Our Team

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Robin Kaplan, M.Ed., IBCLC

Robin Kaplan is an International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), frequent media commentator on the topic of breastfeeding, and founding host of The Boob Group, a podcast about breastfeeding hosted on New Mommy Media. She launched the San Diego Breastfeeding Center in 2009 and is an established voice in the parenting world known equally for her knowledge about lactation and her commitment to supporting moms without judging them, a keystone of the SDBFC philosophy.

Robin completed her lactation consultant training and certification at University of California, San Diego. Intimately familiar with all things children and family, she also holds a Masters in Education from UCLA, a multiple-subjects teacher credential from UCLA, and a BA in Psychology from Washington University in St. Louis. Prior to working in the health field, she was an elementary school teacher and a museum educator at the San Diego Museum of Art.

Robin is an active advocate for mothers and their legal right to breastfeed (to get legislative updates, please join our newsletter!).  She is a prolific writer and presenter on breastfeeding topics. She is also the author of Latch: A handbook for Breastfeeding with Confidence at Every Stage.

Robin offers in-person consultations for families in San Diego and throughout the world (via online). She enjoys working with families of all shapes and sizes, and SDBFC coaches birth mothers, as well as adoptive parents and lesbian partners, by offering education about induced lactation.

Robin lives in San Diego, CA with her two sons, Benjamin and Ryan, and their dog, Ellie. She loves cooking, traveling, hiking, going to the beach, social media, and teaching. 

Robin's Story:

 In 2005, I entered the full-time “profession” of motherhood. My son, Benjamin, was born in July 2005 and I knew that I wanted to breastfeed him. After 19 hours of labor, 2 ½ hours of pushing, and multiple bags of fluids, Benjamin and I did not get off to a great start with breastfeeding. After 4 days of frustration, I called a lactation consultant and had her come to my home to assess what I was and was not doing. After 90 minutes of supportive advice and guidance, Benjamin was latching and eating and I felt relieved and empowered. Fifteen months later, my LC returned to my home to assist me with breastfeeding Ryan, my new baby boy. Again, after the consultation I felt like a new woman…confident, relaxed, and empowered. This confidence continued even through infant reflux, an over-active letdown, persistent crying, and returning to work full time.
In 2008 I decided I wanted to help new moms feel confident and empowered, just as I had felt after my LC visited my home. As new moms, we are fragile, overwhelmed, and hormonal. Any difficulty can seem like an insurmountable task.
Yet, the assistance from a kind individual can empower us to successfully defeat any challenge. My hope is that I can provide that same compassionate, non-judgmental care for my new moms so that they will feel empowered in their ability to breastfeed.

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Melanie Cromwell, RN, IBCLC 

Melanie Cromwell is a Registered Nurse and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC).  After having Robin Kaplan as her Lactation Consultant with Melanie’s second child, Melanie decided to pursue her internship and employment with the San Diego Breastfeeding Center in November 2015. 

Melanie completed her lactation consultant training and certification at University of California San Diego. She also holds a Bachelor of Science from University of Basel, Switzerland and has her Registered Nursing license in California. She has worked for over 15 years as an RN in various clinical settings in the US, Switzerland, Germany, and India. She fell in love with breastfeeding after her first child was born and became interested in helping other moms with nursing after being helped with her breastfeeding struggles with her second child.

Melanie lives in San Diego, CA with her husband Matt, their four children -- Naomi, Noah, Norine, and Noelle -- and their four chickens and two cats. She loves cooking and baking; hiking and nature; good times with family and friends; traveling to Germany; and simple living.

