Welcome to Balanced Breastfeeding! I would love to tell you more about myself and how I can best serve you!
A Conversation Katie Madden RN, BSN, IBCLC.
How long have you been doing what you do and how did you become a Balanced Breastfeeding Expert?
I have been working with moms and babies since I graduated from the University of Maryland in 2004. I discovered my knack for “getting babies to latch”early on in my first job when I was working at The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Other nurses would happily trade their patient’s need for help with breastfeeding issues for my client’s need for pain medication. I’d go in, get the baby latched on to the breast lickity split. The mothers would always say to me, “Katie! Now you have to come home with me!” At the time, I was pretty damn full of myself. After all, I was “fixing them”.
It wasn’t until after I gave birth to my own daughter in 2006 that I realized that although I had a knack for latching babies, I was completely missing the point. In fact, most healthcare professionals are still missing the point. It isn’t about me getting a baby to latch onto the breast, it is about empowering a mother to take control of her own breastfeeding journey and it is about how her breastfeeding experience will impact her life long-term.
Let me back up for a moment. Before having Lucy, I had serious body image issues. I didn’t just have low self-esteem; I had body hatred. I dieted, gorged, cut, spoke meanly to and abused my body. I read everything I could get my hands on about body image to try to end my body war, but nothing worked. I simply couldn’t separate my self worth with my self-image.
Then, I got pregnant. I knew deep down in my soul that I wanted two things: to birth without drugs at a birthing center and to breastfeed. It occurred to me that there was no reason why my body should do this for me after the way I had treated it for over a decade. So, I had a come to Jesus with my body. I said “Body. I know I have been nothing but mean and degrading to you. I know I have said things to you that I wouldn’t say to my worst enemy, but I promise, if you give me the birth and breastfeeding experience I want, I will call a truce. I promise to never again speak badly to you or abuse you.”
And so it was. I gave birth to my 8 lb. 14 oz. baby girl, Lucy and I enjoyed an easy breastfeeding relationship for almost three years. To this day, I do not hate on my body. We have lost weight and gained weight together, but we are friends and we always will be because my body taught me that it is not decorative, it is functional and it works perfectly.
So, back to me latching babies…after my life changing experience, I couldn’t just latch babies anymore. I had to give other women the opportunity to experience breastfeeding and the power it has to change them. I had to give the power to them instead of doing it for them.
Along the way, I developed the realization that this transformation isn’t about the breastmilk and sometimes is born from many breastfeeding difficulties, but it is the delicate balance of the breastfeeding journey that allows space for true growth and transformation.
I have made a commitment to dedicate the rest of my professional life to empowering women to breastfeed through my workshops, private coaching, products and home study materials.
I created the Balanced Breastfeeding Method™ as a technique that starts in pregnancy and ends in weaning, because every single stage of breastfeeding is as powerful as the first.
Who do you work with exactly?
I work with women and couples who are dedicated to breastfeeding. They know it is the healthiest choice for themselves and their babies and they are not willing to leave their success or failure to chance.
The women I work with understand that there is no one right way to breastfeed, nor does it need to be done perfectly, but that there are many tools and methods to achieve one’s own personal breastfeeding goals. But it takes hard work. The women I work with are deeply committed to their goals, flexible enough to understand that there are many unpredictable paths to reach that goal and brave enough to dig in and work hard to achieve results.
Oftentimes, but not always, the women I work with tend to have an affinity for perfectionism, anxiety, control and high-achievement. They are used to getting what they want and need in life and they are accustomed to the effort it takes. They are not, however, used to losing control of situations. Becoming a mother is a rude entry into losing control and they acknowledge that they need support, education and coaching to navigate this new territory.
How are you different from other Lactation Consultants?
Well, I call myself a Balanced Breastfeeding Expert for a reason. Yes, I have 10+ years in the healthcare field as a Registered Nurse and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. Yes, I have experience in many fields such as the hospital, community, home and community setting. Yes, I have helped thousands of women achieve breastfeeding success, but I am not your typical Lactation Consultant.
Why? Because I know that breastfeeding is about a whole lot more than breastmilk.
I approach breastfeeding with the humor, tough love and compassion that you would get from a close friend (you know, the one who calls you out when you aren’t being your best self). I have over a decade of experience and tools under my belt to achieve any breastfeeding goal, but I have the finesse to only use them when it is appropriate and in a mother and baby’s best interest.
I am not afraid to use formula, pacifiers or bottles to achieve these goals…unlike many Lactation Consultants out there.
Most importantly, to me, you are not just a set or boobs or a milk-making machine. You are a woman who is learning how to be a mother. You baby is a person, with unique personality traits and temperament. Together, you are a breastfeeding pair that exists within a family. It is a multi-leveled, dynamic and ever changing relationship that deserves unwavering love, time and energy.