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Building a Stronger Community with Meredith Wentzel, IBCLC

Meredith Wentzel is a wife, mom to two sweet kiddos, and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant and Licensed Massage and Bodywork therapist. She has provided lactation support in the home setting since 2013, and massage and bodywork therapy services since 2006. She spent 3 years pursuing IBCLC through a degree program where she obtained a Master of Arts degree in health and wellness with a concentration in lactation consulting. Yes, that’s as impressive as it sounds!

Meredith’s main goal is to be a solid support source to help moms have the wonderful breastfeeding experience they desire. She has such an interesting history and a fun story of how she got to where she is today, and we’re so happy she’s stopped by to share it with us!

Becoming a Mother changed me in many ways. It also set me on a path I never knew I would take.  The beauty of motherhood and parenthood is that it is so unpredictable. I couldn’t have predicted the career path I am on now (which I adore), the village of friends and colleagues that keep me going, and how I am able to enjoy mothering my 5 and 2 year olds through it all.  I feel very blessed to live in a community that has such a strong knit group of parents and professionals that support families in the best way.

Before my husband and I started our family, I ran a successful massage therapy practice. It was always my favorite to have a session with a pregnant mother. I enjoyed the idea of working on 2 people at once. Little did I know this was glimpse into my future career.  After being a competitive swimmer from age 8 through college, I also coached part time at a local club and high school. Although I do not coach anymore, the sport of swimming is my other love. As the kids get older I hope to get back into that. Maybe one of them will find the love of the sport and I can relive that joy all over again.

Our first child, Kennedy, was born on November 9, 2011. After planning for a natural birth, things did not go as expected.  I grieved our birth experience for a long time but the thing that got me through it was being able to breastfeed Kennedy and see her grow and thrive from my body.  It was a way for me to heal and realize my body was not broken like I once thought.  Although our birth was a very difficult experience and the early months after it were dark at times, I look back in gratitude because the journey of healing that breastfeeding provided started me on a new path to help mothers, babies and families on their own breastfeeding journeys.

When Kennedy was just under a year old I started a masters degree program where I would eventually earn a Master of Arts degree in Health and Wellness with a concentration in lactation.  Through this program I was able to earn the requirements to be able to sit for the exam to become an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, the gold standard in lactation training. I remember nights where I would ask myself what I had gotten myself into as I sat in the dark on my bed with my computer in my lap writing my thesis while Kennedy slept beside me.  There were many sleepless nights staying up to write and study since I spent my days with her. Looking back I wouldn’t change a thing.  By the end of the program, I graduated with a 4.0 and had completed a 150 page thesis that I was so proud of.  By the time I graduated and as I was putting the finishing touches on my thesis, our second child, Kase, was born.  Soon after his birth I started to serve families as a lactation professional in the upstate.  My first official home visit was when Kase was 8 weeks old. We were connected to this family through our doula. I brought Kase sleeping in his car seat to the visit with me as I helped this wonderful family.  We are still friends with them today as our sons are close in age.

After that visit I slowly grew my business and began to serve more families in their home. I got to know to midwives, doulas, childbirth educators and other birth and medical professionals in the community throughout this process. I quickly learned that it was seldom one person helping a family, but a village of professionals with the same goal being to help a mother reach her goals in birth, breastfeeding, parenting and beyond. It is this same community that I have to thank for continuing allow me to serve these amazing families.  We are really all in this thing together!

Currently, I continue to serve families in Upstate of SC.  I now work with a wonderful childbirth services agency, Well Nested, in Simpsonville, SC. I see families in their office space and host a bi-monthly breastfeeding support group there as well.  I always look forward to these groups. I love seeing the friendships bloom and the babies grow! When I am not at Well Nested, I am out making visits to families in their homes. I really love home visits because it allows me to serve families in their own environment where they are most comfortable.  It also allows the families to continue to have the rest they need by not having to pack up a newborn and leave their home. Also, if the familly has other siblings in the home, they can be included in the visit. It is always the best when am able to help a mother and baby breastfeed and sometimes tuck Mom back into bed to rest after baby has a full belly. I can let myself out quietly and go on my way.

My background is very mixed but in a crazy way it has served me well. My undergraduate degree from Penn State is in Communication Sciences and Disorders (speech and hearing sciences).  I chose not to take that route after I graduated because I was not 100% sure that was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life…but now, that background is very useful for what I do. Also the 10 years I have spent as a licensed massage therapist have allowed me to use those skills to understand anatomy, structure and function more in depth and better care for babies that may have structural issues. Even my coaching background taught me the power of positive language and motivation which I use every day.  I finally feel like I am in a place where I am really doing what I was called to do and every moment I have spent in the past of wondering where I would end up with my mixed bag of careers finally makes complete sense as they all work so well together.  I am so grateful for a career I love in a wonderful community that allows me the flexibility to still be an involved mom, which is my most important job out of them all.

Last but not least, I would not be where I am today without the support of my wonderful husband, Kevin. He is my rock, keeps me grounded and always reminds me to take a deep breath.

For more information on Meredith’s services, please visit: http://www.meredithwentzel.com/

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