What Does an IBCLC Do?


It seems like yesterday I was sitting in a college classroom dreaming about the day I would be able to put all of that medical input overload to use. Never in my wildest dreams would I have seen myself here.

Many people are curious about what I do. As a breastfeeding consultant, I help prepare families for their journey, before baby comes. Once baby arrives, my real “job” happens. Breastfeeding journeys are beautiful, and hard, and wonderful, and emotional… and every journey is different. Some babies need a little more help figuring things out than others. That’s where I step in.

Not many people call on me just to let me know that things are going great! I get calls when mom gets home and is scared or overwhelmed by the responsibility of being the sole nutrition for her new little human. In her own home, I can sit with her, help her come up with a plan she is comfortable with, and offer her the assurance of one on one continued support.

I see babies who aren’t gaining weight for various issues. Their mothers have been told to quit breastfeeding. They’ve been told their milk is inadequate for their little one. This is where the clinical training of an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) is CRUCIAL. I was fortunate to work as a pediatric assistant, and respect that the clinical and natural must balance. We work together until baby is gaining weight at a healthy pace, and mom, baby, and pediatrician are happy.

I work with moms who need to induce lactation or are having trouble with milk production. Sometimes it’s to increase, sometimes it’s to decrease. Both can be difficult to manage. This isn’t an instant fix. We design a plan specific to her, we work together until she is confident, and until baby is thriving on a feeding plan.

I see moms who literally shed tears every time their little latches on. These sweet mamas aren’t whining. They have TRAUMA. They are suffering from cuts, bruises, open wounds. She needs to know WHY, and she needs to be better. We work together on a healing plan until breastfeeding is enjoyable for her again.

I see moms who are sick with breast infections and in need of medical attention. We work to figure out why it happened, how to fix it, and how to prevent it from happening again.

I’m sure at some point, everyone has heard the words “tongue-tie”. Breastfeeding advocates are often accused of blaming all things wrong with latch on a tongue-tie. I do agree, they can be over-diagnosed. Yet sometimes, they do need to be addressed. Years ago, I made the decision that I had to focus in on this hot topic. I determined that sometimes a clip isn’t the answer to resolve breastfeeding issues and that sometimes there are many pieces to the problem. I studied ways to troubleshoot. I learned about the function of the tongue and how a restriction can impact breastfeeding. The most valuable experience I gained was having the opportunity to work as an assistant to a frenotomy specialist, hands on. I have incredibly high expectations of how the procedure should be performed, and what breastfeeding should look like following a feeding. While I have developed a very conservative perspective on intervention, I am probably most passionate about this topic and want to make sure families are equipped with the proper knowledge and resources.

And sometimes, mom just needs someone to tell her that she is enough, and she can.

I love the way a mom looks at her baby the first time baby “gets it,” but my favorite part is getting to watch them grow together on their journey. I have worked with some amazing women over the past eight years.

How did I get here? Two years of Health Science, 1,000 hands-on clinical hours working with mamas and babies under direct supervision of two IBCLCs with 20+ years experience, nearly 100 education hours, studying endlessly and sitting for my board exam, and nearly 100 more hours for re-certification after five years in practice. All this just to become an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, but that is only part of the equation. I have studied under and alongside some wonderful IBCLC mentors and am not afraid to reach out to them when I have questions.

Of all the knowledge and skills I obtained through education, I learned about compassion and the importance of quality care from my own experience as a mom of a medically fragile little one. My journey with his amazing care team created the desire to pay it forward to other families.

But the ones who taught me most were the hundreds of mamas and babies that allowed me to be part of their breastfeeding journey over the past eight years. I have been blessed.

Breastfeeding and in need of some guidance? Want to get a head start on your breastfeeding relationship with an informative class? Learn more about Baby+Company’s services for new moms here.

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