JoEllen Noble is an IBCLC and Certified Labor Doula. She is the Breastfeeding Coordinator for Clermont County WIC and offers private consultations through her business, Southern Ohio Birth Services. JoEllen grew up in Brown County, Ohio and still resides there with her husband and gang of little boys.
"I remember walking into my local WIC office when I was 21 years old and pregnant with my first son. The health professional I met with that day REALLY pushed breastfeeding- to the point that it turned me off! I was still trying to wrap my head around being pregnant! It also felt like she was trying to tell me what to do, which doesn't go over well with me. The maternity magazines and books made breastfeeding sound nice and all, but that it could be difficult and also that formula was basically just as good, so it didn't seem like such big deal to me whichever I chose. Like most of the other women in my community, I knew I would be returning to work as soon as physically possible after giving birth. From early on I viewed breastfeeding as something meant for more privileged moms.
The decision to breastfeed was made very last minute. I figure it was worth a try and if it didn't work out, so be it. Only it surprised me when we had some nasty latch problems and I didn't WANT to stop. My mom and a few other women I talked to said to stick it out. My stubbornness and need to problem-solve carried us through and after six rough weeks, we were on easy street!
I became a Breastfeeding Peer Helper when my son was 10 months old and immediately fell in love with this work. I made a decision from the start to listen to participants first and meet them where they are- I didn't want to make them feel pressured as I had! I live in tobacco country and many women feel uncomfortable using tobacco and breastfeeding. It's necessary to listen to each mother's concerns and develop a plan to support her before rushing to educate and rattle off a list breastfeeding benefits. Families might need problem-solving and resources to even get to a place to consider breastfeeding. It has been rewarding to be a cheerleader for other moms facing difficult situations and pushing on through to meet their goals."
Each month, our ABN board uses a random number generator to pick our member of the month. In an effort to showcase our many different members in many different fields from all over Appalachia working towards the same goal: transforming breastfeeding culture in Appalachia.