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Lorie Ochoa holds an educational doll in her peaceful office. / Laura Austin Photo

August is celebrated as Breastfeeding Month around the world

By LAURA QUEZADA News Review Staff Writer –  World Breastfeeding Month in August started as World Breastfeeding Week in 1992. “Countries all around the world celebrate a mother’s choice to breastfeed her baby,” says Lorie Ochoa, Sole Owner/Operator of Lorie’s Lactation Station. She is happy to report, “California leads the way in breastfeeding rights and laws for mothers to be able to breastfeed, including when they go back to work. That is something my business is able to do: set moms up with knowing what their rights are, what the laws are, to protect them, and being able to help them with a pumping schedule if they desire to continue the breastfeeding journey. So yes, California leads the way in the nation and Ridgecrest is right there.

“My role here is to educate, support, and encourage in any way I can. I also want to stress that every family’s breastfeeding journey looks different; there are many ways to breastfeed, including exclusively latching and then there are moms who choose to pump and that is what exclusively breastfeeding looks like for that family. And then there are moms who need to breastfeed when they are able, but then they are also using formula. So there are many different ways that breastfeeding can look and I’m here to help each family succeed in the path they have chosen to take.”

With her empathetic outlook, Ochoa says, “Although breastfeeding is natural, it’s very difficult. You have a mom recovering. You have hormone shifts. You have a new baby. That is scary. So you’re being pushed physically, intellectually, emotionally, and it becomes very difficult. Partners may or may not know how to support, how to encourage, or even realize they have a role in helping the mother be able to breastfeed because support is key. Most people can push through if they feel they have good support.”

She designed her business to meet the unique needs of a breastfeeding family, “My business model is I’m open when I need to be here. (Including weekends and evenings) A unique part of this business is not only do you not know when a mom is going to need help, but it’s very difficult to put that mom off for three, four, or five days, in which case breastfeeding, unfortunately, could be stopped. So I really try to be available when that call comes and to be here for that client. That family that needs me so badly.”

Ochoa is a part-time contractor through The Lactation Network based in Chicago. If one connects to them via Ochoa’s QR code on her business card and social media, they can learn whether their insurance covers her services. If it does, it is 100% for however many visits are needed. However, her non-insured fee is only $100 and most people only need one visit. “If I’ve done my job well, most moms don’t need to come see me more than once. One visit roughly is the cost of three to four cans of what formula costs, which ends up being very cost-effective to come here,” she emphasizes.

Ochoa is a longtime resident, raised in Trona from infancy, educated in Bakersfield, and worked at Ridgecrest Regional Hospital (RRH) for more than 20 years. After college, she married her high school sweetheart, worked in obstetrics in Victorville, and then moved to Ridgecrest to raise her family. Over the years, she obtained degrees beyond her Registered Nurse qualifications. In 2007, she obtained a degree to be an LCLactation Consultant through a 40-hour continuing education program. In 2010, she became an IBCIC, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. This was more intense and time-consuming than the LC. She calls her job at RRH “the best job ever.” Last year, she decided she needed a change and stepped away. After three months, she realized she missed being a part of helping families with their breastfeeding journeys.

Though all of the commonly and not commonly known benefits of breastfeeding. “The benefits for the baby are many and we are discovering more and more of these benefits depending on the length of the time that the baby was given mommy milk. Those benefits exceed into adulthood with things such as diabetes, intestinal diseases and even certain cancers.

“Breast milk has been shown to help as these babies grow up into adults. The first year of life a baby grows faster; it is the greatest year of growth our entire lives. What helps us grow is our nutrition. When a baby is getting mommy’s milk, they are getting living antibodies. They are getting things their body is deficient in that a mother’s body is able to help compensate. It’s good for the immune system. It’s good for the intestinal system. It’s healthiest for the brain. Babies that have breast milk have larger brains and score higher on IQ tests.

“What we often don’t look at is the benefits to the mother. I think most people realize that breast milk is good for the baby, but we don’t realize how it helps a mother’s body recover after labor. It helps decrease bleeding and helps bring the uterus down to regular size faster. Also, when you’re breastfeeding, you have that wonderful hormone called prolactin that can help a mom relax. So moms, when breastfeeding is going well, tend to feel more relaxed and calmer. Later in life, there is a decreased chance of breast cancer, uterine cancer, and ovarian cancer.  So it’s very beneficial to the mother as well.

“I think the hard part is in the beginning. Taking care of a newborn for the first 28 days of their life is absolutely exhausting. I call it ‘Baby Boot Camp’. It can be very challenging and most people feel like it’s natural, therefore it should be easy. To me, that is the biggest misconception because breastfeeding is not easy. It’s it takes a lot of time in the beginning. It can be uncomfortable in the beginning, as your body is learning what your baby needs it to do in making milk and keeping up with the demands and as a mother is recovering from giving birth. So it’s a very challenging time and moms just need that extra support. And that’s what I always hope to provide.”

Some moms shared how Ochoa helped them. Chelsea Hadgett says, “My newborn daughter and I had been going through some breastfeeding struggles. If it wasn’t for Lorie, I don’t know that I would still be nursing her. Lorie always meets with my daughter and me when it’s convenient for us. She is so compassionate and knowledgeable and makes you feel confident in your abilities. Lorie’s a great teacher who really takes time to listen to my concerns and prioritizes my comfort. I leave her office feeling like I can do it on my own and overcome any challenges I face with feeding my daughter.”

“Lorie has been such a great support for me and my family. I called her the day we got home from the hospital and she made time for us right away. I had a C-section and latching issues that ultimately led to our needing help with feeding. She not only provided physical support and tools but also emotionally kept encouraging me. She checked in on us after each visit and kept reaching out to make sure we were still progressing. She made me feel safe to ask all my questions and celebrated each win with me.” A.S.

Ochoa purposefully chose High Desert Fitness as the setting for her office, “I didn’t want moms with new babies having to come into a medical environment. I wanted them to feel comfortable and not be concerned about that aspect. It’s just a nice tranquil place to work with people.”