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Q&A with Saro Ganeshapillai

Toronto, August 8, 2017

By Emily Holton

Saro Ganeshapillai, lactation consultant, Obstetrics
Saro Ganeshapillai, lactation consultant, Obstetrics (Photo by Katie Cooper)

Saro Ganeshapillai is a board-certified lactation consultant in St. Michael’s postpartum unit as well as our new St. Michael’s Hospital/Toronto Public Health Breastfeeding Clinic.

Q. What is a lactation consultant? What do you do?
A lactation consultant is a trained professional who helps mothers understand the health benefits of breastfeeding, assists them with learning how, and supports them through any breastfeeding challenges and issues that may come up. When I work with moms and babies, I make sure the baby’s latch is OK and I watch to make sure they’re sucking and swallowing enough milk. I also teach moms how to check these things herself, at home. Sometimes a mom has an issue with her nipples or baby has sucking issues, and they need a different technique. A lot of my job is just helping moms believe that they can do it. However, if it turns out that a mom or baby can’t breastfeed, or it’s not right for mom, I respect that and we work together to come up with an alternative plan.

Q. Why did you choose to focus your career on promoting and supporting breastfeeding?
I started out as a pediatric nurse and then started working with babies. Then I realized that breastfeeding is a preventative measure for families and for societies, in terms of public health. When I help moms with breastfeeding, I’m helping babies get a good start right from the beginning. Sometimes the mothers I see are really upset; their babies are losing weight and they come to the clinic crying – they don’t know what to do. So when I see them happy and doing better at the next visit, or they email me later to tell me how much I helped them, that really makes my day. This job is so rewarding.

Q. Tell us about the new breastfeeding clinic.
We opened the clinic on May 1, in partnership with Toronto Public Health. We’re open five days per week on the 4th floor of 61 Queen. Mondays and Wednesdays are for walk-ins, and the rest are by appointment. We did a survey of our walk-in clinic patients and so far we have 99 per cent satisfaction! They’re so happy with our service.

Q. Do you have any summer vacation plans?
My brother lives in Europe, so I’m going to visit him in September. I usually love a beach vacation, but this time I decided to go for a different experience: Switzerland and the Alps!

About St. Michael's Hospital

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in more than 29 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the Hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael’s Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.