Meet Sarah Ward, IBCLC of Tallahassee Lactation Care 2

Today I’d like to introduce you to Sarah Ward, IBCLC, owner of Tallahassee Lactation Care, and one of the most thoughtful and uplifting people I’ve ever met. The number of people who would like to bottle Sarah’s warmth and kindness numbers in the thousands, I am certain.I sat down with Sarah to learn more about how she became an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and what inspires her life’s work.

Sarah and I will be together at the Capital Area Breastfeeding Coalition‘s booth at this Saturday’s Good to Be Green Festival.

Tallahassee Lactation CareWhat made you interested in becoming an IBCLC?

I became interested in becoming an IBCLC after I met one for the first time. My first son was days old and breastfeeding was a disaster. Every time he came near me, he became hysterical. I was sure it would never work out, and that I would have to pump forever. She never doubted me, though. Ever. We had many obstacles to overcome, but at two months he latched onto me without any devices, prep, or finger crossing. And it was magical! Whatever a woman’s breastfeeding goals may be, I want to help her get there. Because that reaching the top of the mountain part, that’s juicy!

What is your favorite part about being an IBCLC?

Holding tiny new babies is definitely a job perk for me! However my favorite part is empowering mom to be her best self. No one really talks at baby showers about the monumental role change from woman to mother. I found it to be overwhelming, powerful, intense, and mostly just instantaneous. All of a sudden you are responsible for another’s life, and perhaps even his only source of sustenance. Encouraging mom to trust her own instincts and to listen for that wise voice inside, believing in a mom until she believes in herself. THAT is my favorite part of being an IBCLC.

Where did you grow up?Babywearing Tallahassee

I grew up in Temple Terrace, FL, which is a tiny town outside of Tampa. I lived in the same house almost my whole life with my mom, dad, and sister. We could walk a block down to the Hillsborough River. It wasn’t terribly exciting, but it also wasn’t tragic. I hope I can give my kids the same slow and steady upbringing.

What is your favorite part about Tallahassee?

My favorite part about Tallahassee is the people. There seems to be a greater number of open-minded and tolerant people than anywhere else I have lived. I love that it’s small enough that I will probably run into a friend or two when out and about, but it’s also big enough that there’s always something to do.

What is something about you that we would be surprised to hear?

I think most people would be surprised to know that I can’t use a manual can opener, and honestly I’m terrible with the electric ones too. I also, can’t use a lighter to save my life. You know the the small one that people use to light cigarettes? I just can’t get it to work. And to round out my list of shortcomings, you might as well know that I am terrified of being burned by the oven. If anyone else is home, I always ask them to take out whatever is finished in the oven. I’ve never been burned, but just can’t shake this fear.

Tallahassee BabywearingBesides the oven, do you have a most hated household chore?

My most hated household chore is cleaning out the car. The level of disorder in my car, usually mirrors the level of chaos in my life. I try to get through the whole thing every week, because I really do feel better when it’s done. That said, I ask every holiday for someone else to do it for me!

I think you deserve many, many trophies, but have you ever won one?

I have won a trophy, thanks for asking! My mom was one of 7 kids, two boys and 5 girls. The girls all took married names that began with either S or W, while the boys kept the family name which begins with a W. All of their children are my cousins. Our generations has also taken on the marrying of Ss and Ws. So each year at the family reunion, the Ss compete against the Ws in games like Scrabble, mini golf, sand castle building, etc. When we were younger, the patriarch of the family would hand out his old golfing trophies that had new name plates on them like “Best in Volleyball,” or whatever the game was. It was a traveling trophy so the next year if the Ss lost, they would have to pass it on to the Ws. We haven’t given out trophies in years, but it’s still my favorite week every year!








Learning Early Breastfeeding Cues


One of the absolutely MOST important things for a new parent is your learning your baby’s feeding cues.

A lot of people think a baby crying is the first sign of hunger but that’s actually one of the LAST cues.

When your sweet baby starts stirring, that is the very first sign that he’s ready for milk. His tummy is ready for a refill and is waking him up so he can get to it.

The more visible cues are the more physical ones: smacking or licking his lips, gnawing on his hands, rubbing his hands anywhere around his face, stretching, etc. Those are his way of saying, “Hey, if you put me near a breast, I’d be very happy to eat.”

