We were thrilled to interview Heather Elkins, an internationally board-certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) at RootLove Lactation Services, LLC, and uplift the wonderful work she does for her clients.
WishGarden Herbs: Why do you think lactation specialists are so important in this day and age?
Heather Elkins: I believe lactation specialists are so important today because our society has had a significant loss of cultural knowledge when it comes to lactation. No longer do we frequently witness our family, friends, and community members engage in breast/chestfeeding as a commonplace way to nourish a child. Nor are we able to regularly seek their skilled advice when lactation challenges or questions arise. I take great pride in being able to offer individual lactation education and support, but I take equal pride in supporting the growth of peer-to-peer lactation support networks in our community, since I believe this is where the real shift toward reclaiming the loss of cultural knowledge lies.
WGH: How did you get into this type of work?
HE: I left the full-time practice of law when my son was born nine years ago, but I knew that I wanted to still engage in some sort of work outside of the home. I struggled to breastfeed my son in the early days of his life and received crucial lactation support that allowed me to successfully breastfeed him for more than two years. As a way to pay this forward, I started volunteering with Boulder County's Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants & Children (WIC), providing lactation counseling for its participants. I quickly discovered that I had a passion for this work and took the Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC) training to advance my knowledge. I eventually pursued the substantial coursework and training to become an internationally board-certified lactation consultant (IBCLC). I opened my private practice, RootLove Lactation Services, in January 2019. It was a long but worthwhile journey to get to where I am today.
WGH: What role have herbs and other supplements had in your practice?
HE: While it's beyond my scope of practice as an IBCLC to specifically recommend herbs or other supplements, many lactating parents I work with either come to my practice using herbs to help with challenges like plugged milk ducts or low milk supply or are curious about the potential benefit of herbs to aid their lactation journey. As such, I often share information with my clients about the traditional role of herbs in supporting lactation, such as Goat's Rue to boost milk supply (always in conjunction with good milk removal), Calendula for its fungal normalizing and healing properties, and WishGarden's Happy Ducts tincture for healthy milk ducts.
Clients are often impressed with the beneficial effects that herbs have in supporting their lactation needs. It's also important to remember that while herbs can be powerful tools, working with a lactation professional like an IBCLC to address the root cause of breastfeeding/chestfeeding challenges is often crucial to ensuring successful outcomes. Because many herbs are powerful medicine, individuals should always check with their health care provider before using any herbal supplement to ensure it's the right choice for their individual medical history.
For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, or sell any product.