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Clinicians in the Trenches: Francisca Orchard from Santiago, Chile

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By Francisca Orchard, CNM, IBCLC

I became a certified midwife 20 years ago, assisting women in labor since my early adult days. I came into this field with an eye toward low intervention birth and respect for mothers, with special emphasis on the humanization of birth. This was probably because, during my internships in hospitals, I saw very little respect for women and a lot of poor treatment of them.

In the 1990s, I worked in a neonatal intensive care unit where the promotion of breastfeeding in preterm infants was a priority. Later, I also received doula training in the U.S. and earned a diploma in infant massage in London.

In 2011, I achieved my goal of becoming an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant® (IBCLC®). The road was not easy for me. The year I took the exam was the first time in Chile the exam was given at the same time as in the rest of the world.

Since then, I have been working in breastfeeding promotion, and consulting in support of perinatal health professionals. I began a prenatal education program for pregnant women and their families that promotes breastfeeding and respectful delivery to reduce the number of caesarean section deliveries in Chile, and to increase our prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding to 6 months of life.

In Chile, we have 43% of mothers still breastfeeding at 6 months, but there is a huge disparity in breastfeeding rates related to women’s income.  We have an urgent need to follow mothers during the first days after maternity hospital discharge, where most abandon exclusive breastfeeding. We also struggle with  health professionals who, due to their lack of knowledge about breastfeeding, are perhaps our biggest barrier to breastfeeding duration. Most pediatricians encourage the use of artificial supplements instead of working with mothers and babies early to help them continue breastfeeding.

Currently, I am a member of the Chilean Committee on Breastfeeding and the Lactation Committee of the Chilean Society of Pediatrics. Some months ago, I collaborated with a multidisciplinary team of psychologists and photographers on a project called “Breastfeeding Mothers.” We created a space where women of different ethnicities and Chilean places were professionally photographed in different breastfeeding situations.  It is a beautiful work with more than 50 photographs. We are awaiting funding to publish it for breastfeeding promotion in Chile.

In my daily work, I consult with women and babies with breastfeeding difficulties and write articles of interest to our community.As of this writing, I am one of only 2 IBCLCs in Chile. During World Breastfeeding Week, I traveled to different cities in Chile to participate in breastfeeding promotion activities. Additionally, I work on an advisory team of the ministry of health. We are working toward implementing the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative in Chile during 2015. The Chilean government is also discussing the approval of human milk banks.

It is an exciting time in Chile with so much going on to support and promote breastfeeding. I am thankful for the International Lactation Consultant Association’s® resources that help me inform my community about the competencies and value of IBCLCs, and to increase our numbers throughout Latin America.

chiliPhoto via the author


Applications Being Accepted for IBCLC CARE AWARD!

careawardThe International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners® (IBLCE®) and International Lactation Consultant Association® (ILCA®) are once again proud to announce the IBCLC Care Award is ready to be launched for 2013.

This first Global IBCLC CARE AWARD recognizes Hospitals and Community facilities.

All Hospitals/birthing facilities/birthing services and Community Based facilities who have achieved the specific criteria are eligible to receive the IBCLC Care Award for a 2-year period. The Award is presented to facilities in recognition for staffing professionals who hold the prestigious International Board Certified Lactation Consultant® certification (IBCLC®), for those who continue to provide a lactation program, or activities that protect, promote, and support breastfeeding , and those who can demonstrate that they have a commitment to breastfeeding training of medical staff who care for new families.

Be sure to check if you meet the specific criteria for your facility today and apply!

IBCLC Hospital Care applications are OPEN September 27 through to November 29, 2013. IBCLC Community Care applications OPEN February 3 to March 21, 2014.

