastfeeding for a few months. I think it was my young aunt – a midwife – happily breastfeeding her 3 children when I was a young teenager that not only influenced my decision to become a nurse, but also to see breastfeeding as the way babies were fed.
Leap forward 10 years and I became a midwife in 1989 studying at Queen Victoria Hospital in Launceston Tasmania. I had every intention of leaving this little island…then I met this man… we now have two children of our own, breastfed for 2 ½ years or so each. They both recently graduated from university as a pharmacist and dietitian respectively, so I guess the breastfed boost to intelligence may have helped a bit. Over the years we thought about living in England (my father in law was English), or moving to Adelaide to improve the girl’s chances – I have lots of family there…but we stayed. Now both girls are living and working in Victoria…one day we may leave this little island.
Just as I was finishing my hospital midwifery training the Career Structure push was on to get your uni degree, so I spent several years and had babies while completing my Bachelor of Nursing. Have recently gone back and done my Grad Dip (Child Health) and Masters of Clinical Midwifery as well. All without a HECS bill thanks to working for DHHS and getting scholarships. As part of the masters I researched and wrote a protocol for the use of Known Donor Human Milk at Launceston General.
My passion for breastfeeding probably kicked in when I started on the journey of feeding my own babies, became a NMAA counsellor, moved up through the ranks to ABA branch president and successfully convened the ABA International Conference in Hobart in 2005. I imagine some of the Tasmanian ABA counsellors may still remember some of the theatrical skits like a rendition of Tina Turners ‘Simply the Breast’ complete with leather jacket, that gave me a chance to tap into my joy of the dramatic. I have spoken at a few other ABA and CAPEA (Childbirth And Parenting Educators of Australia) conferences, and convened the CAPEA national conference in Hobart in 2014.
I became an IBCLC in 1996, and resat via computer in Melbourne last year – an interesting experience sitting in a very small room with computers in study corrals and a noisy class going on in the room behind… but somehow I manage to improve my percentage each time, so the conditions were not too arduous. I started a private practice in 2004 as a Lactation Consultant, and started running private childbirth and parenting classes in 2005 as well, having educated for CEA since 1995. In October this year I will finish running birth and parenting classes as numbers are reducing and PI insurance is increasing. I worked in maternity at the LGH, and then in a private postnatal unit from 1989 to 2005, then had a complete break for 3 years and ran a video shop – best thing I ever did for my mental health… I started as an LC back at LGH after that, initially to run an outpatient clinic and have been there ever since, now working across all areas of hospital lactation, LGH has been BFHI accredited for over 10 years. My private LC practice gives me the luxury of seeing older babies and the opportunity to listen and learn from the many mums along the way. I have recently been helping to set up and coordinate a new private postnatal (hotel or home) service for St. Lukes Health insurance company.
Along the way I have been involved at state and national level with CAPEA, ACM, BFHI, ABA, TLC and LCANZ, and I appear on the BFHI promo DVD (channelling my love of drama once again!). Hopefully I will see some of you in Sydney in October for the LCANZ seminar and AGM – the program looks really good. Oh and in my spare time I love to sew, knit, cook then go to the gym to balance, attend UTas Film Society, drive my Porsche Boxster, fair weather sail with my husband and get away in our caravan (did 3 months long service in 2015 on the Mainland aka Australia).