Archive | IBCLCs in the News

How IBCLCs Can Make an Impact Through Social Media

Written by Robin Kaplan, M.Ed., IBCLC

With 93% of adults born after 1982 (the Millennial Generation) communicating online and nearly 3 out of 4 using social networking websites, such as Facebook and Twitter, breastfeeding promotion and support has been taken to an entirely new level. In the Journal of Human Lactation article, Establishing an Online and Social Media Presence for Your IBCLC Practice, authors Amber D. McCann and Jeanette E. McCulloch, present findings that encourage all of us in the breastfeeding community to step into the minds of these Millennial mothers and engage with them about breastfeeding in their preferred medium.

Why does breastfeeding promotion and support need a social media presence?

While health care providers continue to be the first choice for most people with health concerns, 80% of US Internet users have sought health advice online.  Plus, 44% of US women spend more time online after a new baby is born.  We live in an amazing time where we can find answers online in an instant when we used to have to wait until our doctor’s office opened the next morning.  The scary side of this is that there is so much misinformation online about breastfeeding and how easy it is for mothers to access this incorrect advice. Even formula companies have breastfeeding advice sections on their websites… this is NOT where new mothers should be receiving their evidence-based breastfeeding information and support….right next to a Enfamil advertisement!

Also, with breastfeeding being such a HOT TOPIC in the news, mothers are often bombarded with this negative press.  It goes viral in an instant!  The Time Magazine article, ‘Are You Mom Enough‘ and Mayor Bloomberg’s initiative to ban the formula bags in all New York City hospitals flooded the Internet and social media networks in record time.  Negative comments about breastfeeding were abundant!  While Best for Babes and Kellymom are doing all they can to turn this bad breastfeeding press into something positive, they need our help to further provide breastfeeding education and support online.

So where are these Millennial mothers and what are they doing online?

The four most dominant social media platforms are Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and Pinterest. What these platforms have in common is that they ALL promote engagement among Internet users.  This is not like reading a book for information, which is a one-sided conversation.  Using social media allows you the ability to comment, ask questions, and agree/disagree with the author and other commenters.  It’s a conversation.  When a mother posts a question on a Facebook page, she is actively seeking advice from her peers or an ‘expert.’  When a mom reads a blog article, she is looking to make connections with the author to help make sense of her world and often seek advice on a particular topic.  Twitter is all about conversation and engagement and Pinterest is now a hub for articles and driving more traffic to websites than Facebook.  We may not live in a village anymore, but the Internet is revitalizing the village mentality.  It’s all about the need for support and belonging.

How can an IBCLC use social media effectively, without feeling like it is a waste of his/her time?

  • Creating a social media plan can be extremely helpful or you might find yourself being led down the time-sucking social media rabbit hole.  As McCann and McCulloch suggest, create a plan that is appropriate for the size of your business or organization.
  • Decide who your target audience is and the purpose of your engagement.
  • Choose a social media platform or two that you feel is manageable and decide how much time you plan to dedicate to it a week.
  • Spend some time just watching and listening.  You will figure out pretty easily what your audience is looking for.
  • Keep in mind that social media is all about sharing information. While you don’t want to give away everything you know, the more information you benevolently share online, the more appreciative your audience will be and encouraged to return to your platform in the future.  You may have the chance to influence the greater masses with your positive messages about breastfeeding!

What about ethical concerns and client/patient confidentiality?

McCann and McCulloch stress the importance of upholding our Code of Professional Conduct, Scope of Practice, and Standards of Practice.  The authors state that while these documents ‘do not contain a specific social media policy, IBCLCs may want to review the American Medical Association’s Policy on Professionalism in the Use of Social Media’.

As an avid blogger and social media user, I have a phrase that I use very regularly when I receive a comment or question that takes information from general breastfeeding advice to specific for one mom and baby and it goes something like this…. “It definitely sounds like you have some very important questions that would be best answered in a private conversation with an IBCLC.  If you would like to discuss this further, please contact me at …..”   This lets the mother know that I would love to help her, but this is not the appropriate place to discuss private, personal information and I want to protect her privacy.

So, even if you feel like you are not Internet savvy and social media gives you hives, all you have to do is start off slowly.  Lurk a little on these social media platforms and just listen to what mothers are saying and asking for.  Check out the Lactation Matters article, Great Breastfeeding Blogs to Read, and start sharing these articles on a social media platform.  Begin a conversation on a Business Facebook page and see where it takes you.  My guess is that you quickly see your calling to offer breastfeeding-supportive and evidence-based guidance to our Millennial mothers.  And you never know… you might just have a ton of fun, as well!

Robin Kaplan received training to be a Certified Lactation Educator and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant from UCSD. She 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, MO. In 2009, Robin started her own business, the San Diego Breastfeeding Center, where she offers in-home breastfeeding consultations, free weekly support groups, breastfeeding classes, and online support through her business blog.  In addition to her private practice, Robin was the founding Co-editor of theInternational Lactation Consultant Association’s (ILCA)blog, Lactation Matters, and a regular contributor toILCA’s E-Globe newsletter.  She also is the host/producer of The Boob Group online radio show and the Director of Marketing for NaturalKidz.com.  Robin lives in her native San Diego, where she enjoys cooking, hiking, trying new trendy restaurants, and traveling with her family.

