Breast friend

Robin Hollen

A certified lactation consultant for the past 20 years, Robin Hollen started Starfish Lactation in September. It offers expert advice and holds a weekly breastfeeding support forum inside Hollen Financial Planning at 4741 Caughlin Parkway, Suite 3. (The next one will be Feb. 15 at 11 a.m.) Call her at 240-9916, visit, or become Facebook friends with “Nevada Breastfeeds.”

Tell me about Starfish Lactation.

Part of what we see in the community is there’s a small percentage of moms that get to a point where they’re not getting answers, and they’re having real problems. I sublet space to be able to see those moms. In addition to that, I hold a forum—we don’t want to call it a group because there’s baggage with that word—as an opportunity for moms to get together and talk and share, and I can be very direct about giving information. But it’s not a consultation. We meet on Tuesdays from 11 to 12; and the first Tuesday of the month is 5:30 to 6:30 because the moms asked for that. …

What’s the law on breastfeeding in public in Nevada?

I would refer to, the state website with the specific language of the law. In general, the federal government [last March] said you have to allow women time and a place to pump. And the time didn’t mean extra time—maybe the mom has to come in 15 minutes early. But one thing the law specifically stated is it would not be a bathroom. We have found most employers want to help the mom. When the law was interpreted and the regulations were set, one of the regulations was it didn’t cover salaried employees—so that wiped out our teachers.

I often wonder, what do casino workers do, restaurant workers do, who want to pump breastmilk?

Moms are the most resourceful creatures because they’re moms, and they have to be. I know several stories—I always want to do a hero or awards thing, because they’ve gone above and beyond. The casino worker story that sticks out for me is of a single mom who was a casino dealer, and she had specific breaks. She would walk past the coffee place, grab a Styrofoam cup, go into the bathroom, hand express, and be back in her station in 10 minutes. She exclusively breast fed for a year. Teachers have pumped in closets, at their desks with the door locked. But mothers do what mothers have to do for this …

That said, wouldn’t there be more breastfed babies if there were better access to places to pump?

Absolutely. Many moms don’t get the information, let alone the moms who go back to work at four or six weeks at a restaurant. The other regulation is that it only applies if you have 50 employees or more. I don’t find that the employers try to make light of it. I think the new mom afraid of losing her job is not going to rock the boat. A lot of moms pump in their car. That’s their private place, where they’re freezing outside. … But, really—you have to make a law to allow women to pump at work? That will change as more moms are working. The American Academy of Pediatrics … recommended breastfeeding for the first year of life. That single declaration [lengthened the] time of moms breastfeeding. That was a major shift.

What are some of the common, most fixable problems?

Any problem that doesn’t have a true anatomical or physiological basis. Milk supply—I know moms believe it isn’t fixable. What I see is moms delay, delay, delay—‘tomorrow will be better … In breastfeeding, most problems are fixable if they’re fixed early. Breastfeeding is established in the first two weeks. There’s a story for every situation, but there are some moms who’ve declined an enormous amount, and they turn things around.