In celebration of World Breastfeeding Awareness Week I wanted to share why I decided to become a Certified Lactation Educator Counselor (CLEC), what it entails, and provide information to those who are interested in pursuing this path.
I believe we go through challenges in life to overcome them, learn from them, and use those experiences to help others who are going through a similar process. Although breastfeeding is natural but it doesn’t always come easily. I thought because I read a breastfeeding book while I was pregnant and took a childbirth class; it meant that I was fully prepared. I learned that proper preparation includes breastfeeding education, such as taking a breastfeeding class from a qualified lactation educator, and lining up a good support system. Unfortunately, there’s really a limited amount of information given in standard medical and nursing training with regards to breastfeeding. New mothers are not often set up to succeed because they are not armed with the right information or don’t receive enough support.
My son and I experienced many breastfeeding challenges that lasted for the better part of a year. Although there were times I felt hopeless and wanted to give up, I was determined to carry on. My first lactation consultant (IBCLC) came to my house for the first few weeks. She taught me the basics, helped me understand why my babe was having trouble latching-on and worked with us to resolve the issue. I met with my second lactation consultant (IBCLC) at her breastfeeding center over the course of several months to work through other obstacles that presented such as recurrent plugged ducts, forceful let-down, oversupply, vasospasm, lactational adenoma and a very distracted baby who would only feed in the side-lying position! She was also able to support me going back to a full-time job so that I could express breast milk for my son while we were separated.
With their help, along with the love and support of my husband, my babe and I were able to work through these obstacles and go on to enjoy a very rewarding and mutually beneficial breastfeeding relationship. It feels only natural to help other women and families achieve their breastfeeding goals!
The CLEC program I took furnishes the basic information necessary to interact in the breastfeeding situation by assisting and encouraging the breastfeeding triad of mother, baby, and support person. I learned about the anatomy and physiology of lactation, early attachment of baby, hospital care, support during the postpartum stage, common concerns and solutions, and appliances and apparatuses used in breastfeeding. As a CLEC, I serve as a resource for accurate, evidence-based information to families, the public, and health care providers. I help my clients address common breastfeeding concerns and refer more complicated cases to a Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). I am also a continuous source of support, guidance and encouragement throughout the breastfeeding journey.
My friend Lara, CLEC and founder of Mama Pear Designs referred me to an excellent certification program that is offered through UCSD. The program is offered onsite or online which allows the course to be self-paced with the only deadline being at the end of the course and the clinical/internship hours can be completed locally. There are no prerequisites to the course, but it is a prerequisite for UCSD’s IBCLC program should you wish to continue on that path.
The course is taught by Gini Baker, RN, MPH, IBCLC. She is a well-respected expert in the field of Lactation, with more than two decades of experience working with mothers and babies. The course is made up of lecture, videos, assignments, exams, and clinical hours. The final assignment is writing a comprehensive teaching curriculum which prepares you to get out there and get started. I highly recommend this course to anyone with an interest in pursuing a path as a Lactation Education Counselor.
For more information about this program, check out Gini’s website and if you have any questions, feel free to contact me or leave a comment below.