Updated: May 6, 2020
Today, March 3rd is world IBCLC day. Yeah! I realize there's a day for almost everything these days, but I'm still going to take the day to celebrate why I decided to become an IBCLC.
Simply put, I was tired of seeing all kinds of women struggling to breastfeed and very few places for them to get help! And, if they were able to find help, sometimes the advice they received was not very good advice.
Breastfeeding is a specialty with a whole body of knowledge that is still being explored - for being a process that's as old as time, we're still learning new things about how breastfeeding works and what breastmilk is made of, ALL THE TIME. Seriously, until the last 10 years or so, we knew way more about how all kinds of other mammals breastfeed their young and what their milk contains than we knew about human breastfeeding!
Since the science and the collective knowledge base just wasn't there for many years, many health professionals never got adequate training in supporting breastfeeding. So, the providers you trust to guide you in health decisions, sometimes aren't very knowledgeable or up-t0-date on their breastfeeding skills. I'm definitely not trying to point fingers, they have to know ALOT of information about ALOT of different things, and if they haven't taken it upon themselves to further educate themselves about breastfeeding, they just didn't get that training as part of their education. They probably learned all the benefits for moms and babies, and are supportive of it, but that's very different from being able to properly instruct and guide a mother through their challenges.
Enter the IBCLC! In 1985, with funding from La Leche League, the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners was founded to develope a certification process that ensured proper credentials, education and proof of knowledge for people wishing to practice in the area of breastfeeding support. This arose from mother's request for qualified breastfeeding professionals. To this day, those who qualify as IBCLCs have met the highest standards of education and professional experience for supporting breastfeeding families. For all these reasons, it was very important to me that if I was going to help families, I needed to earn this certification so that families could feel confident if they were asking for my help, that I was qualified to give them that!
Sorry, I got a little side-tracked there from the main reason for this post - why I want to help families breastfeed successfully.
It's hard for me to adequately explain what my breastfeeding relationships with my kids have meant to me. There's just nothing quite like holding your baby in your arms and feeding them from your body - knowing that this is the best possible thing you could be doing for them. It's a source of bonding, comfort and nutrition all in one. I definitely worked through some struggles with my kids: tongue-tie issues, how to navigate breastfeeding and getting sleep, and bottle refusal to name a few. But overall, my experiences have been nothing short of wonderful.
I'm well aware that my experience is not many women's experience and that it happens that way for many reasons. I have absolutely no issue with women making their own choices about breastfeeding (or not!) but what deeply saddens me is when they make those choices not because they wanted to, but because they weren't able to get the support they needed to work through the challenges.
We as a society, really owe it to women to make the right support available. It impacts their and their baby's health for the rest of their lives!
I hope this helps to inspire you to ask:
What can I do to support the breastfeeding families in my life?
That might be a topic for another post! Happy IBCLC day 2020!