Amy is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), mother of two, and wife of a professional fire fighter/paramedic serving families in and around Orlando, FL. Amy is passionate about helping moms reach their personal breastfeeding goals and has spent thousands of hours counseling new mothers struggling with breastfeeding. Amy has a unique ability to relate to moms of all different backgrounds and use her own personal experiences combined with specialized training to personalize her advice for the mothers she works with. Amy does not believe in a one-size-fits-all approach to breastfeeding support and knows that different moms have different goals for their breastfeeding journey. She also recognizes that moms require individualized assistance that takes into account their medical history, age of the baby, and prior experiences with breastfeeding, if any.
Amy earned her certification as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) from the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners in 2017. Prior to earning her certification as a Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC) from The Academy of Lactation Policy and Practice – Healthy Children’s Center for Breastfeeding in 2015, Amy spent 3 years as a breastfeeding Peer Counselor. Amy has been instrumental in forming and administering the world’s largest and most respected online peer-to-peer breastfeeding support group (Dairy Queens Breastfeeding Support) – having helped more than 40,000 women in their breastfeeding journey since forming the group in 2012. Amy is a proud member of the International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA), United States Lactation Consultant Association (USLCA), and the Florida Lactation Consultant Association (FLCA). Amy has also served as a volunteer and milk donor for Orlando’s own informal milk bank – GetPumped! Additionally, Amy is a professional Pediatric Sleep Consultant with expertise in infant and toddler sleep. Amy and her husband were both born and raised in Apopka, FL. Amy is a graduate of Rollins College in Winter Park, FL.
Here is her personal breastfeeding story:
Amy’s passion for breastfeeding began while preparing for the birth of her first child. As a first-time mom, Amy wanted to provide her new baby with the absolute best start in life and knew that breastfeeding was an important component of life with a newborn. So, she quickly found herself surrounded by a pile of books on the ‘Art of Breastfeeding.’ What she didn’t know was that no book can really prepare you for your first days as a nursing mother!
Amy faced many struggles with breastfeeding her baby and found herself questioning whether she would be able to breastfeed at all. For something so “natural,” it sure didn’t come naturally to her. Within days of delivery, Amy was experiencing excruciating pain while nursing and had cracked, bleeding nipples. Breastfeeding was torture and just thinking about the next time she needed to nurse brought about feelings of fear and unstoppable tears. Breastfeeding was so much harder than the books had made it out to be! Surely, breastfeeding was not supposed to hurt this much.
Despite toe-curling pain, Amy continued to nurse around-the-clock and reached for many tools marketed to help new mothers get off to a better start with breastfeeding. She tried nipple shields, breast shells, lanolin, and soothie gel pads to ease the discomfort and heal the trauma a poor latch had caused. Little did she know, these tools were acting more as “bandaids” and did not solve the root problem. What she really needed was help with getting a proper latch – something many new moms struggle with.
Over the course of the first month, Amy and her new baby were able to improve the latch and begin healing the trauma to her nipples. Finally, breastfeeding was going well, and she felt more confident in her ability to provide adequate nutrition to her growing baby.
Soon, Amy returned to work and found herself struggling to balance family life and her career. Pumping was inconvenient and uncomfortable, but she knew it was critical to stimulate her breasts while away from her baby in order to maintain her milk supply. Frequent pumping brought about new problems. Now, Amy began experiencing frequent clogged ducts and even painful milk blisters/blebs. Now more confident and with newfound determination, Amy pressed on and worked to resolve these problems linked to oversupply.
Before long, Amy had reached her first breastfeeding goal – 6 months of exclusively breastfeeding! By this point, breastfeeding was second nature to her, and her baby and she took great pride in reaching the goals she had set for herself!
Around this time, Amy learned about milk sharing and became interested in sharing the benefits of breast milk with other families in need. Amy became a milk donor and began donating her surplus milk to needy families in and around Central FL through Get PUMPed!, a local non-profit milk bank.
But, just a couple months later, her baby began biting while nursing. Ouch! Even worse, biting led to perhaps the most challenging breastfeeding problem a nursing mother can face – a nursing strike! Suddenly, her baby absolutely refused to nurse. Anytime she would bring him to the breast to nurse, he would arch his back, cry, and push away. Her breastfeeding relationship had come to a dramatic “end” and this left Amy with feelings of extreme sadness and guilt. During the 16-day strike, Amy consulted with several healthcare professionals including her child’s pediatrician, a nurse practitioner, four lactation consultants (IBCLCs), and multiple La Leche League Leaders. Amy was determined to restore her breastfeeding relationship with her baby. However, as Amy learned, very few people, even professionals in lactation, were able to offer her much assistance with getting through the strike; some even insisted her baby had self-weaned and was simply done breastfeeding. This idea was not something Amy accepted. Amy knew in her heart that her baby was experiencing just as much sadness as she was over their breastfeeding struggles and that he was not in fact ready to stop nursing. For weeks, Amy searched the internet and consulted books looking for any information she could find about nursing strikes. What she learned was that babies very rarely self-wean before 18 months, and when they do, it is a very gradual process. This was not self-weaning! So, she pressed on and continued working to reestablish breastfeeding. Finally, her efforts paid off and she and her baby were ‘back to breast!’
The nursing couple continued on for another year, nursing on-demand and enjoying the intimate moments found only in breastfeeding.
At 18 months, Amy’s son was diagnosed with a posterior tongue and lip tie. This diagnosis uncovered the main reason Amy faced so many breastfeeding challenges nursing her son.
Later, Amy became pregnant with her second child, a girl, and she weighed her options for weaning her older child or continuing nursing throughout her pregnancy in hopes of tandem nursing. Ultimately, her son decided he was ready to wean.
When Amy welcomed her second child, she hoped her experience and knowledge about breastfeeding would help her get off to a better start than she had experienced the first time around. To her delight, breastfeeding was effortless with her new baby and they got off to a terrific start!
But, just a week after delivery, Amy’s new baby was diagnosed with jaundice and her doctors warned her that supplementation might be necessary. Things didn’t improve, but doctors gave Amy the “go ahead” to supplement with her own expressed milk rather than infant formula. Ultimately, the diagnoses progressed to ‘breast milk jaundice.’ Thankfully, the best remedy for breast milk jaundice is MORE NURSING!
As the months passed, Amy and her new baby’s breastfeeding relationship continued to grow and strengthen. Everything was going well! But, before too long, Amy developed mastitis (a painful breast infection) and found herself very ill. Again, increased nursing paved the way to a full recovery!
Amy and her daughter continued to have a very enjoyable breastfeeding relationship; Amy chose to allow her daughter to self-wean which she did at 2 and a half! To-date, Amy has donated more than 10,000 ounces of breast milk to families in need. Amy’s personal experiences with breastfeeding, milk donation, clogged ducts, milk blisters, nursing strikes, tongue and lip ties, nursing through pregnancy, extended nursing, breast milk jaundice, oversupply, and mastitis have given her a unique perspective to help other mothers in similar situations. In her years as a lactation professional and peer counselor Amy has developed a strong understanding of nursing strikes and has worked closely with hundreds of mothers struggling with breast refusal. Today, nursing strikes are Amy’s core competency and the area of breastfeeding Amy has spent the most time researching and helping other mothers with. It is her vision to become the leading expert on nursing strikes and breast refusal in the lactation profession.