Learn more about the IBCLC care Award at



The Legacy of a Hurricane

By Regina Roig-Romero

HurricaneAndrew 2

Every year at about this time, I think of Hurricane Andrew. Sometimes I wonder why. Twenty-one years ago, I was inside the tropical buzz saw known as Hurricane Andrew, a Category 5 storm that hit South Florida in August of 1992. When a storm of that strength is just outside your door, the smartest thing you can do is suppress your curiosity and not look out your windows, which hopefully are boarded up anyway. And we were smart, so from that frightening night what I mostly remember are the sounds – the storm, whistling like an oncoming train about to roll full-speed ahead into the closet we were hiding in, and the knowledgeable, calming voice of meteorologist Bryan Norcross on my radio. I remember the darkness. And I remember my 16 month old daughter nursing….and throwing up.

But Hurricane Andrew wasn’t just a personal milestone in my life; it was also a professional one, my first serious venture into my future as a public health IBCLC. That night was all about Andrew’s sounds, but from the moment the sun returned to our skies, its sights took over. South Florida – indeed the country – could not remember when the nation had last witnessed such devastation from a natural disaster.  Three of our five La Leche League (LLL) Leaders lost their homes to Andrew. I – a newcomer to breastfeeding advocacy, having only become a Leader one year earlier – was one of the two that didn’t. Once we were all finally able to see what had just happened to our city, those of us in LLL were immediately panic-stricken at the prospect of the city’s newborns being fed infant formula under such conditions – no water, no electricity, no refrigeration, no grocery stores. It was as if overnight we had all been transported to a 3rd world country and were now living inside of Gabrielle Palmer’s book, The Politics of Breastfeeding.  “Well, not in my town, and not on my watch,” I thought, so I had an idea – take all of the money that LLL folks from around the country had donated to us, spend it buying copies of the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, and then give them away for free in South Miami-Dade where the storm had hit worst.

It seemed like a great idea and so we bought the books and packed them – along with our idealism and our kids – into our cars and set out for “tent city”:  the huge collection of tents in Homestead where many of the instantly-homeless were now living. And that is when I came across the most enduring sight, for me, of Hurricane Andrew:  a huge green tent full of infant formula, can after can after can of it piled high and being given away. Our books seemed so tiny and unimportant by comparison! Just as defining for me was the virtual wall of disinterest that we were met with when we tried to explain to the powers that be that after a disaster breastfeeding is even more important than it is before it. But our passion and idealism fell on deaf ears; I felt afterwards like we’d failed miserably to make a difference.

My idealism died in tent city; two things replaced it: the conviction that the most important thing we can do to promote breastfeeding after any disaster is to normalize breastfeeding *before* it, and an intense and mercilessly unrelenting desire to make a difference that drives me to this very day. Twenty-one years later I am an IBCLC with 17 years’ experience as a Lactation Consultant for the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program, a public health professional on the brink of graduating with a Master’s degree in Public Health, a member of the National WIC Association’s Breastfeeding Promotion Committee, and a Board Director of the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners. I neither imagined nor planned any of it. But it all began with Andrew – with the whistling wind, the frustration of failure, the implacability of apathy, and a tent full of formula. No wonder I still think about that hurricane…..

ReginaRoig-Romero_IBLCE BOD picRegina Maria Roig-Romero was a La Leche League Leader for several years beginning in 1991, and is currently the Senior Lactation Consultant for the WIC breastfeeding program in Miami, Florida. She has assisted as an IBCLC in the program’s creation, development and leadership since its inception in 1996; in 2011-2012 she led the implementation of a worksite lactation support program at the health department in Miami. From 2002-2011, she successfully mentored thirteen Peer Counselors to become IBCLCs. In 2011, Regina served as an invited member of the USDA Food & Nutrition Service Expert Panel on the revision of the Loving Support Peer Counselor Training curricula. Her major speaking engagements include: the National WIC Association’s (NWA) Washington Leadership Conference & Breastfeeding Summit in 2010, two Spanish-language sessions at the 2012 ILCA annual conference, and an upcoming presentation on perceived milk insufficiency at the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting in November 2013.  Regina was appointed to the NWA Breastfeeding Promotion Committee in August 2012, and was elected to the Board of Directors of the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners in September 2012. In December 2013, she will graduate with a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention from Florida International University.


