Lactation Improvement Network of Kentucky
Contact: Cerise Bouchard FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
2013 IBCLC DAY
March 6, 2013 Day to Recognize Breastfeeding Professionals
When a mom has a question about breastfeeding, she will often turn first to family or friends. However, when she is facing a big problem or has few others to turn to, a breastfeeding mother will call on an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant® (IBCLC®). March 6 is IBCLC Day, celebrated with an international theme of “Connect with IBCLCs, the Experts in Breastfeeding Care.”
There are 151 IBCLCs in Kentucky, nearly tripling since 2002. IBCLCs have extensive training in breastfeeding care through coursework and clinical practice, and have passed an internationally-recognized exam. They come from many backgrounds, including but not limited to nursing, dietetics, medicine, and mother-to-mother support such as La Leche League and WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counseling. IBCLCs take their initial interest in breastfeeding families and expand that into professional expertise to help mothers manage a wide variety of complex breastfeeding situations.
Although most Kentucky IBCLCs work in hospitals, others work in health departments, physician’s offices, or their own private lactation consulting practice. They provide families with prenatal counseling in OB offices, childbirth education classes, and prenatal breastfeeding classes; immediate help in learning breastfeeding after the birth of the baby; and on-going help and problem-solving as breastfeeding continues and the baby grows.
Kentucky’s “Strategic Plan for Improving Breastfeeding Rates in Kentucky,” a collaborative effort between the Lactation Improvement Network of Kentucky (LINK) and the Kentucky WIC Program (WIC) recognizes the importance of IBCLC care in increasing breastfeeding rates. The Strategic Plan seeks to improve access to IBCLC care in Kentucky by establishing insurance reimbursement for breastfeeding care, establishing outpatient clinical lactation services, increasing postpartum breastfeeding visits, increasing the number of IBCLCs practicing in Kentucky, and increasing employer lactation programs.
“Kentucky is fortunate to have this expertise,” said Glenda Adams, President of the Kentuckiana Lactation Improvement Coalition. “An IBCLC can help mothers learn the facts about how breastfeeding works and succeed in her breastfeeding goals. We empower women and save babies.” IBCLCs also help build the entire support system by training other health workers in evidence-based breastfeeding care, improving policies and practices at hospitals and clinics, collaborating with peer counselors, and consulting with businesses to support breastfeeding employees.
“Many of the mothers I assist are the first ones to choose breastfeeding in their family,” said Doraine Bailey, IBCLC, of the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department’s Breastfeeding Support Service. “When they come to one of our free prenatal breastfeeding classes or call our Breastfeeding Warm Line, I give them facts so they can understand breastfeeding and de-mystify all of the stuff they’ve heard. It helps that mothers can learn from a healthcare professional who can give them ‘best practices’ in breastfeeding; mothers use that knowledge to encourage their own family and friends to be supportive of their choice to breastfeed.”
IBCLC care is making a difference. In 2011, nearly 60% of Kentucky babies started out breastfeeding, an all-time high. Those hospitals who staff IBCLCs tend to have higher breastfeeding rates. “Getting a good start in the hospital is so important,” said Bailey. “When hospitals put babies skin-to-skin with their mothers right away at birth, keep mothers and babies together during their stay, and have experts in breastfeeding like IBCLCs to help moms and babies learn good skills from the start, babies breastfeed longer and mothers are more confident.”
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To find an IBCLC near you, visit www.ILCA.org and follow the “Find a Lactation Consultant” link.