BABEs in Houston

I believe mommas are strong.  I believe babies are smart.   I believe birth is a dance.   I believe breastfeeding is natural.  And I am so excited to be a part.  Let the adventure begin!
- Misti Ryan, BSN, RN, CCE, IBCLC, RLC
Bay Area Breastfeeding is a newer lactation support and education business that is located South of Houston but serves all of Houston area on through to the Gulf!

It is ran by Leah and Misti, two wonderful women who recently helped a client of mine get through a very challenging early breastfeeding situation.
I am so thankful for the network of birth and breastfeeding professionals that I can refer to, and wanted to let you, my readers and clients, get to know them!

Who are you, family/kids, personally?

Leah: My name is Leah and I am married to an amazing man, Ben, for almost 14 years! We have 4 boys ages, 11, 8, 6, and 2. We live in Pearland and love to spend our free time together as a family. We love to be in the outdoors and exploring Houston and the surrounding areas. 

My children continuously encourage me to grow and learn in my mothering journey. I feel I have gained more knowledge from them than from any book.

Misti: As I grew older and fully realized the value of family, my primary goals in life became serving God, getting married and having babies!  I am a busy wife and stay-at-home mom of five bright, beautiful “babies” and an active member of a local faith community.  My faith is the primary driving force behind all aspects of my life. Having babies rocked my perfectionistic world as I struggled to find the balance between mothering and my natural bent toward the desire to “be in control.”  However, with the birth of each baby, I found myself becoming more instinctual in my mothering and less tied to the societal norms of parenting.

Who are you professionally, certifications, side business, additional education?

Leah: I am an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, a La Leche League Leader, Biologist and owner/partner of Bay Area Breastfeeding and Education.

I love to research, I am always reading and researching topics of interest to me.  Nutrition, lactation and infant oral motor issues are top on my list. I also have a passion to grow in my parenting so I am often reading and researching normal child development and parenting topics.

Misti: Before I became a wife and mother, I became a nurse. Growing up I always had the desire to take care of others. I spend four years at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and graduated in 1998 with my bachelor’s in nursing. After sitting for the board exam in June, I started my first job in obstetrical nursing at a very small community hospital in July. I was pretty sure before but the job clinched it…I was destined to work with moms and babies.

I became certified as a childbirth educator in 1999 and have had the pleasure of helping empower 100s of couples for their labor, delivery, breastfeeding and parenting journeys, both in the private and group setting. Through the years I have stayed up to date in all things mother/baby through various continuing education classes.

I love to learn and take advantage of every opportunity I can to further my education. After the birth of my first in 2001, I attended my first La Leche League meeting desperate for solutions to my many breastfeeding challenges. It was exciting to see so many moms breastfeeding comfortably and successfully! I continued attending meetings, and in 2003 I was approached by my leader (and midwife), Jackie Griggs, for leadership myself.

In the summer of 2004, shortly after the birth of my third baby, I completed the leader accreditation process. I have been leading meetings in Pasadena since then. The first half of my 2011 was spent studying for the IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) exam, a dream over 10 years in the making. My passing results were issued in late October, and I jumped right into the business of providing private, in-home lactation consultations along with my fabulous friend and equally passionate business partner, Leah Jolly.

What started each of you on this path?

Leah: Through my college years I developed an interest in human biology.  Even though I started my college years as a veterinary major, I quickly realized it was human biology that I found most interesting!  I switched toa biology major and focused my studies on the medical sciences. 
When I had my first son, I struggled in his early weeks figuring out breastfeeding.  After weeks of issues with his latch, he was diagnosed with Oral Motor Hypotonia, which means he had very weak oral muscles.  This condition was most likely a result of his traumatic birth. 

We never did get breastfeeding figured out and I spent weeks of shuffling through formula after formula trying to find one that didn’t make his tummy hurt! It was terrible and I vowed then, I would breastfeed any other children I had.

With the birth of my second son, I was clearly challenged on my determination and commitment to breastfeed because after another traumatic birth, this one resulting from a prolapsed cord, he too had oral motor hypotonia.

This time around, I sought out not only help with the physical issues but support for me to reach my goals, I turned to La Leche League and it made ALL the difference in my journey! The mother-to-mother support I had kept a difficult situation from turning into an impossible situation.

When I was able to successfully breastfeed my son with the proper support, I knew I wanted to offer this to other mothers. So I became a La Leche League Leader. I so enjoyed my volunteer work as a Leader. Helping and empowering mothers was so rewarding.  After many years of volunteering and learning through conferences and research I wanted to expand what I could offer a mother.