Racial Inequities in Breastfeeding: My Commitment to be a Mentor

By Betsy Hoffmeister, IBCLC

Recently, some of my colleagues in private practice were discussing the topic of IBCLC® mentoring. I’ve only been an IBCLC for four years, but I receive many phone calls per year from women looking for a mentor.  Some of my colleagues mentioned the uneasy sensation that they are training their own competition.  I want to add a different perspective.

iStock_000016195932SmallIn June, the two-day Inequity in Breastfeeding Support Summit in Seattle was the site of passionate discussion about barriers to breastfeeding support, for and by women of color. Women of color in the US have a lower rate of initiation and duration of breastfeeding, and women and their babies suffer higher rates of morbidity and mortality that could be mitigated by breastfeeding. There are also few IBCLCs and other breastfeeding support people who are women of color.

In the Greater Puget Sound Area, there are very few (possibly zero!) private practice lactation consultants who are also black, Latina, Asian, or Native American. I know of one Seattle-area Native American woman who just sat the exam and I can’t wait to hear her results! There are a few IBCLCs who are women of color who work for WIC or for hospitals. Why is that? There are many, many, MANY obstacles.  One obstacle cited was the barriers to entry – the bar keeps getting raised and it’s terribly expensive. Here in Washington State, for a variety of reasons, we have few to no La Leche League (LLL) Leaders who are also women of color. Since Leadership used to be the traditional route to becoming an IBCLC, lack of Leaders who are women of color is also a challenge. LLL of WA has been actively working to address this.

Conversely, what we learned from the women of color in attendance at the Summit, is that while the breastfeeding rates, especially in the African American community are very low, there are no visible black breastfeeding role models (calling Michelle Obama, we want your photos!!) Very often, women of color would feel more comfortable working with a breastfeeding helper who had similar life experiences. IBCLCs are typically compassionate, wise, lovely women – and yet, at least here in WA State, we have not walked in the shoes of the African American experience. I have come to understand and honor the desire of women to want to work with someone who not only has experience and training, is compassionate, wise and lovely, but also shares life experience and understanding. Incidentally, that’s why the following video is so important. I’m thrilled that when I first saw it, it had less than 10,000 hits and now it has more than 300,000!


One agenda item strongly suggested at the close of the Summit was for IBCLCs to seek out and mentor women of color as IBCLCs. And, if at all possible, NOT charge for it if the woman in training is low income. I don’t depend on my IBCLC income to run my household. I can afford to take on a free mentee. I don’t feel like I’d be training my competition. Right now, my clientele are mainly white, Asian, and Southeast Asian. I see the occasional Latina and very, very rarely an African American mother. If I could mentor an IBCLC-in-training who was also a woman of color, I feel like I’d be training valuable colleagues who could support women in my community who desperately need the services but are not seeking me specifically. I publicly committed at the Summit and here commit again: when I achieve my 5-year status and go through the process of becoming a mentor, I commit to actively seeking out a woman of color in my community who wishes to become a breastfeeding counselor and mentoring her through the process of becoming an IBCLC. I know I will learn much in the process and become a better helper to all mothers as a result.

sixBetsy Hoffmeister, MPA, IBCLC, has been a LLL Leader since 2002 and a private practice IBCLC since 2009. She lives in Seattle with her husband, who makes chocolate from beans, (but sadly, without sugar), her son who just became a Bar Mitzvah and her 8 year old daughter. In her spare time, Betsy reads, gardens, and is experimenting with knit and crochet breast patterns. She only recently got turned onto anti-racism and equity in breastfeeding support and is excited and passionate about helping the movement. Contact her


Taking My Private Practice “Paperless”

By Jessica Lang Kosa, PhD, IBCLC

Going Paperless means no more of THIS!

Going Paperless means no more of THIS!

I’m writing this in the YMCA lobby while my daughter is in swim class. As an independent IBCLC working in a solo private practice and the mother of three, I need to use these little chunks of time. This was one of my main goals when I decided to change my practice to a “paperless” one. Being “paperless” means that all of my charting, records, communications, and care plans are recorded on one of my electronic devices. I have an hour while she swims. I have emails from clients with questions. I want to check their records before responding to them, even if it’s just to make sure I know the baby’s name and age. Having a paperless practice gives me access to my records via my phone or ipad.

