Who is helping you?

It is important that you know who is trying to help you to breastfeed your baby.

There are different levels of breastfeeding qualifications and associated knowledge and skills. To make sure that you have access ot the right information and support, we have outlined the differences below.

Breastfeeding Peer Supporter

Also called: Breastfeeding Peer Counsellor, Peer Counsellor, Peer Helpers, Mother Supporter, Breastfeeding Buddy.
These are mums who have breastfed their own baby (usually no criteria as to how long) and want to support other mums. Peer supporters by definition aim to protect and promote breastfeeding within their local area, relating to mums from a similar culture. They provide information which encourages mums to make educated decisions about their personal feeding choices and reach their goals. Peer supporters draw on their personal experience, combined with a course of up to 10 weeks long (depending on the organisation) which covers a wide range of topics from social and economic issues to anatomy, counselling skills and understanding baby’s needs from infancy to toddlerhood.
A peer supporter shouldn’t be offering problem solving or counselling; their role is to give you support as a ‘well informed friend’, and will be able to point you in the right direction if you need more specialist help. Most organisations are very clear that their supporters are not insured to solve problems and clearly define what is within the remit of these mums.

Breastfeeding Counsellor

Also called: La Leche League Leader, Breastfeeding Consultant, Breastfeeding Supporter.
These are mums or health professionals who in addition to completing the outlined training, have breastfed their own baby for at least 6-9 months at the point of application (depending upon organisation). This includes exclusively breastfeeding until there was a nutritional need for other foods (i.e., about the middle of the first year for the healthy, full-term baby). Exact requirements vary from organisation to organisation.
It is important to note that the four main charities are the only recognised training providers in the UK. Unfortunately, there are online training courses which claim to offer the same qualification. These apparent qualifications, take less time to complete and only cover the basic level of breastfeeding knowledge. It is important to make sure that your breastfeeding counsellor has a qualification from either: the ABM, LLL, BFN, or NCT. You then ensure that you are getting fully trained and insured help.

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Meet our IBCLC Lactation Consultant:

Lactation Consultant

The term lactation consultant loosely refers to anyone who is working in the field of lactation, either as a volunteer or as a professional, but only the letters IBCLC after an individual’s name identifies that person with a recognized standard of independently measured competency in lactation.
A certified lactation consultant has met the strict criteria to apply for and passed, the examination set by the International Board of Lactation Consultants Examiners (IBLCE). “The IBLCE mission statement is to certify, by means of an internationally recognised examination, individuals who demonstrate their competence to practice as International Board Certified Lactation Consultants, providing quality care to babies and mothers world-wide” (ICLA 1995).
Re-certification, every 5 years, is mandated by the IBLCE thus ensuring continuing competence and up-to-date information. Only successful candidates may use the title ‘International Board Certified Lactation Consultant’, and they adhere to a Code of Ethics and work according to Professional Standards of Practice.
Lactation consultants may be mothers who have trained as breastfeeding counsellors and served extensively as a counsellor or midwives/doctors who also have extensive experience supporting mothers - both must have undertaken extensive further study, in the field of lactation, and use this knowledge along with their own aquired skills.
Many IBCLC’s are employed in the field of clinical lactation, work in hospitals, providing training to others i.e. midwives and other supporters and breastfeeding preparation classes. They may also run support groups and or offer private practice to support mothers (sometimes for a fee, so always check)
If you need help in hospital, ask for their Infant Feeding Coordinator and then check they are an IBCLC (or well on the way) once in the community, check titles and remember anyone who is qualified will have the appropriate badge/certificate to show you - if in doubt ASK!

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  Lactation Consultant training includes:
•Anatomy & Physiology
•Positioning & attachment
•Expressing & store of expressed breastmilk
•Breastfeeding and returning to work
•Why and how can employers support employed breastfeeding mothers
•Twins & multiple births
•Weaning & night feeding/weaning
•Introduction of solid foods
•Breastfeeding after Cesarean Section
•Ethics & confidentiality
•Counselling & listening skills including boundaries and reflective practice
•Leading a support group
•Premature babies
•Relactation
•Baby blues & PND
•Newborn behaviour and development
•Feeding patterns
•Crying, colic, reflux & sleep
•Medications & milk
•Problems: Nipple pain, tongue tie, mastitis, thrush etc
•Nutrition for the breastfeeding mother
•Special Circumstance eg Downs Syndrome, poor muscle tone etc
•Political and social issues surrounding breastfeeding
•Social & Environmental impact of breastfeeding
•Breastfeeding an older baby/infant & weaning
•Breastfed baby and allergies/intolerances
•Health impact of breastfeeding & risks of artificial feeding practices.