by Elizabeth Chang, Bilingual Spanish/English Certified Lactation Counselor, Nursing Student, Founder and CEO of Pretty Mama Breastfeeding, LLC
Ms. Chang and HealthConnect One have crossed paths many times over the years, most recently during our #DandoPecho campaign. We appreciate the opportunity to share a bit of her breastfeeding journey.
From the very beginning when my husband and I decided to start a family, we started educating ourselves about maternity in the USA and breastfeeding. We were very new to the whole world of having a baby because it was our first time as parents. I always loved breastfeeding but felt a strong, intuitive and powerful desire to know more when I started having conversations about it with my family and with my mom.
My mom told me how she breastfed me, and how she breastfed my siblings. I also remember being around people in Colombia, where I am from, and seeing breastfeeding completely as a “no-brainer.” It is like you are drinking a glass of water. Breastfeeding is that normal. In my family and in my cultural background, that’s what women do. We don’t question it. We just do it because that is what is embedded in our culture. The same was true for my husband’s family, as both he and his siblings were successfully breastfed.
They were ready to support me in any way possible.
I remember being around people in Colombia, where I am from, and seeing breastfeeding completely as a ‘no-brainer.’ It is like you are drinking a glass of water. Breastfeeding is that normal.
When my son was delivered, I had problems with breastfeeding. At the start, my baby wouldn’t latch. I was searching for help and it was not given to me.
We went back to the hospital to see the Lactation Consultant, but she couldn’t pick out what the issue was. She gave me an SNS (a supplemental nursing system), nipple shields that were the wrong size, and told my husband and I that a large number of babies simply do not ever latch. She didn’t explain to me why this was happening.
Not knowing, of course I followed her directions — and that became chaos in my house. Not only was I sore — and he was a big baby, yelling and screaming — How was I supposed to know that he was a tongue tied baby?
That experience was so frustrating and so alarming that it inspired me to get more educated and to help other women.
After a long month and a few days of searching and calling many local and non-local breastfeeding professionals, we finally found someone to help us. And the minute she came, we discovered that my baby boy had a tongue tie. She sent me to an ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat doctor). That ENT cut the frenulum, and that was the end of my problem. He latched on like you wouldn’t believe and the pain I had on my breast for the longest time was gone immediately.
That has been my inspiration — my baby, my situation, and seeing that it happens every second across the country.
Feeding my child out of my breast felt like I was in heaven. Breastfeeding allowed us to build a very strong emotional and physical bond. There are simply no words to describe it.
While I was breastfeeding my boy, when he was about 3 or 4 months old, I opened my living room for a breastfeeding support group. As soon as I got my title as a Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC), I was able to host the first bilingual Spanish support group in this area. I hosted the support group for free for more than a year, and then I decided to launch my website to start my business.
Now I am a bilingual Spanish/English Certified Lactation Counselor studying to obtain my credentials as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), and I have my own business, Pretty Mama Breastfeeding, LLC. I am currently doing an internship at one of the largest university hospitals in the state of New Jersey. I am also a nursing student. This is my second career, as I have a Bachelor of Science in Communication and Technology and I worked in the corporate world for some time.
I am a wife and mother to a four year old boy who easily weaned at 34 months. We speak 3 languages at my house: Mandarin, English and Spanish. My family is quite unique and I work for a unique set of people, as well.
I am constantly promoting the importance of breastfeeding and why it matters.
I serve NYC, New Jersey, and then Northeast of Pennsylvania, so I do travel a lot. I also do international counseling on Skype with moms who are from Central America or South America, and I am in the process of creating counseling services for Chinese women that are fluent in English.
The most common questions I hear are about moms returning to work and needing assistance with pumping.
There are a few myths I have encountered, as well, working with women from a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds.
These myths include:
- Colostrum is not as effective as the second milk.
- I have to pump right away to get milk.
- I can’t drink anything very cold.
- I can only drink hot things and eat things that are really salty and sugary to give me energy.
- I should not take a shower or get my head wet after having my baby.
Education and giving correct information are so important!
I am really passionate. I go with what is in my heart and I am educating myself non-stop!
I see breastfeeding as a right that has been stolen and sabotaged over and over again. I am making a lifelong lasting difference in the health and emotional well being of both mothers and babies. And to be able to do this makes my heart happy.
Elizabeth Chang, CLC, offers a variety of services through Pretty Mama Breastfeeding, LLC, including in-home counseling, and phone or online video counseling via Skype. If mom wants resources in Spanish or in Chinese, Ms. Chang connects her with someone who speaks her language. She says there are many times where moms can find the information online, but they don’t trust everything online and they’d prefer to speak with someone who is in the breastfeeding world and who can be trusted. Ms. Chang is working towards her BSN certification and studying to obtain her IBCLC.
In closing, she says:
“My heart and soul are in this! This is my inspiration.”