One of the strongest reasons for making this switch was the need to combine emails with the rest of my client records. Nearly all of my clients do email me at some point, and I wanted to integrate a record of those communications in the client’s chart. Printing out emails and stapling them to the consult report seemed tedious and
wasteful. Making the whole record electronic solved that problem.

Other IBCLCs may consider going paperless for many reasons – avoiding paper waste,
saving storage space, and ease of communication with clients and other providers are
also benefits. I’ve also seen many different ways of approaching a paperless practice.
Here I’ll describe my system, not to suggest this is the correct or best way, but to offer it
up for others to improve on.

The first step is having the clients fill out my online intake form and sign my consent form. For this, I use Formsite – I already had an account because I use it for registration for my breastfeeding classes. It’s web-based, so it can be used by anyone, regardless of what type of computer they have. An alternative would be to have an intake form built into your website but, for many, any changes would require having to pay to have updates made by the person who runs your website. Formsite has a secure server feature, allowing for HIPAA-compliant collection of protected information. These features required a paid account on Formsite, but you can get a basic account for free to try it out.

Building my intake form using their interface was time consuming, but not difficult. It allows you to drag and drop questions of different types (checkbox, multiple choice, text answer, date) as well as arrange and format them. I built my consent form and HIPAA notice in as well. When a client makes an appointment, I give her the link and password to access the form. (If she didn’t have internet, I’d go back to a paper form, but it’s only happened once.) When she fills it out, the site sends me an email notification. I log into Formsite and download the info as a spreadsheet. Then begins the fun.

I paste the spreadsheet including the intake info into an app called Bento. This is a Mac based program – if you have a PC, you would paste it into Excel or whatever spreadsheet
program you like. I chose Bento because it was the only app I found that would combine
emails, spreadsheet data, photos, and files all together. Now, when a client emails to
say the baby is up to 8 lbs., I can drag the email into her record in Bento. If she sends
me a picture, ditto. And her care plan and pediatrician’s report will be in there too.

At the actual consult, I use Bento on an ipad. It syncs with my home computer.
Important note – it syncs over my own home network, not through the cloud. The question of HIPAA compliance and the cloud remains formally unanswered, so I felt it behooves me to keep clinical info out of the cloud. (Yes, unencrypted email is also a potential HIPAA concern, so I address that in my consent form. And I don’t text with clients at all, except about scheduling.)

Bento allows me to create forms on my ipad to visually organize info. I have one form
that shows the intake info she gave me online, one with her doctors’ contact info, one
for the evaluation I do at the consult, one for followup info, and one for my superbill. I
use checkboxes and dropdown menus as much as possible so that I spend minimal
time typing. I complete the evaluation form as I go along, during the consult. At the
end, I complete the superbill, which I will export as a PDF file to send her. The followup
form will contain her care plan and report (as PDF files), emails, notes on phone calls,
or any subsequent visits. The providers’ form is linked to a database of doctors, so I
can easily look up their phone or fax numbers.

Another nice aspect of this – by using checkboxes, I can easily quantify data across my
whole practice, such as what percentage of babies I referred for tongue tie.

I could create Bento forms for my reports and care plans, but I haven’t. Bento doesn’t
allow for a lot of formatting, and I like them to be in letter form, so I do those separately
using Pages (Mac’s word processor.) I save the care plan and report as PDF file. I
email the care plan to the client, along with her superbill and any handouts or additional
info I want to send her, and I use PamFax (there are many other choices for online
faxing) to fax the report to the pediatrician and OB/GYN.

With all-electronic records, backup is critical. I use Carbonite for remote backup (if my house burns down, or my computer is stolen), and Time Machine for easy local backup (if my computer freaks out.) Both of these happen automatically.

All of this takes some investment of time to get up and running, but I’ve definitely found
that it makes my practice run more smoothly.

JLKJessica Lang Kosa is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant in private practice in the Boston area.  She offers home visits for comprehensive breastfeeding help, and teaches courses in breastfeeding support for professionals who work with mothers and babies.


