Charlotte Yonge, Breastfeeding consultant
Can you describe yourself in a few words?
My name is Charlotte Yonge. I grew up in Canada. I’m a mum with two boys, aged 17 and 12 and I now live in Paris. Professionally I have several hats. I’m a qualified (IBCLC) breastfeeding consultant, but I’m also an English teacher. I’m currently doing a training course in professional coaching, to broaden my knowledgebase. I love learning, which is one of the reasons I love my breastfeeding consultancy work so much… each mum, each story, each assignment is unique.
What made you want to become a breastfeeding consultant?
I’m unfortunately part of a tiny minority of women who cannot breastfeed exclusively.
It was only with the support I got at the time from La Leche League that I was able to breastfeed at all (even though I couldn’t satisfy 100% of my baby’s needs). The support I got made me want to get trained too, so that I could in turn help other mums. 7 years later, I passed the IBCLC exam.
Tell us about the first time you nursed your baby?
Just after giving birth, the midwife put my baby to my breast. It was magical! But then, back in my room, on my own with the baby, I was totally surprised to feel very strong contractions while I was breastfeeding! Nobody warned me that this could happen at the beginning! Thankfully it doesn’t last long!
You’ve been very involved with young mums for a number of years now, particularly through your organisation. Any encounters you found particularly rewarding or touching?
So many memories and encounters with mums over the years. Each of their stories touched me in some way, and helped me grow. I remember one mum in particular though. She had had breast cancer but she managed to bring on her milk for her adopted baby, with the single breast she had left. What a victory that was for her!
What would be your main advice for mums who are getting ready to breastfeed? Any advice in particular for young mums who have perhaps had difficulties in the past, but want to try again?
The best preparation is knowledge, finding out for yourself, making an informed choice, a real choice, your own choice. I would recommend young mums to go to La Leche League meetings before they give birth, so they can prepare as well as possible for the birth and for breastfeeding. Also, read “ The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding”!
In your opinion, when should someone get in touch with a breastfeeding consultant?
As soon as breastfeeding isn’t going smoothly and the mum can’t find her own solutions either through what she has read, or via La Leche League. However the discussions and encounters with other mums through La Leche League are still very important, for the support they provide.
As a baby-carrying instructor, what advice would you give for carrying children comfortably and over time?
Mums really need to think about protecting their backs when they are carrying. If they’re using a wrap, the knot has to support the lower back properly, and needs to enable the mum to feed her baby without having to shift its weight. The baby should be well covered in the wrap, in the frog position, with knees raised.
When the baby hits 7 kilos, I advise not to use wraps that contain elastin, because they don’t provide sufficient support for the baby. If the mum isn’t too keen on wraps, I can recommend the Mei Tai or Manduca. Slings, or ring slings are great for short spells, but they need to be 100% cotton, or at least elastin-free.
Do you recommend changing diet during breastfeeding, especially with a view to maintaining the milk supply (nursing teas, lactogenic ingredients…)? What ingredients or plants would you recommend?
Mums with a strong let-down reflex (also known as milk ejection reflex, meaning that the milk comes out very quickly) should avoid too many lactogenic ingredients, for example.
Fenugreek is the most lactogenic plant. Some mothers swear by lentils. I once worked with a mum who said fennel had increased her milk supply.
In general, mums don’t really need to change their diet during breastfeeding, but they do need to make sure they’re getting enough of the vitamins D and B, and magnesium.
IBCLC breastfeeding consultant
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