This is when I made the decision to work towards becoming a Lactation Consultant.  I spent several years gain the experience and education required to sit for the IBLCE exam in 2011. I was thrilled when I found out all my hard work paid off and I passed the exam!

Misti: I was working as a post-partum nurse(was newly married and no kids yet), and I struggled knowing how to assist my patient and her brand new baby with breastfeeding. The IBCLC came in, dimmed the lights, put the baby skin-to-skin, was so gentle and compassionate…I watched in awe the dance between mom and baby…I thought, “That’s what I want to do, help choreograph the dance.”

I was told it was a challenging journey to IBCLC, but a challenge has never stopped me. The birth of my firstborn was an even greater impetus as I struggled to breastfeed comfortably for weeks. I set out to learn of all things breastfeeding so I could help moms prevent the same problems I had. And now, more than 12 years since I was awed by awed by that breastfeeding dance, my journey to IBCLC is complete, and new adventures await…

What are your deepest desires for clients and their babies?

Leah: I want to support mothers in reaching their goals with breastfeeding. I want them to feel empowered with knowledge and supported in their goals.  I want to come along side them to support, encourage and inform them so that each mother can make decisions based off of their own desires and goals for themselves and their baby! 

I am always amazed at the strength of each and every mother I consult with.

Mothers often are not feeling very strong when they are struggling with breastfeeding but when given support,information and encouragement, I see them find their confidence and it always leaves me in awe at their strength to overcome even the most difficult situations!

Misti: One of my greatest desires for each mom is empowerment. No one knows her baby better than she does (even though she may not think she does at first!); my role is simply to equip her as she learns the rhythm of THEIR dance. It’s amazing to witness the transformation she makes as confidence in her ability to mother her baby builds.

Second, I desire a comfortable breastfeeding journey for both mom and baby. It’s such a short time from newborn to knee-high; my goal is to assist her in spending the early days relishing in her baby and her new role of mom and forming a healthy attachment for life. Last, for the sweet little innocent baby, I desire a feeling of security as mom navigates her way through the journey of motherhood.

How do you hope to make an impact on this area? And go ahead and toot your own horn, what sets you apart?

The most difficult issue with the Houston area is that many moms are not aware of the resource available for lactation support and help. Our desire, first and foremost, is to encourage mothers to seek support and help early in their breastfeeding journey. 

Many moms we encounter didn’t know Lactation Consultants do home visit or how to find a Lactation consultant.  Through Bay Area Breastfeeding and Education we want to get out in the community and reach mothers who need help and support. We reach out to medical professionals who may encounter a mother, who is struggling with breastfeeding, and inform them of our services and support so that we can reach those moms that need help!!

We also have a passion for educating mothers prior to delivery.  We have found that knowledge empowers the mother to feel confident and helps them avoid problems with breastfeeding.

We offer in-home personalized class on breastfeeding so that we can tailor the class to her and her partner’s concerns and needs.

Our big community impact goal is more babies getting breastmilk and more moms breastfeeding. We hope to accomplish this by:
  • Promoting breastfeeding as the cultural norm.
  • Supporting efforts to normalize nursing in public.
  • Increasing awareness of our profession.
  • Getting the word out to moms that help is just a phone call away.
  • Educating working moms on maintaining their breastfeeding relationship with their babies.
  • Discussing human milk donation with every potential donor mom.
Bay Area Breastfeeding & Education is unique in that we offer a family-centered, team approach to the lactation consult. Between the two of us, we have about 20 years of experience working with moms and babies, as well as over 12 years of personal breastfeeding experience.

We enjoy visiting clients together when schedules permit. While we may be unable to attend all consults together in person, the client still receives the benefit of two IBCLCs as we discuss and problem solve after every home visit. Clients have access to us after the consult via text, phone or email for follow up as needed. Breastfeeding doesn’t just involve mom and baby but the whole family.

We strive to involve partners and siblings in the consult as well as including them in the plan of care. Building relationships is the foundation of our practice…our clients are not just known by their breastfeeding issues but by their faces and the faces of their families.

To visit Bay Area Breastfeeding and Education on the web, see here. To visit them on Facebook, see here. To read some wonderful posts on their blog, see here!

For in-home or in-hospital consultations and assistance, contact them:
Phone: 713-496-2223

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