What Makes IBCLCs Essential in Their Communities? {Leslie Stern, RN, CNM, IBCLC}

In celebration of IBCLC Day, we’re asking IBCLCs of all sorts to reflect a bit on what makes them essential within their communities. Today, we highlight Leslie Stern, an IBCLC working in private practice in Durham, NC, USA. 

What makes an IBCLC essential in my community?

Leslie-Stern-4679We (the IBCLC’s) are the protectors of breastfeeding. We are who the mothers can turn to when breastfeeding isn’t going as planned…when there’s pain, not enough milk or other reasons why nursing isn’t working out. We troubleshoot, we are the detectives who take the time to try to figure out what’s going on to help the mother meet her goals. We can be found in a variety of settings…in the hospital, in outpatient clinics, and in private practice. I personally love going to a mother’s home and working with her in her own environment, with her own pillows, and on her couch or in her bed. We can’t make any guarantees that breastfeeding will work, but we will try our hardest to do what we can. The IBCLC is the essential credential for lactation support and I’m proud do be one in Durham, NC.

Leslie Stern started her career as an RN working in the Pediatric ICU and quickly learned she wanted to be with moms and babies. She became an IBCLC in 1997 while working in Labor and Delivery in the midst of becoming a Certified Nurse Midwife in 1998. After working as a CNM in Brooklyn, NY, she married and started a new chapter of her life as a mother of 2 (who are now 8 and 5). Leslie started private practice as an IBCLC in Durham, NC and is happily married, living with her hubby, dog, 2 kids, 2 fish, 4 cats, and 10 chickens.


What Makes IBCLCs Essential in Their Communities? {Shannon Riley, RNC-OB, IBCLC}

In celebration of IBCLC Day, we’re asking IBCLCs of all sorts to reflect a bit on what makes them essential within their communities. Today, we highlight Shannon Riley, an IBCLC working as a Registered Nurse on the Mother and Infant Care Center and as a Lactation Consultant at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD. 

What makes an IBCLC essential in my community?

shannonMost healthcare workers spend carefully designated time learning about specific topics related to their field through school and training. However, they likely did not receive much more information about breastfeeding during their education than a few “catch all” phrases, such as the now-famous “breast is best”.

But what does that mean? Why is it the best? Even if I endorse it for obvious reasons, how do I serve the mother who is panicking with her newborn? How do I help?

These are the questions I asked myself as a Labor/Delivery/Postpartum Nurse for about a decade before I took purposeful steps to learn more about what the current science and hooplah around breastfeeding is! I LOVE that it’s now my full-time job to be closely connected to what is current and to be sharing any gained experience with my fellow healthcare providers who are often handling a myriad other responsibilities in their positions. These days, our patients expect and deserve that we all to be able to address basic breastfeeding so I see my function as this:  like a lake-tossed pebble that creates that rolling “ripple effect”.

At my first ILCA conference in 2011, I heard it said, “If we do our jobs right, we won’t need Lactation Consultants someday”.  I think we’re safe to keep our jobs for now but that statement really resonated with me!

Shannon Riley, RNC-OB, IBCLC started her career in the US Army Nurse Corps after attending Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI.  After serving on active duty from 1999-2005, she and her husband came to the Washington DC area. She enjoys her continued service to military families as a Registered Nurse on the Mother and Infant Care Center and as a Lactation Consultant at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD. She obtained her IBCLC in 2009.  She is married to her best friend and they have two very fun kids, 5 and 3. Her daughter has suggested more than once that Shannon is employed as a wet nurse.


What Makes IBCLCs Essential in Their Communities? {Dr. Todd Wolynn}

In celebration of IBCLC Day, we’re asking IBCLCs of all sorts to reflect a bit on what makes them essential within their communities. Today, we highlight Dr. Todd Wolynn, IBCLC of the Breastfeeding Center of Pittsburgh, Kids Plus Pediatrics, and also the National Breastfeeding Center

What makes an IBCLC essential in my community? Why, I’ve been desperately waiting to for someone to ask me that question.

TW 2012 jpeg

Dr. Wolynn has been an IBCLC since 1995– and is darn proud of it!

