Monday, May 10, 2010

Certified Lactation Counselor

Last month, my wonderful husband watched the girls for a week while I attended Healthy Children's Center for Breastfeeding's Certified Lactation Counselor course in Dixon, IL. I had been interested in taking the class for the past few years. My one goal, while living back in the States, was to take this class. It was a little bit of a challenge to attend because Matt is in school full-time for the Army and is getting his Master's degree on the side.

This Spring, I was accepted to Union Institute and University. They have a B.S. degree in Infant-Maternal Health - Lactation Consulting. I transferred as many college credits that I could and will begin the mostly online degree in the Fall. The CLC class was one of the classes I needed to complete my degree.

I didn't post about the class earlier because I did not know if I passed! It was a week-long class (8:15am-4:30pm daily). It was exhausting - but so much fun. I didn't know there was so much information about breastfeeding and formula use. At the end of the week, we had two tests. One was a competency in which you watch a video on a woman latching on her baby and fill out a form (the form helps the mother identify her problems and what to work on until you meet with her again for follow-up). The second test is a multiple choice test. Since that test is not on the computer, you must wait six-eight weeks to find out if you passed! Since I'm moving overseas soon, I had to find out sooner than that (If I didn't pass - I could retake the test within a year - but, couldn't do that while living abroad!) and was able to get my tests graded early.

I was very nervous as to whether I passed or not! I had so much help here at home with the girls for the week that I was away. How would I explain to everyone that I failed and had to go back to Illinois (to a different test site) to retake the test and, once again, ask for their help?

I had no need to worry though. I passed the tests and am now a Certified Lactation Counselor through 2013! Since we're moving to Germany and will, most likely, not be living in a place where I could get a job doing this, I will try to find a way to get some mentoring done once or twice a week at a nearby military hospital (the nearest military hospital is about an hour away, I believe, so, while that's too far for a daily job - mentoring a couple times a week may work out). I need mentoring hours as part of my degree. I'm determined to find a way to mentor on a regular basis.

I thought I'd highlight just a couple of things that were touched on in class that was new(er) information for me. Feel free to message me personally with any questions, requests for more information, etc.:

  • When teaching a breastfeeding class or counseling expectant parents, highlight the risks of formula before explaining the benefits of breastfeeding. Many people already know the great benefits of breastfeeding, however, most do not, due to the very effective formula marketing in this country, know the risks of formula feeding - some of which may not show up in a child for decades. Explaining risks of formula use is more effective than explaining benefits of breastfeeding.
  • Have a hands-off approach. When helping a mother latch on her baby properly, observe and offer suggestions rather than try to get the baby latched on properly by using your hands.

That's all I'm really going to share right now. The class was an evidence-based class. We went over meta-analysis study after study. I learned so much about formula and the long-term effects of it. I've been reading over articles on how to explain these things to parents without making them feel guilty. In many countries, breastfeeding is just something that you do. Most everyone does it, at least for a few months, and often into toddlerhood. Here, in the U.S., it's quite a different story and it's frustrating that we have to be so careful as to how we present information. The fear of offending or unintentionally guilt-tripping parents is great. This is where mentoring will come in handy. I'm not always the most tactful person and know that mentoring is something that is an absolute must if I'm going to be able to truly help parents.

I love a good journey so I am excited to have the certification finished and mentoring and online college classes to look forward to!


Angie said...

That's great, Natalie. I didn't realize that you were doing this as part of a bigger degree. Good for you. Perhaps you would be able to do some mentoring at Heidelberg, rather than the hospital, perhaps through the parent support program (part of ACS) or the clinic.

Jay and Amie said...

Natalie - I'm so proud of you & glad that you passed & are on your way to the career of your dreams!

Anderson Family said...

Natalie, I'm really happy for you. It's funny because I was telling Danny the other day that when the girls are finally in school and I have some time that I would like to become a lactation consultant. When you have some time I have some questions for you. Congrats again.