Being a lactation consultant is a noble job. No wonder why being a lactation consultant is one of the most supported careers in the state of Texas. In fact, there are a lot of groups and organizations that work together to support breastfeeding advocates. But how to become a lactation consultant in Texas?
If you are someone from Texas who is interested in pursuing a career in lactation, there are actually several routes for you to choose from. You may choose to become a Certified Breastfeeding Counselor (CBC), a Certified Lactation Consultant (CLC) or aim at getting the highest level of certification in this profession by becoming an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). Regardless of which path you choose though, one thing is common among them, you need to go through several essential steps.
Before we move forward towards the seven steps on how to become a lactation consultant in Texas, let’s define what a lactation consultant is, to begin with.
What is a lactation consultant?
A lactation consultant is someone who specializes in the clinical management of breastfeeding. She is a health professional who has gone through years of practical experience as a breastfeeding specialist and has passed and acquired an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) status.
Lactation consultants train mothers to properly feed their babies. They help mothers who are having trouble feeding their babies. In particular, those who have latching difficulties, low milk production, as well as painful nursing. Apart from helping moms, a lactation consultant also helps babies who are having difficulty gaining weight.
How to become a lactation consultant in Texas?
According to the website of the Texas Health and Human Services, which is under the Department of State Health and Services, the IBLCE Exam Blueprint has listed the following areas one should be knowledgeable in if pursuing a lactation consultant career in Texas.
- Be very knowledgeable about the current data or information on breastfeeding.
This is particularly referring to those who do not have a background on health care. IBLCE suggest making yourself even more familiar with breastfeeding by reading books like the Breastfeeding Answers Made Simple by Nancy Mohrbacher. The book contains excellent information on how to counsel breastfeeding moms. It is an easy-to-read book, plus very well-researched. You have to make sure, though, that the books you read are up-to-date as breastfeeding has changed so much over the past few years.
Apart from books, you may also do your own research and familiarization on breastfeeding by gathering and reading breastfeeding information from the internet. Just make sure that the websites where you get data from are legit ones. A good source of information on health care and breastfeeding is PubMed. It is the National Library of Medicine. PubMed provides access to over a million research articles. Get as much information as you can from there, and familiarize yourself more about breastfeeding. Again, just be extra critical in gathering information from the internet, as you know, some are not authentic.
- Take breastfeeding courses. Like we mentioned earlier, breastfeeding management has changed a lot over the years.
By taking breastfeeding courses, you get to know the latest trends in this field. You may find available courses in breastfeeding management via the International Lactation Consultant Association website. Among those included in the list is the Department of State Health and Services.
Some of the courses offered by the DSHS are:
Here are the breastfeeding classes available to be taken in-person:
– Principles of Lactation Management
– Lactation Counseling and Problem Solving
– Clinical Lactation Practicum
The registration and payment for these classes are handled by TALWD via EvenBrite.com. You may check the website to know about these course offerings.
Some of the training available online are:
– Breastfeeding Management
– Breastfeeding the Compromised Infant
You can register via Women, Infant and Children (WIC) Partner Training Site or if you are a WIC staff, via Texas WIC Training to get to know more of the courses they offer.
By request, below classes are available for physicians who aim to further or refresh their knowledge on the following topics:
– Supporting Breastfeeding When Challenges Occur
– The Ten Steps: Evidence-Based Care to Support the Mother-Baby Dyad, 1-4
– The Ten Steps: Evidence-Based Care to Support the Mother-Baby Dyad, 5-10
- Acquire a practical experience as a breastfeeding counselor.
One of the major requirements on how to become a lactation consultant in Texas is to get a 300 to 1,000 hours of practical experience as a breastfeeding counselor for you to be able to take the test to be a lactation consultant. The practical experience depends on the person’s educational background.
You can acquire the needed experience by working with breastfeeding moms in hospitals, WIC clinics, birthing centers, as well as a doctor’s office. You may also opt to volunteer in La Leche League, WIC clinics, hospitals, and doctor’s office – as long as you get to have an encounter or contact with breastfeeding mothers.
Make sure to keep track of your time either working or volunteering to ensure you meet the time required. Get as much practical experience as you can. The more experience, the better. Do not limit yourself to just an area of breastfeeding. Explore, meet with knowledgeable people, and learn issues associated with breastfeeding as well as on children. You can also do home visits to breastfeeding moms and familiarize yourself on the situation of breastfeeding at their homes.
- Be a member of the International Lactation Consultant’s Association.
By joining the association, you get to receive the Journal of Human Lactation, the ILCA Globe and you even get to enjoy discounted registration fees for the annual ILCA Conference. Being part of the association will help you get more information on breastfeeding management, as well as help you widen your network. Attending the conference will also help acquire more knowledge about the different breastfeeding situations and how to properly address them.
- Register as a member of LactNet.
LactNet is a free-email user group dedicated to provide information and cater to discussion revolving on lactation. Register as a member by simply emailing them your full name and credentials.
- Attend breastfeeding conferences to be able to acquire more knowledge and hone your skills on breastfeeding, as well as to create a wider network.
The Department of State Health Services of Texas offers a lot of different types of breastfeeding classes every year. Meanwhile, the La Leche League, ILCA and other breastfeeding groups conduct an annual conference. Take advantage of those. Attend as many as you can.
- Once requirements are met, take and pass the Lactation Consultation exam.
Your journey to being a professional lactation consultant in Texas starts as soon as you pass the exam. Once you’re in, put your heart into it. Help spread breastfeeding awareness by promoting it and encouraging moms to practice it.
There you have it. Those are the 7 steps on how to become a lactation consultant in Texas according to the IBLCE Exam Blueprint. However, if you find it too overwhelming, here’s a shorter version on how to become a lactation consultant in Texas:
- Earn a bachelor’s degree in any health-related area. It’s actually the best foundation to becoming a lactation consultant. If are someone who just found out this passion after already earning a degree, you may still pursue becoming a lactation consultant by working at the Texas Department of State Health Services as a WIC peer counselor. By doing so you gain the knowledge and experience you need for the job. You may also consider working for the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners.
- Complete an approved human lactation course. You may check the list we early on shared. Please note that the educational requirements vary on the route or the kind of lactation certification you want to pursue.
- Complete the required hands-on training required by the specific pathway you are going for.
- Once the other three are completed, take and pass the certification exam.
There you go. We hope that as you finish reading this, you get to have a clearer understanding of how to become a lactation consultant in Texas and that you get more inspired in pursuing this beautiful profession.
The work that needs to be done in order for one to become a lactation consultant may be tedious, but at the end of the day, nothing is too hard for someone who is passionate about breastfeeding and helping mommies and their babies.
You got this!