We are thrilled to continue our Supermom Spotlight Series! Each episode we sit down with an inspiring supermom and dig into her story. From birthing experts and entrepreneurs to philanthropists and everyday moms, we aim to enlighten and empower the Supermom in all of us with each story.
For our latest Supermom Spotlight, our own Jenn Freedman, founder of Plant Powered Livin', chatted with Katy Bourzikas, child sleep training expert and founder of Well Rested Wee Ones. As a new mom, Katy experienced many of the same struggles that her clients do, with life’s stresses combined with the lack of sleep impacting her mental and physical health. Sleep training her children made such a positive impact on her family that she expanded her career focus beyond pediatric nursing and became a sleep consultant and breastfeeding counselor as well.
Here is our interview with Katy...
We love to ask all of our Supermoms this simple question: Can you tell us about your breastfeeding journey?
I had two completely different breastfeeding journeys! My first baby latched well and I established a great supply. I did experience some postpartum anxiety/depression and felt anxious knowing I was the person he was dependent upon for feeding. He took to a bottle well and my husband started to help with bottle feeding after I started to pump. I attended a weekly breastfeeding support group and connected with many mamas that encouraged me and answered my questions. Despite this support, I went back to a full-time, demanding job seeing multiple patients a day and was struggling to find the time to pump and keep up with my work expectations. My breastfeeding journey ended when my son was about 4 months old.
With my second, I was more educated and open-minded about my experience. I had a 21-month-old at home and tried not to stress about how I fed my newborn, which helped me tremendously. I noticed he had a tongue-tie quickly after birth and had an ENT clip it a few days later. I pumped every day in the car to and from work, over lunch, and before bed to keep up my supply. I successfully breastfed him for 8 months! Despite having no issues, I slowly made the transition to formula: it was the best decision for me at the time. I am still proud of this journey because of how many hours I put into pumping when I was away from him.
You have a variety of credentials/specialties, from nursing to sleep training to breastfeeding. Tell me about your professional journey...what was first, next...? How/when did you decide to specialize in these related fields?
I have worked as a pediatric nurse for 15 years, the last 6 as a pediatric nurse practitioner.
After sleep training my first baby at 4 months, I quickly became a reference to many friends with sleep questions. In 2018, shortly after having my second baby and sleep training him, I started working as an expert advisor for Hatch Baby, answering parent's feeding and sleep questions through their app. I absolutely loved helping parents!
In 2019, I decided to obtain my breastfeeding counselor certification as well as my baby and toddler sleep consultant certification to help me start my own consulting business. I use both of these certifications every day in my practice as a nurse practitioner (NP) and when helping families 1:1 with sleep coaching. I also use my breastfeeding counselor certification to help moms with tongue ties and feeding challenges as a NP.
When did you launch Well Rested Wee Ones? Is this your full focus these days? Do you use your expertise in breastfeeding in this business?
I launched Well Rested Wee Ones in the fall of 2019 and I manage all aspects of the business. I continue to work 2 days a week as a NP as well.
My breastfeeding expertise is extremely valuable when working with families for sleep coaching. I am able to provide education and support to breastfeeding moms for weaning overnight feeds, managing supply, pumping, etc.
In reading your website I see that you customize a sleep plan for each child. I know many moms (like me) have read about various approaches to help our babies sleep...can you tell us a little about what method(s) you pull from?
I personalize plans based on the baby's age, temperament, parenting philosophy, and current sleep challenges. I use a variety of methods when putting together a plan to ensure each family will be well-rested at the end of my support.
All methods include some form of reassurance and checking in. Sleep coaching is much more than a method...it's about the set up, routine, transitioning away from sleep habits, support, and consistency. I follow a stepwise approach (i.e. progressing in stages), focusing on overnight sleep first, followed by naps. We ensure the baby is meeting his/her caloric needs and has an appropriate daytime schedule before getting started.
By the end of our support, my goal is that the baby will be able to fall asleep on his/her own after being placed in the crib awake and will have learned self-soothing skills for both overnight sleep and naps. If a breastfeeding mom wants to keep an overnight feed, I will work with her to find the best solution to keep the feed and get the sleep you both need in between.
Has COVID-19 changed your business in any way?
COVID has actually increased my business dramatically. As everyone quarantined, and parents had to work from home, many parents needed help finding sleep solutions to ensure they could function as both a stay-at-home and working parent at the same time. I am able to provide all services virtually so COVID did not impact me like it did restaurants and other businesses.
Anything new on the horizon for you and Well Rested Wee Ones?
I am pondering starting a podcast! I used to be on my high school's radio and television station and loved producing content and interviewing people. I truly love helping others and I want everyone to have access to sleep coaching.
In addition, I am considering adding a lower cost sleep training option for parents. I am very cost-conscious; I have always budgeted for my own family. My thought is to make additional virtual options for parents who want a sleep plan at a lower price point that could be an instant download.
What an inspiring story by sleep specialist Katy Bourzikas. You can learn more about her sleep training services here. Stay tuned for the next episode of Supermom Spotlight, where we interview Charity Solberg; Baby Massage and Baby Wearing expert.