Today on the blog I am interviewing Jamee Diver of Roots Wellness in Mason. Jamee serves the greater-Cincinnati area as a Certified Lactation Specialist, a Practitioner of Craniosacral Therapy, a La Leche League Leader, Certified Hypnobirthing Instructor, and a Child Passenger Safety Technician. She is also a candidate for the International Board Certified Lactation Counselor exam, which she will sit for in April of 2016.
I have known Jamee myself for over 6 years through our involvement together in La Leche League, and I wanted to give her the space here to talk a little bit about what CST is, how it benefits newborns and the breastfeeding relationship, and also more about Jamee’s experiences as a Certified Lactation Specialist.
First of all, what is craniosacral therapy, and how does it apply to newborns?
When babies are born, and when they pass through the birth canal, their head molds which is a normal physiological function. Depending on many different factors, including the baby's alignment in the womb, if they had an extremely long or short birth, or if they were born surgically, with forceps, or by extraction, sometimes those bones do not go back the way they should immediately after the birth. If the skull bones do not go back to their normal position, it can affect some of the cranial nerves which can affect sucking and breastfeeding. That's where craniosacral therapy, or CST, comes in to help facilitate the process of healing.
During a CST session, we are using guided placement of the hands on the body along with extremely light pressure, about the weight of nickel, or 5 grams of pressure, to help encourage the fluids in the body to move, the fascia of the muscle to release tension, and the bones in the skull to realign properly. Even the easiest, gentlest births are very physical and emotional events for babies, and CST can help them release some of the stress of birth and relax. It can reduce colic symptoms, encourage them to sleep better, and also to breastfeed better.
What led you to train in this area specifically?
When my oldest was a newborn, Michelle Emanuel of Tummy Time in Cincinnati was offering free CST sessions for anyone who attended an event at the Cincinnati Family Enrichment Center. I thought, “Why not just try it?” I went to the first session, and saw Michelle working with her. I really didn’t understand anything; I just saw Michelle holding my baby and cooing at her.
We went home, and my baby was happy in the carseat for the first time. When we got home, she slept for 3 or 4 days straight. So I thought, ok if I can pay to get my kid to sleep, I’m going to do it! We went back, and every time we would see a decrease in fussiness and increase in comfort. It was something positive for us, so we continued to do it.
When we had our second, we already had this relationship with Michelle, so we took him too see her as a preventative measure. We did have difficulty breastfeeding, and noticed he would do better after each session. Eventually he was diagnosed with a tongue and lip-tie that were also affecting the breastfeeding relationship. We used CST to help heal from the trauma of his revision, and noticed that he started breastfeeding so much better.
Through talking with Michelle and seeing firsthand the many ways that CST can improve or benefit the breastfeeding relationship, I started to think that maybe if I trained in CST, I could use it to benefit the moms in my lactation practice too. Now I give a quick CST session to every baby who comes to me for lactation, especially for the babies I see who have come to me because they are having a hard or difficult time with breastfeeding.
Through this process, I’ve learned a lot about normal tongue function and normal neck movement. It has really given me a more holistic view of breastfeeding.
Tell me about your path to becoming a La Leche League Leader and, soon, an IBCLC?
I attended my first La Leche League meeting when I was pregnant with my first. I knew that getting good support was a big factor in having a successful breastfeeding relationship. I didn’t really have any breastfeeding issues with my daughter after she was born, but I just kept going back. I always attended the meetings, and I was often giving advice. I just naturally fell into a leadership position, and finalized the process to become a leader after my second child was born.
I was in nursing school in the middle of this, but realized that I just wouldn’t be happy working in a hospital, and that I really enjoyed helping moms breastfeed. It was really fulfilling to see moms be successful and feel empowered, and to know that I had played a small role in that. I wondered what it would look like to have a career I loved, so that’s when I decided to become an International Board Certified Lactation Counselor (IBCLC). I am finishing that up this spring and sitting for the exam in April. By June I should be an IBCLC.
Do you have any amazing success stories? Things that stand out in your mind and remind you that this is why you are doing what you are doing?
The most impactful story for me happened about 9 months ago in May. This mom, whose story I am sharing with permission, was planning to adopt. She had previously adopted two other children, but she had never breastfed before. She and her husband knew that this would be their last baby they would adopt, and wondered if breastfeeding was even something that would be possible.
We talked on the phone about some resources for adoptive lactation and a little bit about her history and a plan for successful adoptive breastfeeding. She decided it was something she wanted to try, and ordered the medication and started pumping.
The baby was born earlier than expected, and she called me and said, “I’ve been pumping and I am starting to get some drops. I have the baby, and he latched right on!” So we set up an appointment for her to come in and see how he was latching and what sort of milk supply she had. We also talked about how to supplement at the breast, and she ordered all of the equipment.
I went into the appointment thinking, ok, the chances of having a full supply for a newborn in an adoptive situation is not all that high. I had worked with a couple of other adoptive moms before to relactate, but those moms had had biological babies and breastfed before. This was the first mom I had worked with who had never lactated or breastfed before. I wasn’t super confident in my ability to help her.
I walked in, though, and I saw this mom and baby, and this unexpected, in my point of view, connection between them. I had this overwhelming sense then that everything would be ok. The baby had the best latch I had seen in years.
We talked about how they could stimulate more breast milk production by nursing more. She held him skin-to-skin, snuggled him close, and kept latching him on to breastfeed 24/7, and within 6-8 weeks she had a full milk supply, something that is almost unheard of in an adoptive situation. He’s coming up on 8 months old and is exclusively breastfed. She’s had some difficulty with his adoption process, but she says that this breastfeeding relationship gives her peace. That is her way to mother him and connect with him in a deeper way. It was very impactful.
And all the moms I see- it is such a blessing to see moms and babies learning and connecting together through the breastfeeding relationship, to see a mom’s face when her new baby latches for the first time or hears those first few swallows. It’s a gift to know that I have touched so many lives in a small way. It’s really the moms and babies who put in the work, I am just there to guide them. It’s about empowering mothers to mother their babies, and for many of the moms I work with, that begins with breastfeeding.
If anyone is interested in learning more, where can they go to connect with you or learn more?