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Breastfeeding Center of Pittsburgh’s Dr. Nancy Brent Named A “Pediatric Hero”

Dr. Nancy Brent, Medical Director of the Breastfeeding Center of Pittsburgh and a pediatrician at Kids Plus Pediatrics in Pittsburgh, has been named one of Baby Talk magazine’s seven national Pediatric Heroes for 2012. The award, announced at the recently concluded American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans, honors “the most innovative and inspiring doctors” in the country.

Dr. Brent was honored as a Pediatric Hero for her nationally acclaimed work in promoting and supporting breastfeeding, and in training physicians to do the same. A board-certified pediatrician since 1984 and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) since 1990, Dr. Brent has spent more than two decades at the forefront of Breastfeeding Medicine, leading the way both locally and nationally to bring critical, often hard-to-find services and support to breastfeeding mothers and babies, as well as to the doctors who care for them.

Ellen Rubin, an IBCLC who works at the Breastfeeding Center says,

“As a relatively new IBCLC, I could not have asked for any better opportunity than to work with Dr. Nancy Brent. She’s an an IBCLC-Pediatrician and an amazing teacher who always takes the time to share her knowledge and experience with me and the many residents and medical students who visit our clinic. Dr. Brent’s approach to breastfeeding is very well-rounded. While addressing each baby’s needs and well-being, she also takes into account each mother’s experience in the nursing relationship. Her medical expertise is a great asset, especially when babies are not gaining weight or are consistently fussy. So many complications are erroneously blamed on breastfeeding, and it makes a big difference when a medical professional can get to the root of a problem before breastfeeding is disrupted.”

Since 2006, Dr. Brent has served as the Medical Director of the Breastfeeding Center of Pittsburgh, the region’s leading resource for front-line breastfeeding medicine, support, and clinical care. Dr. Brent’s hard work and leadership have helped make the Breastfeeding Center of Pittsburgh a nationally recognized model in lactation services, and the first and only Advisor to the United States Breastfeeding Committee. Before joining Kids Plus Pediatrics and helping to create the Breastfeeding Center of Pittsburgh, Dr. Brent worked for 20 years in the department of Pediatrics at Mercy Hospital. During her time at Mercy, she created and directed the Maternal Infant Lactation Center, which provided patient care, research, and professional education for pediatric residents. Many of the pediatricians she trained in her time at Mercy are now her colleagues at Kids Plus: IBCLC pediatricians and a staff of Lactation Consultants who, under her direction, provide consults and medical care through the Breastfeeding Center of Pittsburgh.

Dr. Brent is a member of ILCA, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Academic Pediatric Association, the Pittsburgh Pediatric Association, and the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine. She is co-chairperson of the Allegheny County Breastfeeding Coalition and a member of the Pennsylvania Breastfeeding Coalition.

Join us in congratulating Dr. Nancy Brent, IBCLC for the stellar work she is doing to support mothers and babies!

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Our IBCLC Family is Growing!

Photo by sean Dreilinger via Flick Creative Commons

This week, health professionals around the world are finding out the results of the IBLCE examination to become an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. Let’s take a closer look at those five letters they’ll be adding to their credentials…

  • International – Our profession is made up of over 25,000 IBCLCs helping mothers and families in over 90 countries, from Argentina to France to the United Arab Emirates, and in between.
  • Board – A panel of global experts continues to develop curriculum and assessments to make sure we are trained and evaluated based on the latest scientific information in our field (and we are never “bored” because of this!).
  • Certified – We successfully completed rigorous training and clinical requirements and have demonstrated the competencies determined by our Board (see above).
  • Lactation – Finally, the word we’ve all been waiting for! We are passionate about the benefits of breastfeeding for the mother, her infant, and family.
  • Consultant – We educate, advocate, and advise to help families reach their breastfeeding goals.

ILCA is delighted to congratulate the world’s newest IBCLCs on their certification and to those who have recertified and continue in this great profession!

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Hats Off to Kentucky Educational Television for An Awesome Breastfeeding Panel Discussion!

Kentucky Educational Television (KET) is Kentucky’s educational television network with a mission of “educating, inspiring, informing, and connecting its citizens through the power of public media.” With Kentucky’s breastfeeding rates ranked 48th among states in the US according to the 2012 CDC Breastfeeding Report Card (59.4% ever-breastfed; 9.6% exclusively breastfed at 6 months), there is lots of opportunity to educate, inspire, and inform on this important topic. Check out the following trailer for the segment on YouTube.

KET took up the call for this year’s National Breastfeeding Awareness Month by airing a 28-minute segment on all things breastfeeding: benefits, barriers, laws, workplace considerations, hospital initiatives, cultural challenges, and more. The panel of breastfeeding gurus included Doraine Bailey, MA, IBCLC of the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department (and ILCA’s eGlobe editor), Jan Johnson, RD, IBCLC of the Pike County Health Department, and Cerise Bouchard, President of the Lactation Improvement Network of KY.

