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How Do You Plan To Celebrate IBCLC Day?

IBCLC Day is March 7, 2012!  Whatever setting you work in and where ever you are in the world, as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant you assist families to make a difference for their infants and young children.

IBCLCs Make an Impact! Use this day to raise awareness and celebrate your value.

The International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA) web site has several resources for you to use and share as we celebrate our profession and the breastfeeding support and education we provide for those in our communities.

Looking for ideas on how to celebrate IBCLC Day?  The ILCA website hosts a press release, certificates for IBCLCs and Healthcare Providers, and a fabulous list of celebration ideas!  ILCA members also have access to additional IBCLC Day flyers, banners, and a graphic email signature.

How do you plan to celebrate this important day? 

Please share your ideas in the comment section to help inspire and celebrate your colleagues.


Assessing and Leveraging Learning Preferences to Optimize How We Help Mothers

Written by Diana Cassar-Uhl, IBCLC and La Leche League Leader

 “I see … “

“I hear you!”

“I got it.”

When we first meet a mother for a lactation consult, we’re working “on baby time!”  We are charged with assessment and education, developing individualized, practical solutions so mothers can be successful in their breastfeeding goals. We don’t have a lot of time to figure out how a mother learns best, but we have to make sure we present information to her in a way she understands and can use.  Determining how she learns is easy and the benefits are many.

As we define learning preference, we must consider how we collect information (input) and how we retrieve it.  Our senses of sight, hearing, and touch provide pathways for information collection; these three, with our senses of smell and taste to a lesser degree, offer modes for information retrieval (like when a particular scent rouses a memory of an experience).  Our own learning preferences affect how we communicate with and “teach” others; this affects how we work together.  We do not teach as we were taught, we teach as we, ourselves, learn.  An understanding of how our brains are working, in contrast to how others function similarly or differently, can enable us to establish rapport and work together effectively and compassionately.  This understanding can also help us more effectively help the mothers who seek our guidance.

Ideally, we are always using visual (sight), auditory (sound), and kinesthetic (touch and movement) modes of learning, to varying degrees, depending on the situation.  However, during periods of stress, our brains revert to their innate preferences.  It is possible to develop and sharpen our non-preferred modes of input and retrieval, but when we get to that consult, we are wise to figure out what mode our client prefers and do our best to gear our education to that informational pathway/sense.

To encourage a resourceful state, during which multiple modes of input can be employed, begin the consult by taking some deep, relaxing breaths with the mother.  As you listen to her explain why she’s sought your expertise, pay close attention to not only the content of what she’s telling you, but:

  • body language
  • speech patterns
  • word choices
  • eye movements

These representations will offer insight into how to best teach the mother and share information with her.

Visual learners are the most common.  They learn quickly and are also quick to recall information; they can remember information in any order.  Visual learners are often fastidious about grooming, clothing, and matching colors.  They are attentive to detail.  The visual learner will look at you while you are speaking.

A mother who prefers to learn in the visual mode:

  • Tends to sit still, uses fewer extraneous body movements
  • Speaks more rapidly
  • She might use words like: bright, clear, hazy, see, look, picture, imagine, color, focus, perspective, watch, notice

Our sense of hearing is the first sense that develops, before we are even born.  The auditory learner relies heavily upon her ears for imitation and creativity.  She needs to “begin at the beginning” when recalling information, and needs order and sequence to understand relationships of part to whole.  The auditory learner is often a slow reader, and when you’re speaking to her, she might focus on her baby or close her eyes, even though she is listening intently to you.

A mother who prefers to learn in the auditory mode:

  • Uses rhythmic physical movements and gestures (always metronomic and      repetitive)nodding of the head, finger tapping
  • Might tilt her head to one side when listening or speaking
  • Speech patterns are moderate and rhythmic to match body language
  • Auditory learners tend to be the most talkative
  • When thinking through a problem, she might make clicking sounds with her tongue/mouth
  • Auditory learners might use words like: hear, listen, resonate, ring, talk, sounds like, rhymes, sing, tone

The mother who seems compelled to begin her consult by showing you the problem rather than telling you about it is most likely a kinesthetic learner.  She never liked traditional school situations and prefers to be in motion in order to grasp your visual and auditory inputs.  She may change positions often and is eager to use her hands.

