I have been working for some time as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). Some of you may be very familiar with this terminology but for those of you who aren’t, I’d like to explain what it involves to become an IBCLC. Over many years an IBCLC must accumulate many, many hours (500 to 1000) in the 5 years prior to their application to sit the exam. We also have to have a qualification as a health professional and complete at least 90 hours of lactation specific education OR a candidate has to complete more extensive education in Health Sciences and Lactation. There is then an exam to sit which is held all over the world. It used to be only once per year but now is available twice a year. If you qualify to sit, with all of these prerequisites AND pass the exam then you can call yourself an IBCLC. That’s not the end of it though, we have to recertify every 5 years by CERPS (continuing education recognition points) and every 10 years by re-sitting the exam.
“As IBCLCs we have been certified as holding the highest standards in lactation and breastfeeding care worldwide!”
Why is it that we are not given the respect our position deserves?
The reason why I’m asking this, is that there are soooo…..many people who are giving Mothers advice about lactation and breastfeeding who have not had the education or the hands on experience that an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant has. I’m not saying that these people, mostly health professions, aren’t knowledgeable in their area of expertise, but I am saying that they are NOT the experts on lactation and breastfeeding.
This week alone I have listened so many Mothers as they have told me their breastfeeding stories. They were not all the same, so I really listened to what they were telling me so I could write a detailed history. They did not all look the same. Some of the Mothers had large breasts and some had small breasts. Some had nipple damage and some had pain but no damage. Some were struggling with their supply and others had “enough milk to feed a small country!” The babies were just as different. Some were relaxed but most were really, really stiff and “wired”. Some of them were putting on so much weight they looked like small buddhas and others were thin and worried-looking and constantly hungry. Some would scream in pain despite their parents’ care and attention.
“BUT……in one way they were exactly the same……every single one of these Mothers told me that there was something wrong……and I listened!!!”
The health professionals they had come across had not listened but they had also not helped. If they were not lactation and breastfeeding experts, why didn’t they refer the Mother and baby to someone who is, an IBCLC?
These are some of the things these Mums were told:
- “Stop seeing your IBCLC and Midwife, they’re just stressing you out!” – referring to and IBCLC identifying tongue and lip tie in a baby who couldn’t latch
- “Yes there are minor ties there but don’t worry about it, they don’t affect anything” – this baby had a tongue tie to the tip of her tongue and a lip tie covering her upper teeth! She hadn’t been able to feed at the breast without causing trauma and pain to her Mother.
- “Give your baby a few weeks and his mouth will be big enough for your nipple. In the meantime, you can give him a bottle.” – Midwife to a new Mum – baby was so restricted, he couldn’t open his mouth to latch or bottle feed.
- “You’re not trying very hard, are you?” – a Midwife to a Mother who had tried to latch her baby for 2 days, had bleeding nipples and was in excruciating pain.
- “You shouldn’t go and see a lactation consultant, they’ll just confuse you.” – a paediatrician to a Mother who was still trying so hard to breastfeed at the 6 week check.
- “I don’t know what you’re worried about, she’s putting on weight!” – a GP to a Mother who was constantly feeding her 6 week old baby.
- “Mum will probably ask about ties again but don’t listen to her, she’s just worried about nothing!” – a Midwife to another Midwife while handing over at the end of shift.
I’m not saying that any of these people are incompetent or not good at their jobs. They just need to listen to the Mother’s concerns and refer to someone who can help them.
If you are working with the Mother/baby dyad, please educate yourself on oral restrictions and stop listening to this, most ridiculous statement of all!!!!!
“Ties don’t exist, I don’t believe in them.”
We are not talking about a religion or some type of voodoo, we are talking about anatomy and function. There are so many research articles available on this subject and we have video showing how a baby who is not restricted latches and drinks at the breast and a video showing a baby who is restricted trying to latch and drink – not well.
There are so many Mothers of babies who have had their ties released. They are everywhere and they are commenting all over social media. Listen!!!! So many have had an amazing improvement in their breastfeeding relationship.
There are so many Mothers of babies who have NOT had their ties identified or released and some breastfeed ok but so many are in pain and struggling and anxious and depressed!!! If you listen to them when they are identified and treated, they are ANGRY that nobody checked, nobody helped them!!!!
“The Mothers will tell you “there is something wrong!!!””