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IBCLC Day 2024!


It's IBCLC Day!  What's an IBCLC, you ask?  It's an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant. There are 37,000 IBCLCs in 134 countries around the world, and they have all undergone a long, rigorous process to gain their skills and education (including a nerve-wracking test and lots of continuing education yearly)…it's the highest certification one can earn in this field and I'm proud to call myself one since 2004.

 

It's a relatively new profession (lactation consultant) – only 39 years old, and was formed to fill a gap in support and education left by a few decades of formula-feeding dominance. When formula feeding is the norm we lose the age-old knowledge of how babies feed at the breast – knowledge and guidance we used to learn from watching all the women around us nurse their babies (right out in the open! – gasp).  Our foremothers and midwives helped us if we ran into issues, but this social structure changed as we moved into birthing in hospitals and the commercialization and aggressive marketing of formula-milk flourished.

 

But in the 1980s, folks started to say "Hey, wait a minute…I want to breastfeed and I need some help please."  Research was slowly proving (as if we needed proof??) that breastmilk was biologically normal and better for infants and it behooves us as a nation (and world) to help protect this mammalian feature in our species. So…along came the IBCLCs (predated by volunteers such as La Leche League) to fill the gaps.

 

I like to consider myself someone with one foot in the medical (nursing) world and one in the counseling world (in a supportive role of the parents finding their way around feeding their baby). Aimee Eden summed it up best in her anthropology dissertation when she wrote:

 

While IBCLCs' draw on medicalized knowledge and evidence about breastfeeding and human lactation, their interactions with clients are best described as empathetic and humanistic, and are derived from nursing and mother-to-mother breastfeeding support models rather than from a technocratic, biomedical approach to care.

 

Eden, Aimee R., "The Professionalization and Practice of Lactation Consulting: Medicalized Knowledge, Humanistic Care" (2013). USF Tampa Graduate Theses and Dissertations.https://digitalcommons.usf.edu/etd/4477

 

It's been one of the biggest pleasures of my life to work as an IBCLC (in hospitals, in clinics, in homes of families, in my little offices I've had along the years).  And I'll be happily recertifying this year for another 10 year run!



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