A mother who prefers to learn in the kinesthetic mode:

  • Rarely remains in one position for more than a few minutes
  • Enjoys motion so much and does not wish to make it “automatic” or rhythmic, so      will be in near-constant motion but erratically and not smoothly
  • Speech patterns are the slowest of the three learning styles, punctuated by hand      motions, head motions, or shifts in bodily stance; physical movements are intended to emphasize the meaning of words, full of variety and spontaneity
  • Kinesthetic learners might choose words like: grab, handle, touch, push, move, cold,      warm, embrace, soft, wrap my arms around; action words – get it, go for it, do it, make it

When we understand how a mother is collecting and recalling information, we can tweak our communication skills to match, and build rapport with that person.  Rapport allows us to develop trust, gain respect, “walk in another’s shoes,” and stretch our own viewpoints.  Then, we are able to gain credibility and work together for creative problem-solving.

Your communication is only as effective as the response you receive.

Once we know which learning mode a person prefers, we can cater to that. In so doing, we also may notice a subtle shift in our own perceptions of a situation.  By paying attention to body language, we find we put our arms, legs, and postures in similar positions as the mother.  After a few minutes of observing a mother’s movements, you might mirror the animated facial gestures of a kinesthetic learner, tilt your head to one side when conversing with an auditory learner, or mirror a more static face/eyebrow and eye movement with a visual learner.  Modulating our voice patterns – speed, rhythm, pitch, and volume – to match those of the mother we are helping will have the greatest impact on our sense of connection with her. The shape and modulation of a speech pattern is more important than the actual pitch (an adult male using the higher range of his voice when speaking with a 7-year old girl, for example). It is easy to match speed and volume closely, and we often do this subconsciously.  Finally, using words that mirror the predicates the mother chooses will be very effective.

Are you unsure about which mode of learning you prefer?  Let a few people who know you well read this blog post, and see what they think.  See if you can identify how your spouse, friends, and children learn.  At your next consult, try what you’ve learned here, and leave a comment if it changes anything for you.  Hopefully, you’ll be hearing lots of great feedback:

“She sees things like I do!” (visual learner)

“That IBCLC really resonated with me!”  (auditory learner)

“We feel exactly the same way!” (kinesthetic learner)

Resource: Bruckner, S. (1998). The Whole Musician: A Multi-Sensory Guide to Practice, Performance, and Pedagogy. Santa Cruz, CA: Effey Street Press.

Diana Cassar-Uhl, IBCLC and La Leche League Leader, enjoys writing to share breastfeeding information with mothers and those who support them.  In addition to her frequent contributions to La Leche League International’s publication Breastfeeding Today, Diana blogs about normalizing breastfeeding in American culture at and has been a guest blogger at Best for Babes and The Leaky Boob.  Diana can be found lecturing at breastfeeding education events around the United States.  She is pursuing a Master of Public Health, and upon graduation hopes to work in public service as an advisor to policymakers in maternal/child health and nutrition.  Mother to three breastfed children, Diana has served as a clarinetist on active military (Army) duty in the West Point Band since 1995.


Supporting Breastfeeding with New Technologies

A few months ago a story out of Australia caught my attention.  A research study conducted at Queensland University of Technology showed that new mothers who received cell-phone based text-messaging support (also referred to as SMS, which stands for Short Message Service) were four times less likely to stop breastfeeding than those who did not.  This collision of technology with nature’s perfect infant nutrition piqued my interest and I wanted to learn more (self disclosure – I’m a bit of a technophile).  While details of the study have not yet been published, I was able to talk with an IBCLC who uses SMS, as well as hear the perspectives of several nursing mothers.  This post is intended to share this story and also generate a conversation about what other practitioners have experienced using text-messaging to support breastfeeding moms.  Please join in the discussion!

