Anjelica Malone is a Lactation Educator Counselor and amazing mom to two beautiful daughters. A world traveler, she’s currently based in Guam with her husband and children. She recently launched anjelicamalone.com, an online home to educate mothers around the world about lactation, as well as being a resource for moms seeking a holistically minded community.
I know you reside in Guam, how long have you lived there?
My family and I moved to Guam in July 2014. We will be here until next year, when we move again and make a new city our home.
Did you give birth to one or both of your daughters on the island, and if so, how did you navigate the fourth trimester?
I gave birth to my second daughter, Nell, here on Guam at Sagua Managu Birthing Center. My first daughter was born in Puerto Rico. The fourth trimester was very easy physically but more intense emotionally the second time around.
My husband works long hours, as a Damage Controlman, for the United States Coast Guard and leaves for days and weeks at a time every month. He was able to take off the first month postpartum but had to jump back in full force after that. At the time I was also launching my curated shop and trying to grow my lactation practice, so many times I felt overwhelmed. What I learned to do though was have complete days of no work. The whole day would be dedicated to relaxing, not getting in the car, and eating meals that didn’t require much preparation like simple sautéed veggie bowls with a protein over rice. I still implement “no work” days every now and then to help me regain focus and intently care for the girls and myself.
What brought you to Guam?
My husband is in the United States Coast Guard and we are stationed here for his job. We were given a few options to choose from when moving from Puerto Rico, which is where we lived previously and we were adamant about choosing locations with a similar way of life. My husband and I really love the rich family oriented culture and laid back lifestyle that island living offers.
Is breastfeeding the norm on Guam?
I would say yes, breastfeeding on Guam is the norm but it’s almost always combined with formula feeding and many women feel discouraged early on and stop before they meet their breastfeeding goal. The lactation support on Guam is very limited as well. I am one of about four trained lactation professionals, but the only one offering home visits and one-on-one lactation support.
Many women here don’t feel comfortable exposing themselves in front of strangers (understandably), which makes it very difficult for them to seek help from the support groups or a hospital staff member. A large part of what I do is build trust and familiarity with women on island so that once they do become pregnant and give birth they feel comfortable reaching out to me for support. This is the reason I started my Instagram account. My goal is to be transparent and allow women to get to know me so that they feel a connection even before we meet.
You’ve recently become a Lactation Educator, congratulations! What inspired you to pursue certification as a breastfeeding educator?
Thank you. I completed my training as a Lactation Educator Counselor through UC San Diego in December 2013 and it all stemmed from the birth of my first daughter Ezra. Around the time that she was 8 weeks old she just completely stopped latching onto my breast. Up until that time our breastfeeding journey had been completely uneventful. So, when this happened I was in terror. I had no idea what was happening and I didn’t have a lactation professional to call. I eventually learned that the closest one was 2 hours away in San Juan, the capital. We lived in Aguadilla, on the west coast. So my husband and I reached out to our doula and my daughter’s pediatrician. They were amazing! They both helped us figure out that she was experiencing lots of gas and that babies won’t feed when their tummies are already full. But throughout the whole experience there was a slight language barrier with our pediatrician, and our doula had limited breastfeeding knowledge that added more complexity to an already stressful situation.
At that point I told myself that there must be other expat mamas in my exact same situation all around the world. Either they were in an area that lacked lactation support or didn’t have access to English speaking support. I vowed to do all that I could to reach and help those women. After doing some research I came across Natureal Mama’s site and Erica Chidi Cohen and discovered UC San Diego’s, Certified Lactation Educator Counselor program. This 3 month long program was unlike any of the other counselor programs I’d seen. I enrolled and the rest is history.
When did you find the time to study towards your certification in-between taking care of the girls?
My husband’s support has been key. While enrolled in the course I would go to a hotel just around the corner from our home every evening for about 3-4 hours to study and complete assignments. This was really great for me. It not only gave me the knowledge I wanted to transform women’s breastfeeding experience from painful and lonely to enjoyable and connected, it also added to my sense of self and gave me additional purpose that many times can get muddled or lost for women as we focus so much attention on caring for our children.
What do you hope to achieve in your work as a Lactation Educator Counselor?
My goal as a Lactation Educator is to provide unprecedented individualized lactation education and coaching to women all around the world. I want every woman I support to feel catered to, understood, and unique. I believe the key to really helping a woman be successful with breastfeeding is recognizing the individual needs of her, her baby, and her particular work/life situation.
What is your favorite breastfeeding book for mothers?
Where are you from originally?
I love and hate this question, simply because it can be very confusing but also sparks great conversation. So, I officially have no hometown. I was born in Oceanside, CA where I lived for a few months before moving to Guam. Yep, I lived here previously for a short stint as an infant. My mother was in the Navy for over 20 years and we moved anywhere from every year to every 3 years growing up. The longest place I lived was Naples, Italy and that was for 3.5 years. My mom asked her command to allow us to stay a bit longer so that I could graduate from high school. We were originally planning to move in the middle of my senior year. At 17 years old I enlisted into the U.S. Coast Guard and became a Health Services Technician where I moved around and traveled quite often.
Wherever I’m currently living though I make my home. I always jump in with both feet, inviting prospective friends out for coffee and over for dinner. People often comment saying that I’m very outgoing, and I am, but really it’s a required skill for a nomad like myself. If I didn’t quickly give my all and open myself up to new people I’d have a hard time making friends and really experiencing the location I was living. Because of this I’ve become the ultimate networker. I can spark up a conversation with pretty much anyone and connect two people from seemingly very different walks of life.
Do you have anything exciting on the horizon?
Well, I recently launched my new site www.AnjelicaMalone.com. My goal is to use this platform to connect with and inspire a global tribe of women to embrace one another, be encouraged throughout their unique motherhood journey, and share about culture through articles, recipes, interviews, and fashion. I absolutely LOVE connecting with women and I really hope my site will be the beginning of doing this on a large scale.
Big thanks to Anjelica for sharing her journey!
All photos courtesy of Anjelica Malone