Melanie’s Story

I had the privilege of delivering our first child in Germany before moving to the US. There, I had the amazing support of a wonderful midwife who prepared me well for labor and counseled me on breastfeeding my first child. Our firstborn fed easily. She was quite the nurser! She was the chubbiest baby I could imagine. We enjoyed a wonderful breastfeeding relationship for two years. 
Our second child’s nursing experience did not go as smoothly. Our second child was a cry baby, a typical colicky baby. Weeks 2-6 were particularly unbearable. We pushed through until my supply dropped when he was about 5 months old and I thought I was on the verge of starving my child. I was at the end of my rope. I finally called for help and contacted Robin Kaplan who I had heard of at a birth preparation class. She came to our house and we put together a plan for how to feed my boy and how to get my milk supply up and running again. After this heavy bump in the road, our second child and I we were able to enjoy breastfeeding for two years. 
Despite my preparation from our second child, our third child started off much bumpier. She was diagnosed with jaundice within days of her birth and we struggled through slow weight gain and a 24-hour hospital stay at 5 days of age. Again I contacted Robin, and again we worked things out, which firmly convinced me that breast feeding really can be encouraged and recouped in most cases.
When I first began working as a nurse, I never would have imagined that life would bring me to being a Lactation Consultant. But I know clearly now that motherhood and working my way through the struggles of breastfeeding my children helped me to fall in love with this new journey. I’m looking forward to helping mothers in their breastfeeding journey and seeing successes like I have seen myself.

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Anna Choi, IBCLC

Anna Choi is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), writer on the topic of breastfeeding, and advocate for breastfeeding families.

Anna completed her lactation consultant training and certification at University of California, San Diego. She also holds a Bachelors of Science in Psychology and a Bachelors of Arts in Political Science from University of California, San Diego.  Her interest in working with infants and children began during her undergraduate studies in Psychology when she chose an emphasis in child development, and her passion for helping breastfeeding mothers arose during her own breastfeeding journey.

Anna lives in San Diego, CA with her husband, Frank, and their three daughters, Piper, Paige, and Juniper. She loves traveling, hiking, reading, and going on adventures with her daughters.

Anna's Story:  

When I was pregnant with my first daughter, I knew I was going to breastfeed her. I was naive, however, in my thinking that everything would just happen naturally, and that I didn't need to "prepare" for breastfeeding. I didn't even take a breastfeeding class or read up on what to expect! Looking back now, with all the knowledge I have, I just can't believe the mistakes I made, not setting myself up for success. My husband and I did so much to prepare for the birth: two separate hospital tours, a six week hospital birth class, a twelve week Bradley Method birth class, and a CPR refresher course. Breastfeeding though, I barely thought about it. Needless to say, when my daughter was born, I was ill-equipped to help her breastfeed. I didn't know what to look for in a latch, I wasn't certain how long or how often I should feed her, and I thought the excruciating pain I often felt during feedings was normal. We fumbled our way through the first month and she gained weight fine and my breasts survived. However, it all started to go downhill around the 4-6 week mark when her feedings became increasingly short, her weight gain slowed, and her colicky behavior intensified. As a new Mama, I had no idea where to find support. I took my daughter to her pediatrician, to urgent care, and finally to the ER, because I had no idea who to go to for help with breastfeeding. None of these visits helped us and I was told, "she's not losing weight, babies cry, she's fine." My instincts told me otherwise. Finally, I remembered that I had the business card of an IBCLC who had come to our Bradley Birth class and I called her for help. I can honestly say, she saved our breastfeeding relationship.

After my experience breastfeeding my first daughter, I was impassioned! When my daughter was a little over a year old, I began to research how to become an IBCLC and everything began to fall into place. I really felt as if I had finally found my calling in life. I enrolled in the Lactation Consultant program at University of California, San Diego and loved every minute of it. My internship experience confirmed my desires to be in this line of work and when I passed my board exam, I could not have been happier! Eight days after finding out that I passed my board exam to become an IBCLC, I gave birth to my second daughter. Needless to say, my breastfeeding journey with her was night-and-day different than the journey my first daughter and I took. I knew about all of the great resources available to us, I knew what to expect, what was "normal" versus what was cause for concern, and I was so much better prepared. When we needed help, I got it.

I am thankful for both of the breastfeeding experiences I have had and know that they've made me a compassionate and determined IBCLC. I want to help every breastfeeding woman I meet surpass her breastfeeding goals!