An IBCLC’s Perspective

Robin Kaplan, IBCLC and founder of San Diego Breastfeeding Center, LLC, offers mothers the option to communicate with her via SMS after she conducts an initial in-home consultation.  She estimates that about 25% of her follow-up communication is through text-messaging, with some clients using it for 100% of their contacts.  The nature of Robin’s texts are primarily responding to questions from new mothers (moms can include a photo with the question to help in diagnosing some problems), as well as checking in with mothers to see how they are doing.  One of the benefits of text messaging is that it isn’t interruptive, like a phone call may be, and it can be managed from a time perspective (versus not knowing how long a phone call might last).  This seems to be important for new mothers, as Robin gets more responses from texting than she does from phone calls.  Texting is also conducive to the round-the-clock hours that nursing mothers keep.  “They can leave me information any time they want,” says Robin.  From a business perspective, she sees texting as time and cost-effective.  “It makes a lot of sense!”

Mothers’ Perspectives

“When you have a sleeping baby, or you’re just too tired to get into a long conversation, texting is so convenient,” said texting mother, Tracy.  “Robin was able to get straight to the point and offer quick responses to my questions, which were very helpful… Though some might think it’s impersonal, texting is still a conversation and a readily available one at that, I really appreciated the instant gratification.”

Adoptive mother, Danielle, said text-messaging support was a huge help in establishing her breastfeeding practice.  “The reason texting worked for me is that my consultant, Robin, was always quick to reply…  This [breastfeeding an adopted infant] is a new frontier and being able to text when your baby is asleep in your arms is so helpful…  For me, texting as opposed to verbalizing sometimes kept me a bit calmer. I always know I can call if I need to. The ability to have both options, however, was great.”

According to Erin, “Because newborns require so much attention around the clock, texting was the easiest form of communicating with Robin.  It allowed me to send her a quick message, an update or ask a question without regard to the hour or any of the long winded social niceties that a telephone conversation would require. By the same token, Robin was able to check in on my progress, offer much needed practical advice and soothe my worries with most welcome words of support.”

On the Bleeding Edge

How does text-messaging fit into healthcare privacy laws that might impact lactation consulting care?  This will vary country by country, and many governments are still trying to figure this out.  Robin said she is moving towards printing and then deleting text messaging conversations and adding them to patient records.  She deletes photos immediately.  Having a password lock on your phone is another measure of security.  It’s always important to get a mother’s consent before you begin sending text messages.

What has your experience been with adding text-messaging support to your lactation practice?  We’d love to hear your stories!

By Maryanne Perrin MBA, graduate student in Nutrition Science, and ILCA volunteer


IBCLCs Around the World – Natalya Razakhatskaya

I was born in Belarus in 1978. While in school, I wanted to be a doctor just like my granny. Later, I entered the linguistic university and became an interpreter. After graduation, I started to work in a French IT company as a translator, but that job didn’t make me happy. I was eager to be useful to people, so when I got pregnant I decided to change my job. As a breastfeeding mother, I had many questions about breastfeeding and care of my first baby. I didn’t receive helpful assistance from my pediatrician. Luckily, I met the first Belarusian lactation consultant at that time, who explained the simplicity of breastfeeding.  Soon, I decided to become a breastfeeding counselor in order to help other mothers feel happy.

The website was started in March 2008 as a personal blog, which my husband kindly gave to me as a present on Women’s Day. Gradually the blog was filled with articles about breastfeeding and natural parenting. At the same time, I began to meet with other breastfeeding mothers almost every week and the blog became a good place for communication. The blog became a unique community which, in addition to the forum, included a list of sites for women, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), and a photo-gallery and online consultations on various women’s topics. I made educational video clips about breastfeeding, and how to carry your baby in-arms and in a sling. After a few years of work on the blog, I managed to write and publish a book about breastfeeding, called “Breastfeeding: A Guide for Nursing Mothers”.

On average, about 5,000 people visit the website every day. The most popular articles are about normal infant weight gain, infant stooling, low milk supply, and how to transition the baby from artificial feedings to full breastfeeding. Each day, I reply to about 10 e-mails, and about the same number of comments to articles, forum posts and telephone calls.  Also, the website supports live chat and Skype. Occasionally, I organize free educational webinars. I continue to meet with forum members in person at family centers around Minsk and organize local breastfeeding support events.

