Hello, It's Nice to Meet You – Vanessa Porter, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant

Breastfeeding your infant is a beautiful, nutritionally valuable, and important step for a new mother. Breastfeeding can also be frustrating, overwhelming, confusing and while natural, not instinctual. Lactation consultants make all the difference. At Tucson Medical Center, lactation consultants advise mothers on effective techniques for successful and continuous breastfeeding of their babies. All our lactation consultants are Registered Nurses who are certified by the International Board of Certified Lactation Consultants.

Meet Vanessa Porter, International Board Certified Consultant, RN, RM

Tucson native or transplant?
I am originally from London, UK. I moved to Arizona six years ago. I am the proud mother of three children who are now all spread out now both in USA and UK. I am very proud of all of them especially my daughter who is in the USAF and will soon be transferring to Colorado having been nominated for US Air Force Academy.

Moving from England to Arizona must be a dramatic change. What are some of the differences?
Moving from London to Arizona was a big change. I worked for Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Hospital which is a huge teaching hospital opposite Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.

The population in London is a lot more transient than Tucson with a very diverse range of people. England tends to use midwives and health visitors who are skilled in assisting with breastfeeding. Assisting with pumping and lactation is part of a health care provider’s role too.

The UK has a socialized medicine system and takes care of new mothers and infants in a very different way from that of USA. New mothers get a lot more in home help. All moms get home visits from a midwife for 10 days postpartum. The midwives help with breastfeeding and pumping as well. After that 10 day period,  a health visitor takes over until that child starts school.

I worked in the community doing clinics, home visits, delivering babies and working closely with Primary Care Physicians (known as General Practitioners or GPs  in UK) and hospital doctors.

What do you love about Tucson? Anything you particularly miss about England?
I love the weather and the mountains in Tucson. I miss the hassle and bustle of London, tea and Marmite.

What do you wish more people knew about breastfeeding?
I wish more people knew the long-term health benefits for both mother and infant of breastfeeding/breast milk. I believe it is every baby’s right to have breast milk.

What was your path to becoming a lactation consultant?
I came into Lactation by meeting and working with Margaret Limbaugh, one of our senior Lactation Consultants (IBCLC), whilst working on the Mother Baby Unit as an RN. Having worked as a Drugs and Alcohol Midwife in London since 1989 I realized my extensive background and expertise in assisting breastfeeding mothers would be of great benefit in my new employment. I studied and successfully passed the Lactation board exam in 2006 and was fortunate to be accepted into the Lactation department.

What is your favorite part of being a lactation consultant?
I learned early that it is a privilege and an honor to be part of a family’s journey as I continue to interact and assist breastfeeding mothers and their babies.

Is there an aspect of being a lactation consultant you’re particularly passionate about?
More than ever our media and news are filled with this country’s ongoing struggle with so many health issues including Diabetes and heart disease to name just a few. Research has shown time and again the importance of breast milk for all babies and especially our premature infants. As an ongoing public health issue I take seriously my responsibility in the service we provide here at TMC.