Becoming A Breastfeeding Counselor? Apparently Not! UPDATE.

I just opened my email a few minutes ago — about three hours after my post this morning on not hearing from Breastfeeding USA regarding becoming a breastfeeding counselor. This is the response I received:

Thank you for sharing your story, and linking us to your blog. What a fantastic resource! It is wonderful to hear that you are interested in supporting mothers, and are in fact, doing so. Best wishes on your current path to becoming an IBCLC. Mothers need more women like you on their side. Thank you for your input about our Breastfeeding Counselor program. We appreciate that there are many ways to help mothers breastfeed, and the more people who are educated about breastfeeding management and are actively serving mothers, the better. This we know is especially true in populations that are currently under served. Breastfeeding USA Breastfeeding Counselors, peer counselors, and other mother to mother volunteers have a unique role in breastfeeding support. Research has shown that “mother to mother” is an especially effective way of providing information and support to breastfeeding mothers. Seeing or simply talking to other breastfeeding mothers increases self esteem and self reliance, assisting mothers in reaching their breastfeeding goals. While we understand the importance of more people having the skills to offer general breastfeeding support, our current focus is providing evidence-based information and support, mother to mother.

Breastfeeding USA offers a wide variety of ways to volunteer, and new opportunities continue to emerge as we expand our programs. While you would not currently qualify to become a Breastfeeding Counselor, we certainly would
welcome your experience and expertise if you wished to volunteer in another capacity. Please respond to this email if you are interested in learning more.

Thank you again for writing us and I hope to hear from you soon.

Warmest Regards,

Jolie Black Bear

for Breastfeeding USA

So in a nutshell this is what I hear. The only reason you cannot qualify as a breastfeeding counselor is because you don’t have children. Period. We’re gonna ignore your a passion and commitment to help ending a long list of health disparities that can be thwarted through no other way than breastfeeding, and we will also be ignoring the fact that a large population has unfair marketing tactics thrown their way and an actual physical person who can be a great representative is beneficial and necessary. And even though research has shown that people are not breastfeeding their children in any substantial amount and are dying, we don’t really care because if we did then we would work at getting more people to pitch in regardless of their child status.

One of the reasons I love the field of anthropology is that it has given me an complete and utter understanding that we are not as different as we have made ourselves out to be (not that this is exclusive of anthropology, but it’s something we highly emphasize)! This can be said in most areas of humankind and in our various cultural practices and cultural traditions. And even within the differences that do exist, they should be used as a way to examine and recognize that we can all come together, learn from and understand each other and work towards the common good, and rituals such as breastfeeding can be shared among different members of various cultures. Our society constantly want to place distinctions to organize and categorize each other so we are more comfortable at labeling those who are different and place them where we feel they do not belong — I remind you of the way racial difference was categorized so long ago, and how it continues to be categorized today. This is also seen in the way we have categorized sexuality and various other characteristics and groups. We love segregation. In this case, we receive the message that only nursing mothers need concern themselves with nursing mothers, without recognizing more people can and should help out — especially since the circumstances are dire.

I still stand by my initial argument — It is through the implementation of these types of discriminatory and divisive tactics where organizations like Breastfeeding USA claim to want to help end social and health disparities, yet instead show how they are directly compliant with their perpetuation.

I have not responded to the email.

11 thoughts on “Becoming A Breastfeeding Counselor? Apparently Not! UPDATE.

  1. You could get your CLC from Baby Friendly-Mass,you can use their cerps toward your certification.We have decided to invite you to join the Indiana Black Breastfeeding Coalition(We made you a Jr.Hoosier) So now you are part of a Breastfeeding Coalition.We will assign you a mother to be Bosom Buddy with,and I will oversee the counsel myself.But you have to be prepared to take calls 24/7 the first 2

  2. Oh WOW!! Thank you so much, Terry!! You don't know how you just made my day! This is fantastic. I would love for you to fill me in on Jr. Hoosier and all this entails!! I did email the Washington Coalition and am did hear back and I see they have a ton of resources and the coalition is HUGE. The lady who emailed me said as far as she knows there are no Black IBCLCs in the state!!

  3. Washington has a great coalition ask if someone can mentor you.Also check to see how many black Peer Counselors WIC statewide has and contact one of them.The Leleche L is another source to get clinical hours.they are the most prestigious and oldest organization.They have a LL Leaders program.Not sure you if you needed to have breastfed.check on it.

  4. Hey I would like to be a part of the Indiana coalition too! Can I apply?

    Acquanda… there are programs out there where you don't have to be a bfing mother, such as the one I'm taking at Childbirth International, and their program is very comprehensive. Would that be something you might want to do? At this time I believe they are the only program out there that lets you pay in

  5. Terry, I contacted the WA breastfeeding coalition and received a response the first time, but haven't heard back, so I'm going to try again. LLL does not allow any type of volunteering w/out having breastfed.

  6. Thanks for the info, Tina! I know LLL won't allow. They were one of the first organizations I checked out. Not that I want to be a leader or anything. I googled Breastfeeding Action Project and only found a blog talk radio, which I'm so happy I did because I didn't know who you were at first. LOL. Can you send some more info my way? I'm will also look into childbirth international

  7. Oh and as far as the Indiana Black Breastfeeding Coalition, you should go to their website and check em out. Very Impressive track record. You could ask about how to join. This is so awesome!

  8. Hey Acquanda! I’ve been looking for you on Facebook, did you change your FB name? I search you and find nothing, and I know you’re on my friend list. I’m trying to send you the WIC peer counseling manuals and training program.

    the Breastfeeding Action Project doesn’t have its own web page right now. We have the Breastfeeding in Action page on Facebook. We haven’t made any firm dates for teaching the WIC program which is why I said that if you wanted to start studying the WIC manuals you can download them immediately.

    I got to talk to the person who helped to develop the WIC program and she explained to me how ALL the traditional peer counselor programs are designed to bring in mothers who are currently breastfeeding or formerly have breastfed because the evidence shows that mother-to-mother support is most effective for breastfeeding helping.

    The good thing is that there are several programs out there that DO NOT require you to be a mother or a breastfeeding mother. The program at CBI is one of them. There is also a local program that is training this month that allows anyone at all the ability to be a counselor.

    You could go the other route and become a lactation EDUCATOR, which is a person teaching about breastfeeding. To educate you don’t have to have done it. CAPPA has a lactation educator program. CBI happens to be the only one I know of that is ongoing, you start at any time, and takes installment payments.

    FYI Breastfeeding USA is a group of mothers and former La Leche League leaders who wanted to start their own group. Their model closely resembles LLL, which is why they won’t allow you to get the training. I didn’t know that before, but now I guess I’ve been informed. I learned their whole history over the weekend and understand them a lot better.

    And as far as the credits go… none of them will get you any closer to the IBCLC unless you actually either work or volunteer in the field of lactation using the credentials. Only the accredited programs will get you education hours, and only directly working with mothers with a supervisor will get you the clinical hours. The mothers won’t care about your credentials as long as you can help them. The lower credentials will only allow you employment opportunities. You can learn the information without paying for any of them. The standard in the field is the IBCLC, and you’re already on your way to that. Hope this helps.

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