To encourage breastfeeding in public, we have created a special project: At this website, you can download stickers of the international breastfeeding symbol and distribute them to cafes and other public places which are friendly to breastfeeding mothers.

The project is funded from personal sources. I’ve received voluntary donations from other breastfeeding support group leaders and breastfeeding mothers from the forum who help answer questions of other visitors. I am really amazed to read feedback from many countries and know that my project can help breastfeeding mothers all over the world.

The purpose of the project is to provide an informative resource about breastfeeding and natural parenting and to facilitate communication with other parents. I want to open a test center on this website, first for parents who are interested in breastfeeding, and then an educational platform for other breastfeeding specialists.

Natalya Razakhatskaya, IBCLC


Introducing One of Our Newest IBCLCs – Effath Yasmin

What inspired you to become an IBCLC?

Motherhood stirred my life in a direction that only bought more warmth and deep sharing of empathy all along. It has been a dream-come-true for me.

Becoming an IBCLC has been a natural progression similar to a tree growing deeper roots. Challenging breastfeeding experience drew me closer to La Leche League International. Being a Le Leche League Leader connected me with some wonderful people and this is the best thing that happened to me besides my husband. I had the opportunity to interact on a personal level with some of the eminent personalities in the Lactation field such Rachel Myr, Diana West, Gini Baker, Diana Cassar-Uhl, Katheleen Kendall-Tackett, Nikkie Lee, Jane Kershaw, Susan Burger, and Catherine Watson Genna among others. What most struck me about these people was their humility and humanness. I find them profoundly philanthrophical in their ideas and sharing of knowledge.

What were some of the highlights during your journey?

The use of technology which connected me the outside world, from my home, while I cared for my family is perhaps the biggest highlight.

4 years ago, as a mother with breastfeeding challenges and my quest for answers, carved a pathway to becoming a counsellor and an IBCLC. The highlight remains the clarity of thought and answers I finally uncovered about the challenges of my nursing. The road to this realisation hasn’t been easy for me but it strengthens my commitment to help the mothers who are seeking help.

What challenges did you face?

The uncertainty of being a committed La Leche League Leader who enjoyed volunteering my time and knowledge, and moving into a role of a professional lactation consultant. The differential roles, these two credentials, play in supporting a mother. The clarity of thought came during the endless conversations I had on the forum of Health-e-learning with Denise Fisher.

I perceived a possible conflict of interest in holding these two roles may be my biggest challenge as a Le Leche League Leader/Lactation Consultant, however this turned out to be the least of all challenges I have faced.

There were challenges with the IBCLC exam, as it included studying and getting to know about the different cases and familiarising oneself with different breast conditions even though it is quite difficult to practically have experienced all these conditions and scenarios. The other challenge was being the lone candidate from Mumbai and I did long for a partner to study with and a mentor.

What are you most excited about now that you are an IBCLC?

My approach or level of care to the mothers I help has not changed but being an IBCLC has given me a tremendous amount of confidence in the knowledge of clinical management of breastfeeding. This will translate as assurance in mothers I help and increase their trust in my ability to provide them breastfeeding support. I also feel empowered to help influence the belief and opinions around breastfeeding among young mothers for the better and the credential of IBCLC makes it easier to be heard and trusted. This is most true amongst the medical community and health care providers that I have and will be working with than the mothers I care for.

What questions would you like to ask your IBCLC colleagues who have been practicing for a while?

I would like to learn more about scope of practice in a hospital setup and level of follow-up. I would appreciate looking at samples of reports to be shared with clients or communication samples with other health care providers. It will be a big help to know more about managing and gathering funds to attend conferences, which I believe are a great source of learning and networking. Also an insight to involve health insurance for reimbursement for lactation care for clients will be helpful.

Effath Yasmin, MA,HDSE,CLEC(USA),IBCLC, is the founder of Nourish & Nurture Lactation Care & Parenting Solutions, a pursuit to becoming an outreach center for mothers and families who are seeking professional lactation support. She found herself transitioning naturally into a profession that enriches her role of a mother of 4 year old, Zaara. Yasmin naturally saw a calling and a desire to help other mothers in their journey of motherhood. She fervently pursued to become an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant specialising in clinical management of breastfeeding. She works towards providing high quality of care integrating in her plan of care approaches of nutrition, lifestyle and draws outcome from referred treatment therapies such as homeopathy, craniosacral therapy, acupressure, physiotherapy, and hypnotherapy towards solving and managing breastfeeding issues. Yasmin insists in recognising & acknowledging the psychosomatic factors & the impact of birth trauma in breastfeeding issues.

