Sunday, January 10, 2010
Becoming a Lactation Counselor
"What is THIS?" you might be asking yourself?! It is a boob. A fake book. Sorry if it's offensive to anybody, but I thought it was too funny not to share. I was so excited to get this the other day, because now I have a boob model to use for my Lactation Counseling sessions. Woo-Hoo!! I don't have to grab myself anymore!!
I have met many mothers who have considered becoming Lactation Consultants. I, too, looked into this after nursing two babies, because I endured so many difficulties that I wanted to help other mothers. However, the amount of time and hours it takes to become a Lactation Consultant is overwhelming. Especially for a mom of young children. The next best thing is to become a Lactation Counselor (CLEC - Certified Lactation Educator-Counselor). A Lactation Counselor (also called a Lactation Educator) can teach classes and help mothers with breastfeeding, but agrees to refer harder cases to a Lactation Consultant. While a Consultant can get paid for going into homes and working in hospitals, Lactation Counselors are often paid to teach classes. All of the work I do with mothers on an individual basis is free, although some counselors charge for their services.
A Pregnancy Help Center in my area asked me if I would be interested in going through this program, since they had been given a grant to sponsor 3 people who wanted to be educated in this area. The State of California seems to be really pro-breastfeeding right now and is giving grants away to non-profits for this purpose. They sponsored me to go through the Lactation Counselor program at The University of California, San Diego. I was able to take the classes online, from the comfort of my home, and do my internship at a hospital close to my house. The cost is $695 plus the cost of books.
What does it take to be a Lactation Counselor? One long and tedious class with a LOT of homework, tests, and internship hours. But after about 4-5 months, you are done! You get a nice little certificate in the mail and a little broccoli pin to wear on your lapel (we use broccoli to demonstrate the milk ducts and how the breast works).
Now that I am an official CLEC, I volunteer to teach classes at our local Pregnancy Help Center. We deal with all types of women, from pregnant teenagers to women who have already had children. I also work with women in their homes, or they can come to my home to be observed and get help. I'm always ready to refer to a Certified Lactation Consultant when necessary and have information readily available. This field is very rewarding, especially when you see someone about to give up on breastfeeding get help, and then choose to continue breastfeeding!
I highly recommend this program and encourage anyone with an interest in Lactation Counseling to do this particular program online. The instructor is hilarious and will have you laughing so hard you're crying, right in your own home. She is great. If you have any questions, just let me know!