If you want to know what a lactation consultant does, read this book. Chris Auer isn’t going to give you the secret to the best latch ever, or which nipple cream is most effective, or how to hold the breast just so to maximize milk expression. However, in “Under One Sky”, she’ll help you understand that lactation consulting isn’t just about technique, it’s about wisdom and skill to bring that technique to a breastfeeding mother, baby, and family.
In over 100 vignettes from her 40-plus years of practice as a maternity nurse and lactation consultant, Chris shares the stories of mothers, colleagues, and her own family in those moments when their lives came together with breastfeeding. In the introduction, when Chris talked about helping moms from many different countries, I thought that the book might be a sort of travelogue of adventures as a visiting nurse. However, the diversity wasn’t in the places that she traveled to; rather, it was in the families from all over the world who were in her domain, at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio. This perspective is a great gift, as a means to remind us that populations are more mobile than ever and that we, as lactation consultants, have a responsibility to reach across cultural differences to provide humane care at one of the most vulnerable times of a woman’s life – her first connection with her child.
The stories cover a wide range of experiences. Some tell a complete story of a family’s joys, challenges, disappointments, or devastations. Others provide praise, and sometimes criticism, of colleagues, family members, and institutions in their relation to breastfeeding. Some stories launch a discussion of medical, economic, political, historical, and cultural factors that have often created barriers to women attaining their breastfeeding goals. Several present the real truth that not every woman wants to breastfeed or enjoys it, that bad and sad things can happen, and that what we envision often isn’t our reality. These stories demonstrate is that sometimes all we can do, as professionals and compassionate human beings, is to do the best we can.
I am often approached by women who have become passionate about breastfeeding and want to become a lactation consultant to help others. Along with the other guidance I give, I’m also going to encourage them to read “Under One Sky.” This fabulous memoir is a poignant, humble, and joyous glimpse into what it means to be a breastfeeding support professional.
-Doraine Bailey, MA, IBCLC, RLC
Author, ILCA World Breastfeeding Week Action Kits, 1997-2014
Editor, ILCA Globe, 2006 – 2014