Yasmin is very passionate about her role as an accredited Le Leche League Leader  providing support and counselling to hundreds of mothers over the past years. She is also very enthusiastic about her affiliation with International Baby Food Action Network and applauds the work of IBFAN to promoting better standards of food for infants and young children. Yasmin supports and volunteer a significant amount of her time for the mission of Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India and Birth India for the cause of educating women of their childbirth choices and the direct impact it has on breastfeeding.


Mama Aroha means ‘mother love’ in Maori – New Zealand

Mama Aroha means ‘mother love’ in Maori. ‘Aroha’ can be interpreted as love, compassion, sympathise, and pity. It is this ‘aroha’ that drives most of us to do what we do. For the beautiful breastfeeding wahine (women) that we all work with, her ‘mother love’ that flows through her breastmilk not only provides nourishment, but also ‘aroha’ (love) for her baby

Imagine if every health worker provided every mother with consistent and accurate breastfeeding information.  Imagine then if that same mother received the same messages each time she came in contact with a different health worker.  Imagine if we provided this mother with all the necessary skills and knowledge she would need to continue to breastfeed her baby.  Imagine if she could then pass this knowledge and skills onto her friends and family.

It has been this vision that has inspired me, and given me the drive, to develop a new resource that makes breastfeeding simple, interesting and accurate for our 21st century mothers. These ‘talk cards’ were launched in August 2011 at the New Zealand Lactation Consultant Association Conference.

Almost two years ago while I was running a breastfeeding drop-in centre in the community,  I would often find myself scribbling diagrams on bits of paper while I was talking my way through the mother’s issues as this was the most effective way to get information across. Traditionally for Maori, we are an oracle culture who can often catch on quickly and easily when the information is explained verbally.  In fact studies have shown that only 10% of all adults retain information by reading it, while 70% learn through participation in a discussion. Yet, while I was working in the Maternity Unit as a midwife I found there was a lack of resources that suited this type of learning. We needed something that could be used while sitting with the mother ‘talking’ about breastfeeding.

Over the past two years I have continued to help breastfeeding mothers in the community, worked as a BFHI coordinator, set up a peer counselling programme, and became a Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). But my biggest qualification in life is being a mother of four young children. I am still breastfeeding my nine month old baby and find most of my inspiration while I am up feeding him in the early hours of the night.

What makes these ‘talk cards’ unique is that they have been developed at a grassroots level, they are New Zealand-owned and have been made with no other intention other than to help breastfeeding mothers of all cultures reclaim ownership of the knowledge and skills that are necessary to breastfeed a baby. The beautiful mothers and babies that are featured in the cards have been very much a part of the process. These cards have come from the women, this is what they want, and this is what works for them. I have seen with my own eyes how much impact they can have on a mother and her family.

It has been a long process with no sponsorship or funding and there have been many times that I have wanted to give up. There has never been any project planning, just inspiration! So I had to finish what I had started. However, it is the vision to help mothers understand breastfeeding that has kept me going, kept me motived. I often ask myself, “Has this been worth it?” When a mother looks at the cards and has a ‘light bulb’ moment, when I hear her passing on what she has learned to her family, when I see her feel empowered by this knowledge…I can say, “Yes, it has all been worth it.”

“I’m a busy mum of four young children which has given me my biggest qualification in life! “ Written by Amy Wray, BM, IBCLC, PCPA

Lactation Matters co-editor, Decalie Brown, adds …..This was Amy’s very first conference she had presented at, as her family championed her in the background. A loud call to her from the back stalls of the room was her baby being minded by her sister. Amy responded with a  nod as she calmly picked her baby.  There was a scurry towards the stage to produce a chair, where she sat and calmly breastfed her baby , completing her presentation to the ‘oh’ of the audience.   It was a truly magical moment, Amy!


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