If he has woken and has given all the other signs of readiness but nursing hasn’t begun, then he will pull out the big guns, telling you all about his displeasure at the lack of milk traveling to his belly.


Two real life scenarios:

Your baby is giving you the “I’m hungry” cues but also has a dirty diaper. Yes, another one. What do you do?!? Well, that’s your decision, but what I would suggest is that a full baby would probably tolerate a diaper change rather than a hungry one. Just a guess, though.

Your baby has given you all the signs, but for whatever reason, you have not been able to get to him fast enough (it happens, be gentle to yourself, please!). Now, he’s moved on and is doing his best impression of the babies on the bottom of the above chart… All three at once! What do you do now?!?!?!? The answer is NOT put him to the breast. I can tell you from personal experience that a baby yelling at the boob is one of the most stressful moments of a new mother’s life. No, instead, place your baby on your chest, give him time to reconnect with you skin-to-skin, for you both have a moment to find your calm, to take a collective breath and start over again together. Then, try to latch baby for the feeding.


A side note, but sometime to file away in the important parenting skills section of your sleep-deprived brain: Skin-to-skin can bring you both back to center, not just in these moments. File that away for the next rough moment with baby.


I joke with my clients that every time they think their baby is cute, they should probably assume he is also hungry. Babies need to be fed 8-12 times a day (which averages out to about every 2-3 hours). If he’s feeding more often than that (can be referred to as “cluster feeding”), it can be because of growth spurts, building your supply, or just because he needs to be near you, just as he has been for the last nine months or so.


If you’re interested in speaking with me more about breastfeeding and early cues, please contact me at or (850) 597-2535.

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Maintaining Your Supply while Working on Latch

The first weeks of life with your baby can – no WILL – hold some of the most rewarding and the most challenging moments of your life.

The question for today is what the heck do you do to help build your supply if you’ve encountered breastfeeding issues?

First thing to know is that you need to build and then protect your milk supply. Breastfeeding is a supply and demand relationship. In the most basic terms, baby (or pump) demands milk on the regular, body learns to supply milk on the regular. If you don’t stimulate the breasts at a rate equal to baby’s need, then your body doesn’t know what baby’s need is.

Let me repeat: It’s very important that you build and maintain your supply, no matter what – this includes NICU mamas!

I know exactly what it feels like to face this supply/demand issue with a baby who regularly refused to latch. So, what did I do?

I attempted to latch her every 2-3 hours around the clock. If she latched, GREAT! And when she wouldn’t latch within 30-45 minutes, I’d pump while my husband fed her the last milk I pumped. Don’t forget, she didn’t want anything in her mouth, so he had a hard time, too, the poor guy. And what did this look like? Complete, utter exhaustion for both me and my husband.

But! And PLEASE pay attention to this! It was only through perseverance that we were able to make it through the other side still nursing. There were many, many times I wanted to quit trying and either just exclusively pump or hang up the pump altogether and either use donor milk or formula. Sitting on the couch with the pump motor mocking me while my husband struggled to get milk into our daughter’s belly was one of my lowest points. But then I’d remember how hard I’d worked to become a mother in the first place, how hard I worked to push her out (hello, emergency cesarean after pushing for HOURZZZZZZ), and how hard I’d worked to bring in my mature milk and build my supply, and I’d keep on going.

We did this around the clock for three weeks, and I spoke with an IBCLC nearly everyday (I saw her once a week at minimum). Eventually, with lots of troubleshooting, practice, and PATIENCE, we left the angry-baby-pass-off-and-pump routine behind.

This experience inspired me to become a certified lactation counselor.

If you’re having issues with breastfeeding at any stage, please ask for help. You don’t need to go through this without support and guidance. Please contact a IBCLC, and LLL Leader, or CLC such as myself. Help is closeby, you just have to ask for it. Don’t wait. Nursing 8-12 times a day adds up quickly – waiting even over the weekend means you’ll be nursing (or attempting to do so) close to 50 times before you make that call.

If you’re in the Tallahassee area, I can be reached at


Info from Establishing and Maintaining Milk Supply when Baby is Not Breastfeeding