As seen on Bloom Spokane.
International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) are healthcare professionals who are recognized as the experts in the field of lactation. In honor of IBCLC Day 2013, here are four ways IBCLCs make a difference on breastfeeding:
When prenatal education and postpartum care is provided to women from an IBCLC, they are not only more likely to breastfeed through week 20, but are also more likely to breastfeed more intensely than women who do not receive assistance from an IBCLC (Bonuck, 2005; Guise, 2003). IBCLCs can help women prepare for breastfeeding before their baby arrives; after birth, IBCLCs can help women overcome such difficulties as sore nipples, inadequate milk production, and dealing with infant feeding problems to make breastfeeding a pleasant experience for both moms and babes. They can also help with more high-risk problems, such as failure to thrive and maternal or infant illness. Whatever the breastfeeding journey entails, an IBCLC can make an impact, directly helping families breastfeed.
As healthcare professionals, IBCLCs have been educated, trained, tested, and proven competent to serve families with a full range of breastfeeding needs, including high risk situations. Their education is not limited to basic breastfeeding help, but also includes the health sciences such as biology, human anatomy and physiology, infant/child growth and development, nutrition, clinical research, intensive lactation studies, and basic life support (among many others). Additionally, before an IBCLC candidate can take the certification exam, they must document a minimum number of supervised clinical lactation contact hours.
This combination of academic knowledge, clinical training, and testing are the defining characteristics of IBCLCs, experts in lactation. Not just basic breastfeeding helpers or educators, you’ll find IBCLCs working in hospitals, private practices, and community health agencies where their clinical expertise helps them support families amidst any breastfeeding difficulties or high-risk situations. They work closely to coordinate care with physicians, midwives, chiropractors, dietitians, and other healthcare professionals, providing full-circle care for families.
It takes an entire community to create a cultural environment that advocates for breastfeeding. In 2011, the US Surgeon General, Dr. Regina Benjamin, issued the Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding, and challenged the entire nation to remove obstacles to breastfeeding, including ensuring access to services that are provided by IBCLCs. IBCLCs collaborate with families, social agencies, businesses, and policy makers to meet the nation’s breastfeeding and lactation needs through implementation of evidence-based and financially-feasible lactation policies and programs, as well as reducing the marketing of infant formula products.
The health care implications from infant feeding methods are profound. From ear infections to asthma, from obesity to SIDS, in 2007, a study published in Pediatrics (the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics) estimated that if 90% of families breastfeed for 6 months, the United States would save $13 billion and prevent 911 deaths per year (Bartick 2010). That’s just for infants and doesn’t include the health savings for mothers who breastfeed; such savings include reproductive cancers, depression, and heart disease, among others.
We’re fortunate in the greater Spokane/Coeur d’Alene area to have access to some fabulous IBCLCs. To find an IBCLC in your area, visit the International Lactation Consultants Association website.
Bartick, M., & Reinhold, A. (2010). The burden of suboptimal breastfeeding in the United States: a pediatric cost analysis. Pediatrics, 125(5), e1048–1056. doi:10.1542/peds.2009-1616
Bonuck, K. A., Trombley, M., Freeman, K., & McKee, D. (2005). Randomized, controlled trial of a prenatal and postnatal lactation consultant intervention on duration and intensity of breastfeeding up to 12 months. Pediatrics, 116(6), 1413–1426. doi:10.1542/peds.2005-0435
Guise, J.-M., Palda, V., Westhoff, C., Chan, B. K. S., Helfand, M., & Lieu, T. A. (2003). The effectiveness of primary care-based interventions to promote breastfeeding: systematic evidence review and meta-analysis for the US Preventive Services Task Force. Annals of family medicine, 1(2), 70–78.