Chicago, IL

How one doula is paving the path for breastfeeding and massage therapy

Leah Lichy at work with a new momMaggie Cuprisin

August 1st marked the beginning of World Breastfeeding Month. To see what is happening in the Chicagoland area, we had a chance with Leah Lichy, a doula and breastfeeding educator, who shares her story of how she is breastfeeding advocate at Blissful Mama. Lichy has seventeen years of experience in the field and also draws from her own struggles through nursing her children. This includes having a low supply, tongue tie, supplementing, etc. She has "walked the walk" and knows that having good support early and consistently throughout a new mother's first few weeks and months is exceptionally important.

"My larger goal for my role in the community is to help mothers really understand that breastfeeding is not an all-or-nothing experience. Many woman who believe they experience low supply and give up, could have had success with the correct, early support and intervention. And many woman who truly are struggling with low or micro supply can have options given to them to help empower them to continue the breastfeeding relationship in whatever capacity works for them and their family," Lichy explains.

Breastfeeding support is one of many Lichy's talents. She also sees many of her clients for bodywork prenatally which allows her to get to know them on a deeper level. She enjoys connecting with their spirit and their tissue.

"Often it’s as simple as helping them correct how they are using their pillows for sleeping at night, by modeling that position during our massage.  Other wonderful features of the sessions are the actual releasing of muscle tension, improving circulation, reducing swelling, relaxation, helping encourage baby into a good position for birth, and even induction massage working with specific acupressure points and oils to help encourage labor," Lichy says.

"In labor, often already knowing a clients body, I layer in pressure point work, counter pressure, hip squeezes, relaxation and distraction strokes to help usher their bodies through the work of labor," she adds.

Lichy uses postpartum bodywork sessions in an incredible way to help a new mother reconnect her body. She uses a midwifery technique found in South America called the “closing of the bones” which encourages the body to complete its intense “openness” that giving birth requires and come back into their protected, connected body once again.  

"I also provide traditional belly binding during these sessions to help support the newly postpartum body while organs are shifting back into place and ribs, hips and pelvis are encouraged to shrink back down again," Lichy elaborates.

For Lichy, the services she provide is an inner calling.

"I do this because I feel we do a huge disservice to the birthing people in this country.  Between the lack of maternity leave to the minimal postpartum medical care, I feel deeply compelled to be a buoy in that dark postpartum sea. Whether it’s taking five minutes to normalize a three-week old’s growth spurt so that mama doesn’t start supplementing thinking she doesn’t have enough milk for her baby or sixty minutes to lay hands on an exhausted new mother who needs desperately to connect to her newly opened body, I feel a responsibility to fill in those spaces for that community.  I adore this work, no matter how challenging it may be!" Lichy exclaims.

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I write about culture, politics, parenting, religion, and health. My work has been published in The New York Times, National Geographic, Vanity Fair, Vox and Prism Reports among others.

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