We had the good fortune of connecting with Rhegan Derfus and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rhegan, we’d love for you to start things off by telling us something about your industry that we and others not in the industry might be unaware of?
Lactation consultants are vital, yet often misunderstood and undervalued. Whenever I meet someone and tell them I am a lactation consultant, the response is usually an oversimplification, “oh, you help people breastfeed” or “oh, I never had one of those “ while proceeding to share all the pain and struggles they went through when breastfeeding. Being a lactation consultant is so much more than just “helping people breastfeed” and is a vital resource for all families, not just the ones who plan to exclusively breastfeed or are “doing okay.” Lactation consultants work with families who chose to formula feed, babies with special needs, non-birthing parents who want to induce lactation, mamas who lose their babies but still have breastmilk, parents transitioning back to work, families with medical issues impacting breastfeeding, parents who are exclusively pumping, and more. Lactation consultants stay on top of their continuing education so we can maintain our ability to address complex and unique situations. I work with a rich and diverse array of families, all unique in their needs, challenges, and versions of success. I am a counselor, a detective, a cheerleader, and a validator. I hold babies, hold hands, and hold space for big feelings and heavy hearts. Lactation consultants are often the only professional really listening, seeing, hearing, and being with families during the postpartum period, even advocating for them or empowering them to advocate for themselves with other professionals. Lactation consultants can help identify major health concerns in the mother, promote healthy and safe child development, and connect families with other resources that will support their parenting journeys. Every single person I talk to who has birthed a child has shared a breastfeeding story with me, regardless of duration or intent. Every person who has birthed a child has thought about, experienced, dealt with, or utilized breastmilk. Because of this nearly universal experience (whether positive or negative), a lactation consultant should not be a luxury, it should be an integral part of the reproductive process and the postpartum experience or intention to do so. In a parenting society that values the newest product, the coolest gadget, and the best “thing” for baby- lactation professionals are undervalued as a parenting support, and if they are utilized, they are often only sought out once there is a problem or the family is in infant feeding or physical crisis. Families should invest in a lactation consultant in the same way they invest in baby monitors, swings, and diaper warmers. Lactation consultant services should be a normal baby shower gift. Hospitals and medical offices should invest in lactation consultants, as continuum of both infant and maternal health. Companies should invest in lactation consultants, as a tool for employee retention and overall wellness.
What should our readers know about your business?
Wildflower Services & Consulting, LLC has been in development for over 10 years. Throughout my professional career as a public health coordinator, family support specialist, and early childhood educator in a rural county, I became increasingly aware and called to do something about the lack of affordable and accessible services for families. Over time, I’ve been more specifically called to the disparities around pregnancy, birth, and postpartum in the rural communities. In 2020, this long thought out vision of a business that could provide lactation consultant services, parenting education, and contractual services to organization was brought to fruition. The journey to this business has been smooth, and I attribute that to both my perspective and the community. While Wildflower is a business that needs to be profitable to be successful, financial gain is not the ultimate goal of the services we provide. The overall goal is to support families, and to increase breastfeeding rates and duration through any opportunity available. This means partnership with local organizations to increase breastfeeding friendly practices, developing relationships with medical providers, and creating a holistic network of Speech-Language Pathologists, Doulas, and other Lactation Consultants. The community itself has been incredibly receptive to Wildflower, and I believe that is because they see the need and trust the authenticity of our values. We show up for families and for programs, offering support where we can and being flexible in how we partner to get needs met and create a better world for parents and babies. I want the world to know that Wildflower Services & Consulting, LLC will always strive to be for the people. Our mission is, “serve the community by providing compassionate and individualized lactation and parenting education and support and to offer the highest level of care by maintaining my professional competency and staying up to date on relevant information, providing evidence and research-based information and interventions, committing to excellency; researching and consulting with other professionals when needed. I believe that all families are unique, and inherently worthy of quality care, education, and support. I believe in working with the family to meet their specific needs, and never taking a “one size fits all” approach. I believe that all parents want to be the best parents they can be to their babies. I believe that genuine, loving, caring professionals can support a family to meet their goals, overcome challenges, and experience joy around feeding their child” and this mission is integrated into everything we do.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My shoutout goes to three groups of people. My close circle that has cheered me on and encouraged my passion for supporting families. I’m grateful for my people, they believe in my goals and my mission for a more compassionate community for families. They’ve been here every step of the way, from the rigorous biology courses to the endless studying for the International Board Certified Lactation Consultant® (IBCLC®) exam. They promote my business, purchase services, and refer to friends. The incredible lactation consultant, breastfeeding counselors, and other birth workers that offer guidance, support, encouragement, advice, and leadership. This industry is full of fellow business owners and woman-owned businesses that strive to uplift others and grow the field. While there are many individuals and businesses I could name, a few that really supported my journey into birth work and share my vision for high quality, accessible lactation services for all are: Christy Stuth (Coconino Cooperative Extension), Renee Palting (IBCLC with Mindful Lactation, Arizona Breastfeeding Coalition, and ADHS Breastfeeding Hotline), Stephanie Haws (IBCLC with Canyon Vista Medical Center), and Christia Bridges-Jones (IBCLC with the ADHS Lactation Consultant Mentorship program). Finally, my deepest thanks go out to the families who are willing to seek support and invite me into their homes. Bearing witness to their parenting journey and being offered the opportunity to partner with a dyad is the greatest honor.
Swift Family Photography