For most new moms finding the right breastfeeding support can be very challenging. There is an alphabet soup of different credentials of breastfeeding helpers. How do you know what you’re looking for? Let’s break it down.
Mother to Mother Peer Support
These are people like La Leche League Leaders, Breastfeeding USA Counselors, and WIC Peer Counselors. These are mothers who have breastfed their children, they have a passion for supporting other moms. They have gone through some additional breastfeeding education as well as some training in supporting moms. These people will help support normal breastfeeding, and help provide you with referrals to other providers who can help with bigger problems.
These are people who are trained to teach moms about breastfeeding. They will come with credentials such as CLE, CLEC, CBE. These are people who can teach you about the normal progression of breastfeeding. They are not trained in clinical skills and can not provide hands on support.
Other Breastfeeding Specialists
These are people who have an interest in helping moms breastfeed. Many are on the pathway to becoming an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. Some just want to have a deeper knowledge of the field of lactation and use that information to support mothers. These helpers will bear the credentials like Certified Lactation Counselor, Certified Breastfeeding Specialist, or Certified Lactation Specialist.
International Board Certified Lactation Consultants
These are people who are expected to be able to help moms with a wide variety of breastfeeding difficulties. They may work in hospitals, clinics, or in private practice. They may have started as one of the other types of breastfeeding helper, continuing to learn and grow to help moms and babies with as much information and knowledge as possible. The IBCLC is the ‘gold standard’ of lactation care.
For some moms, general support is all you need. Others are just looking for some education. However if you do need clinical guidance and help, you want to look for an IBCLC. Every breastfeeding helper has different skill sets and a different personality, so finding the right person for you is very important.
For more information on exactly what the educational requirements of the different types of breastfeeding helper, check out this great document from the Massachusets Breastfeeding Coalition. Where have you found breastfeeding support?