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So, What is a Lactation Consultant Anyway?

Updated: Mar 25, 2021

A quick introductory blog to introduce myself and my speciality. I’m Amanda, mum of 2 living in Chester. I am an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) working in both private practice and for the NHS.

So what is that exactly?

Well, an IBCLC is someone who has gained the highest regarded qualification in infant feeding support and is recognised worldwide. It is the gold standard.

How did you achieve this?

It took a long time! I spent several years supporting families as Peer Supporter and then landed a job as a Maternity Support Worker in a home birth team, specialising in breastfeeding support.

During this time I was studying, HARD, to fine tune my knowledge and prepare for my exam. I literally spent hours every night revising. As I do not come from a medical background, I also had to pass 14 college level classes in Health Sciences. Before taking my exam I had to complete 90 hours of lactation specific education and provide 1000 hours of breastfeeding support. This whole process took years. The final exam was 4 hours long and the wait to find out if I had passed was TORTURE! However, it was all worth it as I passed with flying colours!

So, you just help people feed their baby, how hard can that be?

*best polite smile* Yes, I do help people to feed their baby, but it is not that simple. The breastfeeding dyad can be a complicated one. I do not just offer support with position and attachment, although this is vitally important, I offer clinical support and evidence based information. My support is in-depth and total unique to the dyad I am helping. Supporting families through pain, tongue tie, cleft palates, slow weight gain, low supply, medical conditions, disabilities and mental health issues, to name just a few.

Can’t I just do to a support group?

Yes, absolutely, in fact I actively encourage this, anyone who has worked with me knows I always sign post to local groups. I was a peer supporter for years and admire the mums who give up their time for free to support other mums. Support groups are great places to meet new friends. Breastfeeding peer support aims to link mothers who want to breastfeed to others who have personal experience and some training, they are fantastic listeners and really empower mums. However, they do have their limitations. They cannot give in depth clinical support and are not experts in breastfeeding. * *

Why did you train?

My first breastfeeding journey was a bit of a nightmare! We suffered through multiple bouts of mastitis, bleeding nipples, slow weight gain, tongue tie, nipple shields, thrush and extreme pressure to stop feeding. I visited groups, googled everything but I was really lacking that in depth support I was looking for. Mental health just about intact, we battled through but I did not want anyone else to have to go through the same thing. Surely succeeding in breastfeeding shouldn’t feel like a war!

My second journey was simpler but not without issues. This time I had mastitis twice, thrush and another baby with a tongue tie. However, this time I saw an IBCLC. The difference this made was incredible and we had a lovely 3 year breastfeeding journey. Decision made! I could not bare the thought of anyone having to go through some of the struggles we had and vowed that I would become an IBCLC.

So here I am!

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