Lactation Matters is in the midst of a series of blog posts, from now until July when the 2013 exam to certify IBCLCs is given. As we seek to increase access to the services of IBCLCs, cheering on those who are taking up the challenge should be celebrated! If you are a 2013 exam hopeful and would like to share a bit with us about what inspired you to become an IBCLC, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My name is Brooke Smith. My journey to the IBCLC exam began when I was 18 when I read Babycatcher by Peggy Vincent chronicling the events of a midwife during the 1970s and 1980s and I was hooked! Despite being unmarried with no plans of having children of my own, I knew my destiny lay somewhere in maternal and child health, but I didn’t know how I wanted to articulate my desires, so they remained on the back burner until I was pregnant with my first daughter.
After giving birth to her and struggling with the new feelings of motherhood, the old surge of passion for maternal child health showed back up. While still passionate about birth as a whole, I had found that breastfeeding was what I really waxed poetic about. Like many new mothers, I struggled with breastfeeding at first, and I returned to full-time work at 6 weeks postpartum with my trusty breast pump, but I couldn’t get my mind away from breastfeeding. After spending my lunch hours pumping and obsessively reading breastfeeding blogs, I decided to make the jump into lactation care as a full-time career.
After giving birth to my second daughter, I quit my “day job” and enrolled in Union Institute and University’s Bachelor of Science degree program and I graduated with high marks a mere 15 months later. I gobbled up every paper, book, journal, and blog post I could devour. My thesis paper focused on the experience of working mothers and breastfeeding, something I remain passionate about advocating for even today.
I currently volunteer at two of our local WIC offices counseling mothers , teaching the breastfeeding and childbirth classes, and co-leading a monthly breastfeeding support group. No matter how tired I may be when I walk in, I walk out full of excitement, passion, and energy! I also volunteer as a co-chairperson of our county’s birth network, providing lactation training to our county’s doulas, chiropractors, and midwives. I am excited to become a full-fledged IBCLC this year after I successfully write the exam. Although my third child will be due one month after the administration of this year’s exam, it is my plan to continue working as a volunteer educator with WIC as well as focusing on starting my county’s first private practice lactation service, Au Lait Lactation & Birth Services, provided two days a week in a local medical facility, and the remainder of the time providing in-home lactation care for dyads of all stages.