My co-founder & COO Danielle Rigg and I are in sunny (but chilly) Orlando, Florida preparing to run a workshop tomorrow at the Healthy Children Project’s Center for Breastfeeding 2010 International Conference on the Theory and Practice of Human Lactation Research and Breastfeeding Managment. We will be talking about why breastfeeding needs a makeover and how the breastfeeding movement can benefit from cutting edge tools of social marketing—like our gorgeous ad campaign, our new message to moms and our glamorous and appealing brand, among other initiatives. We’ll also be talking about what moms are experiencing with breastfeeding and what we’ve learned about social media. Finally, we’ll be talking about how (with your help!) we can elevate breastfeeding to be the “mother of all causes” on par with Komen, (Red), March of Dimes and all the diseases that breastfeeding ameliorates—the breastfeeding cause is woefully underfunded, yet there is no disease from cancer, obesity, diabetes to heart disease and more that breastfeeding does not impact positively to some degree. You can see our presentation description and the full conference schedule here.
Healthy Children is where Danielle, first, and then I, 2 years later, turned to become certified lactation counselors. They have a reputation for excellence, and their week-long training course, which travels around the country, is often sold out. My trainers were Nikki Lee and Roxanne Hayek and they can tell you I was on the edge of my seat during my course, spilling over with excitement over what I was learning. I considered myself pretty knowledgeable about breastfeeding (having breastfed and having started a breastfeeding non-profit and having read much, much literature) but was amazed by just how much I didn’t know . . . and I don’t mean just facts about lactation management like dealing with latching issues or the physiology of milk production. The Healthy Children course gave me tremendous education about the larger context of the breastfeeding issue, techniques for working with patients, best resources, and framework. It was simply awe-inspiring. Many professionals who go on to become IBCLCs (International Board Certified Lactation Consultants) take the Healthy Children course as part of the qualification process. If you are thinking of becoming a lactation professional, we strongly encourage you to take the Healthy Children course. According to the CDC, there is a shortage in lactation professionals per capita. We’d also love to see more doctors take it (and boy, breastfeeding rates would change overnight if they did) and also women’s health journalists and website editors—I’m constantly amazed at how many pregnancy/parenting magazines and websites have a Medical Advisory Board without one single qualified lactation professional on it! Human lactation and breastfeeding medicine is a science, and should be treated as such. There is too much misinformation about breastfeeding that is being perpetuated by well-meaning laypersons and medical personnel who are not adequately trained in this specialty. We think that Healthy Children provides a gold standard of evidence-based lactation professional education. One of the biggest “booby traps”, that we will discuss in a separate post, is that not all lactation professionals have undergone a similar rigorous training and have not demonstrated the knowledge and skill-set that should be required of anyone who works with new parents and their babies.
Now for our questions to you. What has been your experience with lactation professionals? We have heard a number of stories where new moms did not have a good experience with the lactation professional in the hospital, but had a wonderful experience with the lactation professional they hired themselves, or with volunteers from La Leche League or elsewhere. Do moms know the difference between a CLE, a CLC and an IBCLC? How can moms be assured that they are getting excellent breastfeeding advice from a lactation professional who practices according to the highest standards and ethics and is not operating under conflicting commercial influences? We know from the CDC that 70% of this country’s 3,000 maternity care centers perform poorly on breastfeeding support, so can we trust hospital lactation “specialists” to truly provide the best care to mothers? What are your thoughts on this? Please leave a comment below, or if you prefer, email me at bestforbabes.bettina AT gmail DOT com.
We’re looking forward to your feedback, and will let you know what WE learn from the conference!