IBCLC’s – well they’re just great people… and so knowledgeable in the ways of the force!  They’ve got big hearts, supportive shoulders and how should I say… a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’.  Every community ought to have one. No, make that ten!

All kidding aside, IBCLC’s are people who want to help.  They are committed and do their work passionately – unfortunately, often at their on expense.  In this day and age, in this economy when there is are fewer available resources – IBCLC’s are just not willing to let a mom or baby down when they need the help.  Breastfeeding support is crucial, and vital, and needs to be appropriately compensated.

Our communities are starting to ‘get it’. Some a lot faster than others but most are now recognizing the benefits of increased breastfeeding initiation and duration rates.  IBCLC’s are a critical resource available to communities, hospitals and medical practices who improve breastfeeding experiences and rates.

So in MY Pittsburgh community – my essential “Top 3” favorites goes like this:

1)   Penguins

2)   IBCLC’s

3)    Steelers (would have been higher had they won the Super Bowl)

*editor’s note: And if you know anything about Pittsburgh sports culture, you know that IBCLCs must be knocking it out of the park to be ranked amoung these beloved teams!

Dr. Todd Wolynn has been a General Pediatrician and IBCLC since 1995.  He returned to Carnegie Mellon University from 2006-8 to obtain his Master of Medical Management degree. Dr. Wolynn serves the AAP Section on Breastfeeding Executive Committee and serves in an advisory capacity at the United States Breastfeeding Committee.  He has written and presented nationally on breastfeeding benefits and the need for more support. Dr. Wolynn is recognized nationally for teaching physicians ‘how to’ powerfully and effectively support breastfeeding in hospitals and offices. He is very proud of his effort to create the Breastfeeding Center of Pittsburgh (in 2006) and the National Breastfeeding (in 2011).


A Response from Liz Brooks: Reaffirming the Mission and Vision of ILCA

By Liz Brooks, JD, IBCLC, ILCA President

“The IBCLC is the globally recognized professional authority in lactation.”

7220_159273157696_4699634_nThere it is … the Vision Statement for the International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA). As the President of ILCA and an IBCLC in private practice, I am proud of this important strategic objective by my professional association.

So imagine my consternation to read an e-mail from one of ILCA’s members, who expressed concern about the Joint Stakeholder Letter recently sent worldwide as part of a multi-organizational effort to promote the International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) credential and profession. Her primary concern: a message that IBCLCs are trying to keep other breastfeeding helpers from providing care to lactating women.

Oh, dear, I thought. That isn’t ILCA’s goal at all! How could our vision be misconstrued? Yet, it is not the first time I have heard about confusion over ILCA’s efforts to market the IBCLC credential.

So let me take a stab at explaining the motivation behind ILCA’s Vision and Mission, and the sending of the “Joint Stakeholder Letter” by ILCA (and co-signed by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiers, IBLCE, our certifying arm, and the Lactation Education Accreditation and Approval Review Committee, LEAARC, the organization promoting excellence in lactation education and curricula).

ILCA, IBLCE and LEAARC have never espoused the notion that only IBCLCs are able to provide support to breastfeeding families. Most mothers in the world do not even need the special skill and expertise that an IBCLC can bring to bear! Indeed, in a perfect world, every woman giving birth would be surrounded by female relatives, friends and neighbors — all of whom had happily and successfully breastfed their own children. Mother-to-mother connections have been going on since the dawn of time, and the simple feat of “learning by watching” and “teaching by doing” is the quintessential practice of breastfeeding support.

We are fortunate that modern medicine has allowed families — who otherwise would not have conceived or been able to fully lactate — to be able to bear children, and boost milk supply. Premature and sick babies are going home from the neonatal intensive care unit, to live full and fruitful lives. On the flip side, in our modern day world, women of child-bearing age (who comprise the greatest segment of the working population) often are not able to be with their breastfeeding children around-the-clock.

Situations such as these create tremendous challenges for lactating women. The demand for a specialty in the allied health care field was borne precisely from the recognition (by La Leche League Leaders) that some breastfeeding mothers need more than the loving, compassionate support of friends, relatives, and mother-to-mother counselors. And they recognized that primary healthcare providers (such as pediatricians, midwives and gynecologists) were not getting training or clinical rotation in lactation support during their own education.

