I don’t remember a time when it was a conscious decision to become a Nurse, it was more something that I always knew I’d become. I was always baby crazy as a child. I was that kid at a BBQ begging for a cuddle, or helping out with the toddlers. When I was 12 my paediatrician took me to see the NICU and that was me done hook line and sinker, I was on the path to becoming a NICU Nurse. I always had an inherent want to help people.
I grew up in the Territory and completed my undergraduate degree at Northern Territory University, plus a grad year at Royal Darwin Hospital. Nursing (and growing up) in Darwin was challenging and exciting and I’ve never really experienced the gamut of illness that you see in the tropics again.
After I completed my nursing studies I left Darwin, and worked my way around the globe. I have worked and lived in many different countries and started to see the differences in support systems that were available to families when they were having a baby. Support around breastfeeding and breastfeeding education varied immensely and my spark to become a Lactation Consultant was ignited.
While I was working and living in the UK I met my husband. My husband and I eventually settled in Melbourne. I was working at RCH in NICU when we started our own family, welcoming a healthy little girl into the world. A little boy soon followed and our small Kensington town house was bursting at the seams! Being the nomads that we were we had a sudden urge to have a seachange and sold our townhouse and moved to Noosa. I was fortunate enough to start work in Nambour as a Clinical Nurse Educator. We lived in Noosa for two years and loved the lifestyle but we actually longed to be back in the hustle and bustle of city life (crazy I know!)
We moved back to Melbourne and for the next three years I worked at the Royal Women’s hospital as one of the Clinical Nurse Educators and Clinical Facilitators and am still employed there on a casual basis.
Working at The Womens Hospital encouraged me to think outside the square with care of the family and helped me to understand that breastfeeding is one of the most important things we can do for our vulnerable population. I was encouraged to pursue my goal of becoming an International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant.
It was during this time that baby number three arrived and I took the plunge to achieve my goals. Becoming an IBCLC® is probably one of my most proud achievements. Proud because studying with three small children is no easy task and because it is such worthwhile work. I have always seen a gap in the education and support for breastfeeding mothers and now I am part of the change to help.
There is a lot of misinformation in the community, largely because of the clever marketing of formula, and women have been disempowered. Our culture has a tendency to make new mothers doubt themselves, stopping them from listening to their own intuition and thus stripping them of their own confidence. Never before have women been more isolated and the village that once existed is now limited.
Here’s something a lot of people do not know about me. When I was 14, I was chosen by the NT Government to go on a student exchange to Indonesia. I ended up on a tiny island in the middle of nowhere called Tidore, it isn’t even on most maps! I had no contact with the outside world for the time I was there, there was no internet back then! When I look back on that now I think it was a particularly brave thing to do at that age. I can speak Indonesian but am rusty these days!”
Kristy Newnham, mother of three kids, local resident of Yarraville, local business owner of Milc Melbourne Lactation Consultants (https://www.milcmelbourne.com.au) (https://www.facebook.com/milckristynewnham/)