Believe it or not this is our birthday month! Happy, happy birthday to Sweet Songs Breastfeeding! We have spent the month of July celebrating as we look back on a stupendous year. We saw more than 200 families over the course of more than 300 consultations. Through our Lactation Fund, we provided quarterly lactation support to the women and families of The Alpha House. And through your donations from our support groups we provided numerous baby items to our sisters in need. We participated in rewarding and interesting interviews through the Working Birth Podcast. I wrote several articles for MilkonTap and one for Galactablog. In the Spring of 2016 I was also honored when the United States Lactation Consultant Association (USLCA) approached me with the opportunity to present a webinar. As of July 2016, I officially accepted USLCA's invitation to join their Committee on Professional Development. I look forward to assisting coordinate new educational experiences for the lactation field, and to the professional connections I expect to leverage for increased support to Sweet Songs Breastfeeding clientele. While we are proud of these accomplishments, what we want to emphasize is that we most certainly would not have seen the success that we have, if it weren’t for you, the families of Tampa Bay. We are grateful for and excited by the chance to join and support you during your motherhood and fatherhood journeys. We have learned so much from being allowed into your homes and into your lives as you navigate your breastfeeding journey. So, thank you Tampa Bay for choosing us! Here’s to many, many more years of community breastfeeding success.
A Look Back
Late in 2014 I began considering the hows and whys of creating a professional lactation consulting business providing clinical breastfeeding support to the families of Tampa Bay. My oldest was in school full time and my little nursling had finally begun to sleep more at night. With several years in the lactation field and the IBCLC credentials under my belt, (and a lot of support from my wonderful husband!) I launched Sweet Songs Breastfeeding in July 2015.
Since then, we’ve grown in staff and in services offered. We’ve transitioned between office spaces and expanded our service area. Trish Hanning, my colleague and friend, joined the practice in its early days. Additionally, we’ve gained an eager and capable intern with near term plans to add a second. In February 2016 we expanded our services to include hospital-grade Medela Symphony breast pump rentals. We were thrilled when we began offering lactation consults with no up-front costs to families with Aetna and Coventry insurance. And though there is some more work to be done, Tricare has certified Sweet Songs Breastfeeding. We are so honored to make strides toward better serving our military families in Tampa Bay. This has been an amazing year and we can’t wait for what’s ahead.
Along the way, we have learned some very important lessons which have led us to some interesting discussion on how best to move forward and improve. We are excited to move ahead into our second year, better equipped to serve you.
Yes, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandates lactation coverage, BUT, getting insurance companies to follow this is something else entirely. We are working to get coverage for more insurance providers, but this process is slow. We are also working to streamline our process to better support you when seeking reimbursement from your provider. Hang tight and stay tuned! (***See the next paragraph for a way you, your family and friends, and your coworkers can help).
This year we saw Georgia become the second state (Rhode Island was the first) to pass legislation granting licensure for IBCLCs. This is HUGE. Remember what I said about insurance coverage? As recognized licensed lactation professionals, IBCLCs like us can provide the support that is mandated by the ACA. Better coverage plus better breastfeeding rates equals happier healthier families. Additionally, this will increase our visibility among other healthcare providers which means your pediatrician or obstetrician will know where they can refer you when you have a breastfeeding concern. Please consider signing and sharing our petition so we can move forward with the licensure process.
Home vs. Office Visits
Our mission is to provide clinical lactation support to all breastfeeding families. We want to help as many families as possible in the most well-equipped and comfortable setting. To this end, we have found that office visits provide us the opportunity to serve more families in less time. Travel time and costs make us believe home visits need to be the exception not the norm. We will continue to offer home visits, but will primarily see families in our office. We hope our extended availability in office will provide the best opportunity to serve you. We welcome critical input from you, our past clients and potential future clients alike, for consideration during any reformatting of fees and services.
Services and fees transparency is important to us. We know how frustrating it is to be surprised by hidden fees or to be unsure about what is included in costs. We strive to provide a care plan that works for you. We stand behind our care plans and will work with you two weeks after the consult to make sure all is well. We also want to be clear about our credentials and scope of practice. We regularly hear questions regarding differences among the various lactation/breastfeeding support specialists and professionals. Personally, I followed a pathway to IBCLC that included significant time as a volunteer peer mentor, a Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC), a Breastfeeding Peer Counselor for Florida Department of Health, an Advanced Lactation Consultant (ALC), and finally as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). My experiences along this pathway allowed me to see the substantial support that can be provided at the varying levels of lactation/breastfeeding education and training. Support can come in many forms, from mother-to-daughter, peer-to-peer, to clinical support that relies on evidence-based assessments and plans of care provided by IBCLCs. IBCLCs are considered the gold standard in lactation care. First and foremost we want you to seek and find the appropriate level of support needed for you to reach your goals. A close second and secondmost is that we want you to feel confident that Sweet Songs Breastfeeding scope of practice provides care and support across all levels - we are here (or there) for you and believe a collaborative approach is the most successful.
Our Future Ahead
Sweet Songs Breastfeeding is here to stay and we want your input in how best to continue serving the community. We love our role as your Tampa Bay lactation consultants. Looking ahead, we see an expansion in personnel and in our office spaces. We are looking to increase internships so the lactation field can continue to grow. To better serve you we see an increase in available pump rentals, as well as the introduction of infant scale rentals.
Perhaps most exciting of all, we are working through our Lactation Fund to support a Sweet Songs Breastfeeding volunteer to work with Nurture Project International which is providing lactation support to Syrian refugees located in Greece. We strive for "the best" and though in some ways the best is yet to come, we are humbled for having been afforded opportunities to do our best for you. We hope you stick around and continue to grow our breastfeeding community.