As the saying goes, breastmilk is best for babies. For some mommies, however, they find breastfeeding difficult, frustrating and a daunting task to do. If you are one of them, don’t give up just yet. All you have to do is seek the help and expertise of a Certified Lactation Counselor.
Let’s admit it, whether you are a first-time-mom or not, you always want to give nothing but the best for your baby. You will do anything and everything just to make sure he gets everything he needs. This is most evident when it comes to your baby’s health and well-being. It is an understatement to say that mommies will pour out their heart and soul just to make sure their babies are healthy. And one way to keep our babies healthy is by feeding them breastmilk.
Mommy’s breastmilk has all the vitamins and nutrients a baby needs in the first six months of his life. That is why most – if not all – pediatricians highly recommend to feed babies with breastmilk. A mom’s breastmilk does not only satisfies the baby’s tummy but also helps in preventing any sickness and diseases to come close to your baby. It’s like an invisible shield of your baby against sickness and diseases.
While it is encouraging to feed our dear babies with breastmilk, the truth is, not all moms are capable of doing so. Some mommies are blessed to have enough supply, as well as knowledge to make breastfeeding last even without help. For some though, it feels impossible. It’s where a Certified Lactation Counselor enters into the picture. Certified Lactation Counselor helps mommies who are having a hard time with breastfeeding, as well as provides necessary support both for moms and their families to understand fully what breastfeeding is all about and what it can do, and how a family’s support for the mom plays a very important role on a breastfeeding journey.
By now you probably have a lot of questions about having or being a Certified Lactation Counselor – what is it all about, how to be one, and all that. With that, we came up with a list of the most commonly asked questions about this very noble profession.
So, let’s start!
- What is a Certified Lactation Counselor?
According to Healthy Children Project, Inc. – Center for Breastfeeding, a Certified Lactation Counselor is “a professional in lactation counseling who has demonstrated the necessary skills, knowledge, and abilities to provide breastfeeding counseling and management support to families who are thinking about breastfeeding or who have questions or problems during the course of breastfeeding/lactation.”
Basically, someone who is knowledgeable and an expert in breastfeeding and lactation. Like any other counselors, they are here to help and guide mothers in their breastfeeding and lactation journey.
- How to be a Certified Lactation Counselor?
Based on the Healthy Children Project, Inc. – Center for Breastfeeding, for an individual to be a Certified Lactation Counselor, she has to go through the following:
– Successfully complete a minimum of 52 hours of the World Health Organization/UNICEF Breastfeeding Counseling Training Course
– Pass a criterion-referenced examination that is developed and is being administered by the Academy of Lactation Policy and Practice or ALPP
– Show clinical competencies and skills that are compulsory in order to provide safe, evidence-based counseling for pregnant, lactating, and breastfeeding women.
- What knowledge and skills should a Certified Lactation Counselor have?
According to the Academy of Lactation Policy and Practice (ALPP), in order for one to be a Certified Lactation Counselor, she has to have the following knowledge and skills:
- The ability to construct and maintain conditions that predispose mothers and babies to an uncomplicated breastfeeding experience through counseling, education, clinical management, and support.
- Can monitor and evaluate behavioral, cultural, and social conditions predisposing mothers and babies to an uncomplicated breastfeeding experience.
- Has the capacity to assess for, monitor, and evaluate physical conditions that predispose mothers and babies to a complex breastfeeding experience.
- Can monitor and evaluate behavioral, cultural, and social conditions that predispose mothers and babies to complex breastfeeding experiences.
- Has the ability to provide needed evidence-based information regarding breastfeeding and medications, tobacco use, alcohol, and illicit drugs.
- Can identify and advocate for aspects of breastfeeding management programs that facilitate optimal health outcomes.
- Can assess breastfeeding using a multi-faceted approach.
- Has the capacity to use counseling skills and techniques that are supportive of breastfeeding mothers and babies, practicing in a clinically competent manner.
- Can develop and advocate for public health strategies that serve to protect breastfeeding.
- Has the ability to coordinate care consistent with standards of professional ethics and behavior.
- What does a Certified Lactation Counselor do?
Having undergone the training plus gaining the right skills, a CLC is expected to do the following:
- Be an advocate of breastfeeding, and promote it as the finest manner of infant feeding and care.
- Be able to provide counseling and help in educating pregnant women and lactating mothers about breastfeeding.
- Be able to conduct a complete assessment of the mother and the baby regarding lactation and breastfeeding.
- Be able to give proper care and support not only to the mother but to the whole family as well regarding breastfeeding.
- Be able to come up with an evidence-based care plan that is conferring to the needs of the mother and child based on the assessment and counseling conducted prior.
- Be able to implement the care plan.
- Be able to work together with the health care team.
- Be able to evaluate the needs of mothers and babies who are at risk of, or currently experiencing lactation difficulties.
- Be able to do follow-ups and triaging referral to other care providers when the need arises.
- Should obey the ALPP Code of Ethics and the professional standard within the ALPP code.
- Who needs a Certified Lactation Counselor?
Any woman who is pregnant, lactating or breastfeeding woman can hire a Certified Lactation Counselor. Particularly, those mommies who are at risk or is currently having difficulty in breastfeeding or lactating.
- Apart from direct counseling, where else does a Certified Lactation Counselor work?
A Certified Lactation Counselor can work in different departments like the following:
– Neonatal Intensive Care units
– Special Care Nurseries
– Hospitals or Birth Centers Maternity Units
– Outpatient Lactation Clinics
– Maternal and Child Health Services department at the state, county or local levels
– Parenting Centers
– Physician and Midwife Offices
- How much does a Certified Lactation Counselor get?
An hourly rate of a Certified Lactation Counselor in the United States is at around $26. But if you are considering a full-time job, a CLC can get around $25,000 up to $70,000 period. How much a CLC gets actually depends on the counselor’s expertise and experiences.
On one hand, if you are a mom who is having a hard time with your breastfeeding journey, we highly recommend you ask the help of a Certified Lactation Counselor and have yourself assessed. Do not give up so easily. Reality is, some mothers actually just lack information and support resulting in lack of breastmilk supply. Who knows? You might just be capable of lactating after all.
On the other hand, if you are a mom or someone who advocates breastfeeding, why not consider being a Certified Lactation Counselor? There are a lot of moms out there who needs help, but only a few people have the right information and the heart to help them out. Maybe you can be one of them? We bet you’ll be surprised at how fulfilling this profession can be.
To conclude, let’s all help one another in building a breastfeeding world because every child deserves nothing but the best.