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Debbie Murai, RN, BSN, IBCLC

Debbie Murai is a Registered Nurse and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). Debbie completed her lactation consultant training and certification at the University of California, San Diego. She holds a Bachelors of Science in Nursing from San Diego State University.  

Debbie lives in North San Diego County with her husband Mark, their youngest son Miles, and their dog, Yumiko. She enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, gardening, and knitting.

Debbie’s Story: 

When I was pregnant with my first child I was still in college.  I was so busy finishing up my last semester in school, I didn’t really think about preparing to breastfeed even though that was my goal.  When my son was born, I thought breastfeeding would come naturally.  It didn’t at all and we really struggled those first few weeks.  On my second day at home, my breasts became so engorged and painful and I didn’t know what to do. I was also in a lot of pain because his latch was very shallow.  I was even unsure how to hold him to breastfeed him.  Lactation consultants were not easy to find 27 years ago when I had my first baby so I called my obstetrician and pediatrician for help.  My pediatrician was a great help with my engorgement issue and with latching my baby.  Breastfeeding became much easier and we really got to know each other and get in sync. It was amazing to me how different my breastfeeding experiences were with each of my children.  My daughter was such a quick eater compared to my first son that I thought she was not getting enough.  But when I took her in for a weight check, she was gaining weight faster than my son did. When I gave birth to my third child my other 2 kids had the chicken pox.  I stayed with my parents for a week until they were no longer contagious, which was great because all I had to do was breastfeed. This really helped us connect and breastfeeding was much easier with him.
I had such great experiences breastfeeding my children, but many of my friends did not and they did not have anyone to turn to for help.  This is when I decided I wanted to focus on lactation as a profession.  About 10 years ago, I noticed UCSD was offering a lactation consultant program, but I was not able to attend at that time.  When my daughter started attending UCSD herself, I saw they were still offering the program and was so excited because the timing was right for me to begin my training.  From the first day of my classes and internship I knew I made the right choice to follow my passion in becoming a lactation consultant.

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Nicole Kreps, RN, BSN, IBCLC 

Nicole Kreps is a Registered Nurse and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC).  

Nicole received her Bachelors in Nursing from San Diego State University in 2005. While in nursing school she held an internship on a labor and delivery unit. After graduation she worked as an RN in the emergency department, intensive care unit, recovery room and as a critical care transport nurse. After having children of her own she went on to complete her lactation consultant training and certification at the University of California, San Diego, including clinical training at the Kaiser Outpatient Breastfeeding Clinic.

Nicole lives in Bay Park with her husband, Jeremy, twin boys, Logan and Bryce, and daughter Mackenzie.  She spends her free time hiking, camping, backpacking, enjoying the beach, embarking on adventures and attending her children’s soccer, baseball, karate and dance activities.

Nicole’s Story:  

I became the mother of twin boys in 2011. My pregnancy had gone smoothly, the nursery was all set up, and I was eager to give birth. Though my delivery didn’t unfold in alignment with my birth plan, I couldn’t have been happier to be holding my two sweet baby boys in my arms.

However, when it came to breastfeeding my babies, those first few days in hospital were grueling and I continued the struggle to learn to breastfeed on my own at home. By the time my twins were 2 weeks old I was in excruciating pain, my babies were not growing, and I was physically and emotionally exhausted.

As determined as I was to breastfeed my babies, I had completely lost my way. After the birth not going as planned, and then the feeding not going as planned, I felt like a failure as a new mother and was devastated. To make matters worse, I was starting to slip  into a black hole of postpartum depression. On the verge of giving up all hope on being the breastfeeding mom I had envisioned myself to be, I remembered that I’d been given the phone number of a lactation consultant whom I had met through my childbirth class.

