Graduate Stories: Austin ReesMar 02, 2017
Oct 2013 Foundations in Bethesda, MD and Oct 2015 Progressions in Baltimore, MD
What kind of work do you do?
- Through Breast+Skin+Sling I prepare mothers, prenatally, with the foundations of Breastfeeding, Skin-to-Skin and Babywearing through the following options:
- Private, customized in-person, or virtual prenatal consults
- A four week Breast+Skin+Sling class series
- A dynamic weekend Sacred Pregnancy + Sacred Milk retreat Through Sacred Milk. My partner, Sara Goff, and I create programs that inspire instinctual wisdom for mothers as they embark on their Milk Journey. We also share the Sacred Milk program with Sacred Pregnancy Instructors and Sacred Doulas at live retreats.
What makes your job or your business unique?
I combine my background as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant with Babywearing. I uniquely offer cutting edge information, along with in-person sisterhood, creative expression, and honoring within the classes/retreats I facilitate. Mothers gain the information on how to initiate their Milk journey, but also gain a circle of local support made up of peers and professionals. With this knowledge I have witnessed mothers step into motherhood trusting their bodies, their babies, and their Milk. Through classes or consultations mothers discover their innate instincts and wisdom so they enter their unique Milk relationship secure, confident, supported, and connected to their baby.
What does a "day in the life of" look like for you? What's a "good" day of work?
In my businesses I typically spend each day responding to emails in reference to an upcoming retreat or I communicate with businesses from whom we purchase products for our gift bags. I scan for articles to share on our social media or work on a Milk Monday post by searching for the perfect photo to complement the clip of information we have written for Sacred Milk. When I have a prenatal consultation I pack in the morning, making sure I add in my kit at least two of each type of carrier and two demo dolls. I review the pre-consultation form the client has completed beforehand and make sure I bring books and handouts to meet their needs. Then I pack up their unique client gift. Examples of gifts I have shared in the past were a pair of BabyLegs, a sculpture that represents motherhood and the Sacred Pregnancy or Sacred Motherhood book. When I arrive at someone's home I set up the space for the consultation and "catch up" with the client. I begin with teaching them how milk works and the impact birth and postpartum procedures have on milk. We move into skin-to-skin contact and the expectations of a newborn. Together we begin to create a core support team full of local peers and professionals. We end the consultation with a babywearing demonstration and practice. I enjoy meeting couples or families in their home because the space represents them. I am invited into their sacred space and share tools they can use in their space. We discuss where Mom will spend most of her day when baby is born and adapt that area to meet her needs. Many mothers have appointments late in pregnancy outside of the home so this is an opportunity for them to not have to leave their house but still meet their needs and prepare for their milk and babywearing journey.
How did the CBWS training(s) play a role in your day-to-day work?
I learned more than just a set of technical skills in my CBWS trainings. Not only did we become proficient on carriers and carrying techniques, CBWS taught communication comprehension, which included positive and neutral language. We practiced how to empty ourselves and remove our convictions and meet clients where they are in the moment. These courses gave me the tools to create an individual outline for me. I can take each lesson and adapt it to be the most beneficial for my client.
Any thoughts/input you want to share about how you balance your "work life" with your "real life"?
I am a mother to four children ages 13, 11, 9, and 3. When I first started Sacred Milk I was homeschooling my older children. My Sacred Milk business partner is a homeschooling mother to six children and lives in another state. Together we must balance creating our program along with meeting the needs of 10 children. I created Breast+Skin+Sling after I moved to Baltimore, MD. Living in a new city and starting a new business presented challenges. Thank goodness I met a magnificent massage therapist in the area at a Sacred Pregnancy retreat earlier in the year. She introduced me to a tightly-knit and supportive birth community. I began to attend Birth Circles, and created a mastermind group of different professionals in the birth community. We met monthly for peer support, accountability, and business brainstorming.
What is one piece of advice you wish you could share with your "pre-CBWS" self?
When I registered for the Foundations course my husband was in the middle of retiring from the Army and interviewing for a new career. The government shutdown was looming and we had no extra funds. I was also in my third trimester of pregnancy and was feeling poorly. I reached out to everyone I knew to help support me financially to attend. Months later I was able to repay them. I was determined to take advantage of this course that was only about an hour away. I was stressed about finding the funds for the course along with feeling crummy due to my pregnancy. Thankfully, it worked out! Through this course I created some fabulous friendships and people I can network with in Virginia and Maryland.
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