CATHERINE FENNER MENTOR
International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), breastfeeding educator.
I have spent the last 10 years helping parents navigate the wonders and challenges of feeding their babies. As a lactation consultant that provides in-home and office consultations, I am known in the Puget Sound region for being dedicated to helping parents find solutions that fit their values.
Early breastfeeding support is an important part of successful nursing, but so is education prior to the birth of a child. I have found that knowing the signs that breastfeeding is working gives parents confidence in the process. And knowing the signs they need help empowers them to advocate for their baby sooner.
I started leading informative breastfeeding classes over 8 years ago leading breastfeeding classes as part of Penny Simpkin’s home birth series. I have worked with hundreds of families and one thing I have found is that a balance is needed in class. Too much information can make new parents feel overwhelmed and does not really help in the days after a baby is born. I continue to perfect a combination of information, useful activities, time and space for families to decide what is right for them, and providing resources in case there are questions after class- and there normally are!
My approach is to be thoughtful and nurturing rather than overwhelming. I believe it is important for families to have lots of time to figure out what is most important to them. In class, often the most productive part is in the time during the Q & A when families speak openly about their concerns.
One of the reasons I love leading Nourishing Newborns is that when class is over I know that the babies are going to be off to a great start! The families who attend also have access to reliable support if they find they need it.
I believe all babies are born wanting to breastfeed, and parents are born making the best choices they can for their babies in an imperfect world.
CURIOUS? Here are a few Q & A.
Q. WHEN DID YOU ANSWER YOUR CALLING?
When my first baby was born I thought breastfeeding was normal and natural, and that it would just work. I would just know what to do. That does happen for some people. For me, it was a bigger transition than expected. Looking back, I would have felt more prepared if I knew the signs it was working, and when I needed help. I had the confidence and optimism, but not much knowledge. We found our way through that difficult time with a lot of tears (his and mine), pain, frustration and fear that it wouldn’t work. I learned that knowing the basics helps me know when I need more help. I learned that I don’t need to sacrifice my well-being to be a loving mother. And sometimes my picture of how things should be is too small. Amazing things happen when I do my part and let the rest unfold. I hope every family I work with can learn those things quicker than I did. You will enjoy the bumps that come with the parenting journey a lot sooner.
Q. WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO OUTSIDE OF WORK?
I reconnected with my roots as a ballet dancer a few years ago. I enjoy taking class at least once a week. I enjoy gardening, reading books about historical fiction, biographies and spirituality. I do these things when I’m not driving kids to soccer, ballet, and friends’ houses to hang out.
Q. WHAT DID YOU DO BEFORE YOU WERE A DOULA + EDUCATOR?
I was a human resources manager for a large home builder. My favorite parts of the job were employee and manager development – teaching, coaching, helping people find their potential. In many ways similar to what I do now. I don’t miss the paperwork, or all the rules…there is still an aspect of that in I do now too.
I went back to school for a few quarters and had a few random jobs after leaving the grocery business. I hope to one-day go back to school and get a degree in a subject I feel passionately about.
"Catherine was wonderful, bringing hope, calm and her expertise to a hard situation." -Courtney, new mom
"Her bedside manner was warm and caring, and she provided information and choices that were helpful and empowering." -Jennifer, new mom