Expert Spotlight: Rachel Ford

Cat Prestipino
5min read

We have so many incredible healthcare experts on our platform with a wide variety of skills. We caught up with one of them, Rachel Ford, a registered nurse who specialises in lactation, sleep and settling up until 4 years old, development and milestone check ins, tantrums and toilet training.

Hi Rachel 👋 Nice to meet you. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m Rachel Ford. I am forty-seven years of age and I have two adult children and two cute dogs.

I love the beach and you’ll find me there any free time I have. I love skiing as well. Traveling is something I love to do and I’ve just returned from a seven week trip through Europe. So beautiful!

So why did you become a registered nurse?

The truth is it was the only thing I got into. I always wanted to do some type of job that was with people and helping them. Divine intervention knew that nursing was the job for me and I have loved it ever since.

You specialise in a lot of areas to do with new parents and children. Why did you choose to specialise with families?

I was in age care for thirteen years prior to re-training to work with children and families. I loved working in aged care, but I have always volunteered with children and I love babies and I decided it was time for a change eleven years ago.

I love seeing families thrive and parenting become a joy. I truly feel honoured to be invited into families’ lives with support like breastfeeding, sleep and settling, toddler years and all the challenges they bring with them.

What does the average day of a registered nurse look like?

Two days are never the same in my week. I am a jack of many trades. I work on central intake some days and support families over the phone, I can work in breastfeeding support another day, run mothers groups on other days, then a home visit and some days I see up to eight clients in the office. I love the different jobs. It keeps me on my toes and work exciting.

Why did you choose to join Caia?

The opportunity arose to join the team and I thought that it is a great service that we can provide the community. Sometimes parents just want to talk to someone who is a trained professional with years of experience and not have to leave your home to do it.

For me, the flexibility of being able to work from home is amazing. In general I think this service can provide amazing support for families in remote areas and as well in a situation where it is hard to leave the home. I’m so excited to be apart of the team.

One of your specialities is lactation. What are the most common problems women come to you with?

The most common things are:

Women worry that their babies are not getting enough breast milk in a feed;

Attachment and pain during breastfeeding;

Frequent breastfeeding and concern about their supply;

General knowledge about if they are doing it right.

What extra support can a lactation consultant provide?

I think the biggest thing is being there for the client - supporting them and being a cheerleader.

Breastfeeding is a hard thing to master and just knowing a few tricks positioning of mother during the feed, as well as the baby, can be all the mother needs to feel more confident in her breastfeeding journey.

I always incorporate education about babies development and what to expect next. Sleep, settling, feeding and how they all need to be looked at all together.

You’re also a sleep coach for children up to 4 years old. What are your top tips for getting toddlers to sleep?

Toddlers know how to work the system of life. It’s their job. They need parents and carers to set clear boundaries for them at sleep time day and night. They need us to be consistent and persistent so they feel safe and know what is coming next. They will appear to not like the changes that are going to occur, like not being read ten books before bed, having you cuddle them till they are asleep and then even end up in your bed during the night.

My tip is when you start the bed time change explain the process to your child from the beginning of your night time pattern like Tommy it’s going to be bed time soon. We are going to have a bath and you can play and have fun. After the bath remember we have a cuddle, a drink and we read three books. Then I’m going to give you a kiss and a cuddle and I am going to walk out and you are going to stay in your bed because your a big boy and so clever and it’s time to learn how to do this on your own. I’m so proud of you.

As each step starts and ends, tell them the next steps that are going to occur until the end. Walk out shut the door (or whatever you want to do) and then you need to be persistent. No extra cuddles, no extra books, no extra drinks, etc.

The toddler has a great list of needs that can appear to need once they get into bed. Tag team if you have support. It will be a few days to a week of your child learning the new process but they will know who is the weakest link and they will work on that person to cave in. They are so clever. Don’t give in. You can do it.

Thanks so much for the advice!