My lactation consultant was a beacon of light in the darkness of early motherhood. She identified tongue ties in both of my boys and helped me develop a plan to get my breastfeeding on track. Through her mentoring, guidance, and unrelenting support, I successfully breastfed my boys until just before their second birthday, at which time they self-weaned, which worked out perfectly because by then I was seven months pregnant with my daughter. I am forever grateful for the encouragement and understanding, and for the wisdom my lactation consultant imparted to me. Through effective techniques and persistence she set me on a path to not only meet, but exceed my breastfeeding goals. She also connected me with other resources, a network of professionals and other supports, but she, herself, was the linchpin to my success.

This life-changing experience inspired me to become a Certified Lactation Educator Counselor (CLEC). I wanted to be for other nursing mothers what my lactation consultant was for me--a lifeline, that beacon of light. During my pregnancy with my daughter, I began my education for my CLEC certificate. That education combined with the mentorship I received from my lactation consultant allowed me to enjoy a very successful and fulfilling breastfeeding experience with my daughter. Even though she was my third child and I had all that education and experience behind me, I still needed some help. With just a few minor tweaks my journey went much more smoothly.

When my daughter was two years old, I finally went back to school to complete my coursework and successfully pass my test in order to obtain my credential as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). To give a bit more background, I have spent my career taking care of people. As an RN with a BS in Nursing, I have over 12 years experience as an ER, ICU, and recovery room RN. Caring for others is what I was born to do. It is my calling. Having children of my own helped me find a passion for lactation support, education, and advocacy. I would not be the mother I am today without the help of a lactation consultant. I have since vowed to one day be like her, offering my services  to mothers in need of help. I intend to pay it forward by helping you, by throwing  you that lifeline that once saved me.


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Michelle Clookie, CLEC, IBCLC intern

Michelle Clookie is a Lactation Consultant intern, waiting to take her board exam in October, 2018.  Michelle has 10 years of non-profit leadership experience, working at the American Cancer Society for 8 years as a Director in their National training and development department, and most currently oversees the Postpartum Health Alliance programs. Michelle has a deep passion for developing and facilitating dynamic trainings that leave people empowered, equipped and supported.After overcoming unique breastfeeding challenges with both her daughter, Charlotte, and her son, Beckett, Michelle decided to take her love for training and development and pursue lactation education. 

Michelle earned a Bachelors of Science from California Baptist University. She also has several training certifications that include Myers Briggs and Strengths Finders. In her free time Michelle likes to cook, ferment everything and spend time outside with her super fun husband, Jeremy, and their two kids. 

Michelle currently co-hosts SDBFC’s Wednesday breastfeeding support group and is a board member for the San Diego Breastfeeding Center Foundation.

Michelle's story:

I am an advocate for normalizing all things motherhood! I am a firm believer in community, and spend both my professional and personal time working to love and support mothers and families on their parenting journey. My hope is that one day we will steer completely away from the idea that parenting is done by ourselves alone in our homes. We need a village! My goal as a CLEC is to normalize the struggles of motherhood, provide support for baby AND for Mama by giving solutions that work for the individual and family unit. The most nourished babies are those that are loved by supported parents. I look forward to meeting you!

 


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Ashley Tehrani, LEC

Ashley Tehrani is a lactation educator counselor and SDBFC’s social media coordinator.  Ashley is a native southern Californian; she grew up in Wildomar, CA and moved to San Diego in 2008 to attend San Diego State University.  She holds a Bachelors of Arts degree in Communication with a minor in World Religions.  Ashley is a new(ish) mom and has been passionate about breastfeeding since having her first child.  She has recently begun course work at University of California, San Diego to become an IBCLC. 

Ashley currently co-hosts SDBFC’s Wednesday breastfeeding support group. 

Ashley's Story: 

I am thrilled to be joining the San Diego Breastfeeding Center to support our local families.  When I had my baby girl, I was so fortunate to have expert help with breastfeeding while in the hospital.  I was even more fortunate to find the San Diego Breastfeeding Center for continued support and expertise as my baby grew and our breastfeeding journey evolved.  Realizing that there are so many other women who are not given the support they need or able to find local resources on their own has driven me to begin the path towards becoming an IBCLC.  I look forward to what this journey has in store for me!