The IBCLC is the only international credential in breastfeeding and human lactation, awarded by an independently-accredited organization. Those with the IBCLC credential are members of the health care team, who can help (and advocate for) mothers and babies with those higher-order challenges. It is a stand-alone credential, and the requirements for it to be awarded are substantial.

Distinguishing the IBCLC from other kinds of breastfeeding support is necessary, because we also know that there is tremendous confusion (by mothers, hospital administrators, and public health regulators) about “Who Is Who” in the field of lactation support. I just typed “get help sore nipples” into Google, and got 1,070,000 results. Options included sites for nipple creams and products, anonymous chat rooms, websites by medical professionals, websites by mother-to-mother groups, makers of baby products, etc. Imagine being the tired, sore, weepy mother, typing that phrase into her laptop at 3AM. Which site should she visit? What do all those initials mean?

Thus, ILCA (IBLCE and LEAARC) identified the need for promotion of the IBCLC credential and profession. Not to the exclusion of other kinds of helpers … but as the well-understood, stand-alone allied healthcare professional credential that it is. No one group of breastfeeding helpers (doctors, midwives, IBCLCs, peer counselors, mother-to-mother counselors, those who’ve acquired specialized short-term educational training) can “corner the market” on helping mothers. That is impossible. Does anyone think breastfeeding mothers have too much help and support?

But a corollary concept is: Each kind of breastfeeding support should be well and honestly marketed to the public — to the mothers, employers, hospital administrators and public health decision-makers who seek varying levels of expertise.

Every mother, everywhere, deserves to know what went into the education and training of the person who stands before her, offering support for breastfeeding.

For ILCA, marketing the IBCLC credential and profession is the cornerstone of its Strategic Plan, Vision and Mission. For ILCA, marketing our position paper The Role and Impact of the IBCLC is one way of making sure that mothers who need an IBCLC will recognize when they are getting an IBCLC. The Joint Stakeholder Letter — first proposed in March 2011 — is an effort by all three organizations who work on behalf of our profession (ILCA, the professional association; IBLCE, the credentialing arm; LEAARC, the education component) to jointly and publicly promote the IBCLC credential.

Perhaps to close I will state the obvious: Breastfeeding is the mammalian norm and our biologic imperative … which means the true breastfeeding “authorities” are mothers and their children! When expert help and advocacy is called for … when breastfeeding issues are morphing from mothering questions into healthcare concerns … then “The IBCLC is the globally recognized professional authority in lactation.” To quote U. S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, “Everyone can help make breastfeeding easier,” to create a supportive environment for mothers, babies and families.


A Joint Letter to our Stakeholders

In a first-of-its-kind communication, on December 10, 2012 the

jointly sent a communication to nearly 100 stakeholder-organizations and policy-makers, worldwide, describing why the International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) is the essential credential for lactation support. Click here to read this important letter, and click here to view the recipients of this global communication.

7220_159273157696_4699634_nCentral to the revised Vision, Mission and Strategic Plan announced by ILCA in July 2012 is the promotion of the IBCLC credential and profession. ILCA, IBLCE and LEAARC are separate organizations, but each shares this strategic objective. The joint letter by ILCA-IBLCE-LEAARC is a tangible means of communicating to public health ministers, healthcare provider professional associations, and breastfeeding-support advocates the critical role the IBCLC can play as a member of the healthcare team.

Lactating women are everywhere, and almost all of them need support. Peer counselors, mother-to-mother groups, and healthcare providers who learned breastfeeding management from excellent educators can serve most mothers’ needs. But the IBCLC holds the essential credential for those families needing, instead, the specialized skill and expertise that IBCLC certification represents.

We encourage you, as an ILCA member, to share this letter with those who need to know more about your profession! You can download it from the ILCA website, along with a copy of the ILCA Position Paper on the Role and Impact of the IBCLC.

Sincerely, on behalf of the ILCA Board of Directors,



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