Mum of two, registered nurse and lactation consultant Lucie Ashford is passionate about helping new parents navigate breastfeeding and early parenting challenges in a holistic and supportive way. She understands how wonderful and amazing, hard and exhausting life as a new parent can be. With an overwhelming amount of information and advice out there, she encourages parents to trust their own instincts, while supporting them to achieve their breastfeeding goals and adapt to life with a newborn. By combining her personal and professional experiences, she launched Little Love Lactation to help families enjoy those precious early days of parenthood. Here, she talks to The Natural Parent Magazine about the inspiration behind her business and her hopes and dreams for the future.
The passion: What inspired you to set up your business?
My nursing career started in Wellington’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). The intensive care nursing was challenging and amazing, but the area I developed a real passion for was breastfeeding and supporting parents as they were getting ready to be discharged home with their baby. It’s so special to be part of that journey for a family. After about 3 years at NICU, I had my first baby, and it was eye opening how hard those early days of breastfeeding and sleep deprivation are! I learnt so much in the first year of being a mum. I really understood both how incredible and difficult adjusting to life with a new baby is. There’s more information out there than ever, but it’s also so overwhelming. Even with all my experience working with babies, as a first-time mum I doubted myself. I would read all this advice about feeding and sleeping that didn’t feel right for me. It took a while to feel confident in my choices.
So combining my professional and personal experiences led me to study lactation with the vision of creating a service to help parents navigate breastfeeding and early parenting challenges in a really holistic and supportive way. Being a lactation consultant is such a privilege. Every single family and situation is different and I’m constantly learning. It is also incredibly rewarding – helping new parents enjoy the precious early days with their baby is something I’m so passionate about.
The launch: How did you start out in the beginning?
I started setting up my private practice while my second daughter was just a few months old, and I was on maternity leave from working as a practice nurse. I often worked on my website while she slept on me. With 2 small children at home, I thought it would take me a long time, so I wanted plenty of time to get it ready. I surprised myself and actually launched months earlier than I had originally planned. It was so exciting to get it finished – I didn’t want to wait! It did mean a lot of childcare juggling when I went to visit clients. I had to fit them in around breastfeeding my own baby! I am so lucky to have an extremely supportive partner and family to help.
The innovation: What was the biggest breakthrough for you with your business?
The biggest breakthrough so far would be adding the online store. I found that often parents would ask me for product recommendations and I saw a lot of “essentials” being advertised for breastfeeding that aren’t actually that useful. So I set out to curate a selection of breastfeeding products that are sustainable, ethical and NZ made where possible. I stock a small range of reliable breast pumps and items that I have experience with or have researched. It has complimented the consulting side of the business really well.
Yin and Yang: How do you balance work and family?
I absolutely love being at home with my girls, but I also really enjoy the mental stimulation of work. One of the reasons I wanted to start my own business was so I wouldn’t have to work long shifts anymore, and being there to pick up my 3-year-old from kindy is really important to me. I schedule all my visits around the kids and have a lot of support from my partner who often works from home. The biggest challenge is balancing time for ourselves. I’m always advocating for other parents to practise self-care and I think my partner and I need to get better at it, especially working in a profession like nursing where you give a lot. My youngest is about to turn 1 and I’m just starting to feel like myself again, getting back into practising yoga and having a little more time for myself is so important.