You can view the 28 minute segment HERE.

Kudos to KET for covering this important topic!  

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Just When You Didn’t Plan Anything for World Breastfeeding Week…..

World Breastfeeding Week brought about wonderful opportunities to engage with our communities about the incredible impact of breastfeeding.  This is one IBCLCs account of her thought process as she navigated doing a live, on-air television interview.

By Denise Altman, RN, IBCLC, LCCE

One day last week, after seeing my patients, I checked my messages and listened to one from a reporter wanting to ask me some questions about World Breastfeeding Week (WBW). My knee jerk reaction was either to not return the call-I had been at the beach for a week and was woefully behind-or hand her off to another IBCLC practicing in a pediatric office. However, I just don’t have it in me to pass up a marketing opportunity, so I called her back.

She sounded young, and was calling about WBW in general but she also wanted to know what exactly I do. She didn’t know much about the Affordable Healthcare Act but knew that there were parts that addressed breastfeeding . She wanted help with a story angle and maybe a live interview.

Story angle? Role of the lactation consultant? Oh yeah, this is worth pursuing.

I spent about ten minutes just talking, and hit her with enough stuff to get her excited. I
then added the suggestion of also having mama and baby on camera. Sold! She wanted a
live remote tomorrow morning at 7:30am. She had to confirm with her producer and I had to figure out how to mange this new activity on a full schedule, so we decided to touch base by phone at the end of the day.

After hanging up, I started thinking….who do I want?

I need a working mama who looks professional but not too “businessey”. Nice round happy baby who is easy going. Both available at short notice. Mama is willing to be primed and focused but can articulate well without script.

Wait a minute! I have a speech therapist in my patient population (this is why I always ask what people do for a living)! I remembered how she communicates, that she works with kids and understands the science as well as the parent perspective. Score!

Next, I have to decide on my two key points (one for each hand). This is my focus for every interview question so I stay on track.

Breastfeeding is Normal.
IBCLC are the Experts.

In between the mental gyrations, I have to do a home visit to see a mama, and of course, line up my on camera mama and consider back up. I emailed the reporter resources from the ILCA website such as What is an IBCLC?, How IBCLCs Make a Difference, and 10 More Reasons to Breastfeed. There is a ton of support materials already created and the added benefit is that the reporter knows then where to go for future stories or additional info. I also suggested live remote from chiropractor’s office where I do classes-it’s a thank you to the doc, plus the space is soothing and quiet, rather than a busy, cold newsroom. I sent a short list of common myths (along with truth statements) and recommended this as the focus of the interview.

Finally, I rearranged my patient schedule for the next morning. Then, I sent a “heads up”
on my personal social media outlets. I think I have done as much as I can, but there must
be something more.

Can I make this opportunity go further?

Once I called the reporter again about the final details, and then suggested that she
continue coverage for the full week. Then I pitched three additional story ideas with
contact info:

  1. A local NICU (the first or only in the state?) that has started using donor milk that has previously had an unheard of necrotizing enterocolitis rate.
  2. Healthy Carolina’s Lactation Program, which is helping to institute corporate lactation wellness program within our local university.
  3. Local Big Latch On event which could highlight lots of nursing mamas and babes in one handy spot.

After then phone call, I then gave various organizational contacts a heads up that TV reporter may call. Not only could they get positive exposure for breastfeeding support, but
is a great way to build or strengthen community relationships.

The night before, I didn’t sleep very well. I hate doing stuff on TV because my double chin always shows, and I tend to talk fast when I get excited about a topic. I decided to channel Leigh Anne O’Connor, who many private practice IBCLCs would vote “Most Likely To Get Her Own TV Show”! She is an IBCLC in New York who often appears in TV and radio spots. She always appears very calm and focused (maybe its her acting background).

In the morning, the reporter tells me that the producer has given not one, but two segments due to all of the good information she presented! I dressed carefully, trying to look both professional and approachable, wearing a pressed blouse with my business logo on it. When the mama arrived, we quickly discussed the focus for her-normal, working mother, benefits from professional standpoint as well as family focus. She nailed all of it, and the baby was so cute reaching for the mic, that I was hard pressed not to laugh through the whole thing. In my head, I repeated “Normal and IBCLC”.


As she was packing up, the young reporter told me she is one of 12 kids, all breastfed.
When she called home the previous night and shared what she was covering and why, her
mama told her she was proud of her for doing this kind of story.

The world is round.

Because of a call that I didn’t want to return, and a TV appearance I didn’t want to do,
breastfeeding support had a good day in South Carolina.

Denise Altman is a private practice LC in Columbia, South Carolina, USA, and author of two textbooks for healthcare professionals; “History and Assessment: Its All in the Details” and “Mentoring Our Future“. A frequent conference speaker, she enjoys sharing topics and stories “from the trenches”. Her professional picture has been photo shopped to remove her double chin. You can reach Denise at obrnmom@aol.com.

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