When the Indigo Girls sing, “It took a long time to, become the thing I am to you” clearly they aren’t talking about studying to become an IBCLC, but it certainly applies. As parents go through their own breastfeeding journeys some realize they want to help other people as well. They often start out in Peer-to-peer support, such a vital resource for new families, and soon begin to think about increasing their knowledge and expertise by becoming an IBCLC. Since I did not start out as an RN, nor in a peer support organization, I often have inquiries from people who are interested in chatting with me about the process. Just in the past few months, several women have contacted me to chat so I thought it was the perfect time to write about the process of becoming an IBCLC for someone who is not an RN.
There are many blogs out there describing the various pathways to certification and, as always, it’s important to become completely familiar with the information provided by IBLCE. I’m going to focus on Pathway 3: Mentorship, as that is the route I took to certification. When people reach out to me for information, it is not so much for the facts and details, but rather the experience, the personal take on the journey.
The three criteria IBLCE lists are Health Sciences Education, Lactation Specific Education, and Lactation Specific Clinical Experience. Since the IBCLC exam is the last step, I will add that as the fourth component.
Health Sciences Education - You will need to determine which courses you are missing based on your own college education. Eight of the courses must be for college credit; the other six may be continuing education.
*Tip* Start gathering your transcripts early to ensure you have proof of all courses to fulfill the education requirement.
Lactation Specific Education - All IBCLC candidates, regardless of which Pathway they choose, are required to take at least 90 hours in lactation and breastfeeding education. IBLCE does not recommend specific courses, nor do they approve them in any way. It is your responsibility to be sure the course you take meets the requirements as outlined in the IBLCE Detailed Content Outline.
I’ll save the steps of setting up a private practice for another post. That has its own pitfalls and triumphs!
Hopefully I’ve given you some insight into the process of becoming an IBCLC through Pathway 3. Get to know the Pathway 3 Plan Guide well. Know all your requirements for education, for clinicals, for having your plan approved (you have to submit it to IBLCE), and all your dates. Don’t forget to keep track of all your education along the way in case you are audited. None of the steps are hidden, but you are responsible for keeping on top of all dates and requirements.
If you are thinking about becoming an IBCLC, what is your biggest concern?
Ohhhh, We’ve Got Trouble, My Friends, right here in River City!
...With a capital T and that rhymes with B and that stands for Bottle!
You’ve gotten breastfeeding off to a great start; baby is happy, healthy, and gaining well. You’re feeling great about your breastfeeding relationship and that awesome milk you provide. A couple months down the road you decide to give baby and bottle, and she refuses!
For some families, bottles are essential for when the nursing parent goes back to work. For others, it may not be needed every day, but parents want to have some time to run errands, go to appointments, spend time with friends, and be able to leave baby at home. So what do you if baby won’t take a bottle?
Bottles & Milk
Alternatives to Bottles
Offering the Bottle
Some babies choose not to take a bottle. For short periods of time, they may not need to have milk. For extended time, they may choose to go without milk when away from the breast, and get all their milk in the evening and overnight. This situation may not be ideal, and may be more tiring for the nursing parent, but fortunately baby is still getting all his nutrients and is happy during the day.
Take your time
Your baby cannot be forced into taking a bottle through hunger and persuasion. You may have to work on it over time. It’s ok to let baby play with the bottle and nipple in her mouth, getting used to the idea.
All of these tips are for babies refusing the bottle out of preference for feeding at the breast. If it seems your baby is struggling with a bottle for other reasons, please speak with an IBCLC or your pediatrician to rule out anatomical concerns. Some IBCLCs (including myself) do bottle consults to work with your baby and help you develop a plan for guiding your baby towards taking a bottle. Bottle refusal is yet another time you are not alone. Always reach out for help.
I’ve also included this information in the attached PDF for easy printing and reference.
I am thrilled to share that I am now an in-network provider with Aetna and its subsidiaries. Aetna members are eligible for up to six lactation consults, with no out-of-pocket costs.
While I am happy to be park of the insurance network, I know many of my clients, and many of you out there, are members of other insurance providers. So what does that mean for you? Can you get your lactation consult covered by insurance?
For many new parents, having access to a consult with an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) is a crucial step in continuing their breastfeeding journey. Several years ago, breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling were added to the Affordable Care Act. This change in insurance law has made it possible for more parents to get the care they need, however, there are some bumps in the road and coverage is not always available. Understanding how lactation care and insurance intertwine can be confusing, so hopefully I can shed some light on the issues and provide not only resources for getting your consult covered, but also an inside look into the issues facing IBCLCs.
As previously mentioned, if you are unsure of the coverage extended to you, call your insurance company, and reach out to a local IBCLC for guidance. The insurance market is ever-changing. While we don’t know what changes will unfold in the next few years, IBCLCs will continue to promote lactation coverage for all families to ensure equitable care for everyone.
...a very good place to start. When we sing we begin with Do Re Mi, when we breastfeed we begin with position, latch, suck.
Welcome to the Lactation Life blog! Since this is my first blog post, I thought the perfect topic to discuss is Getting off to the Right Start in Breastfeeding. If you’re reading this post, you have probably already decided to breastfeed. You may be aware of the many benefits to both baby and lactating parent, and you’re looking for guidance on those first hours and days after birth. Becoming a new parent can be overwhelming, and while we ultimately learn by doing, there are a few things to know going into it so that we can be more prepared.
You’ll hear people say that breastfeeding always hurts at first and you just need to tough it out. Please do not suffer through pain! Yes, there may be some discomfort at first, however, pain is a sign of an issue. If you are having trouble latching, experiencing pain, or baby is not gaining weight, seek the help of an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). An IBCLC is specially trained to help guide you through what is normal, assess you and baby, and work with you to determine the issues and solutions.
Breastfeeding is a natural part of life, but that doesn't mean there isn't a learning curve. I often tell parents that walking is natural too, but we fall down as we learn to walk. Seek guidance and help when needed, give it time to all come together, and enjoy those quiet moments with your newborn.
Cynthia Bischoff, IBCLC, is the owner and provider at Lactation Life, offering lactation consults in Maryland.