The journey of becoming an IBCLC is not an easy one. It’s expensive (we are talking thousands here), it’s time consuming (again thousands of hours), and it takes a lot of dedication, and you’re not going to become mega rich by taking this role on, (certainly not in the UK). It really is a passion kind of role.

I achieved the goal of becoming an IBCLC and I’m so proud to be one. Little did I realise the slight rollercoaster of emotions I would feel after finding out I had passed..

As an IBCLC and a breastfeeding councillor I have to be very careful not to mix the hats. This is quite a tightrope to walk to begin with. It’s important I’m not seen to be getting work directly from my volunteer role. This is where it gets a little difficult at times on my part, when you are a volunteer in the breastfeeding community and passionate you become some what of a “known person” within that community inevitably where you will be “working”. Without realising you shouldn’t mix the two the community, out of the kindness of their hearts, might tell people about you and your dual roles, they might also do it at the most inconvenient moment (again not their fault!). This really is unavoidable at times and tiring to field off constantly without sounding upbrupt at my end. It’s something I will have to come to terms with because of the passion I have for the organisation I am a breastfeeding councillor for.

The two roles are different though, as a breastfeeding councillor I facilitate groups, go on the helpline and help one to one on a level and help in a national role or two that is less full on than if I was employed as an IBCLC. As an IBCLC it would be a thorough check of the mothers medical history, a visual examination of you and your baby and their oral anatomy and function and follow up contact with a thorough report written up and shared with you and even sometimes your doctor along with referals to process if wanted along with many hours of preparation. In a way I become available at your beck and call because I have become “employed” by you which doesn’t happen so much in the volunteer role and, I can often also pass it on to somebody else within my organisation if it becomes too much for me.

Something I’ve seen recently is this difficulty becoming an issue for other IBCLCs in different volunteer breastfeeding roles that they have ultimately had to “hang up their hat” for, after dedicating countless hours of their time day in day out (often year in year out), they write their goodbye “resignation” and get a half hearted “heres your coat” type reply. I’m going out on a limb here to call this out as not ok. We need to support not just the breastfeeding women in the community, but also the people volunteering, and we MUST thank them with words appropriately and carefully (words really matter). We are a support community and we must make sure we supoort as many aspects of it as possible.

Sometimes we end up feeling like the bady for becoming more educated in our role and being pushed out because we chose to take the next step in the studying level of this profession and in effect dedicate our lives to this role, doesnt quite seem right.

Along side that joining a new collection of “colleagues” not all sharing the same philosophy as yourself can be quite a hard adjustment. I’ve clearly been spoilt in my voluntary role with regards to this.

All the breastfeeding support roles should compliment eachother, and we should really try and work out hardest to work together. It would be nice if IBCLCs were given a little more breathing space and not cut off quite so quickly at times and it would be nice if they were thanked for the voluntary work they have done if they can no longer do it (I promise this bit isn’t about me right at this moment but see it as an issue to raise have read some things recently).

Most of us want to simply help women to reach their feeding goals and we became highly skilled to enable us to do just that. We’ve made a career with this skill because all other forms of skilled help like this is paid for; learning to dance, all the medical things we get from the NHS are in effect are paid for with our taxes, dentistry, physiotherapy, counselling, personal trainer, baby massage etc; we pay for all these skilled things yet skilled breastfeeding support doesn’t warrant it apparently?

Breastfeeding aint easy, our stats show that.. women start out wanting to breastfeed and then they get tripped up constantly by ill informed medical professionals and other people they come into contact with who all give them different information and often unhelpful.
IBCLCs are part of the bigger picture alongside breastfeeding counsellors in breastfeeding peer supporters. We are there to give consistent information and we are there to offer a next level of skill that will often get to the crux of a situation, which can then often be supported well by the breastfeeding counsellors and peer supoorters. We are all a team and we all have our special merits.

The take away from this blog perhaps is use your words wisley. Thank those that need to be thanked, even if you didn’t do it at the time you can still do it now.

And remember, we are all in the team we are all working together to achieve that one main aim, helping the mother to achieve her breastfeeding goals. You might be doing it in a volunteer capacity, thank you for the time and effort you put in to it out of the kindness of your heart. Please know that even the IBCLC is doing it with the same heart and is able to provide a higher blanket of support to take the strain off the volunteer sector and help reduce your burn out at times because of gaining a wage from it (even if that wage doesn’t put dinner on the table).

Basically you are all wonderful and thank you for being part of this amazing, hard working community with me.

Over and out, The Boob Lady

Becoming an IBCLC, wonderful with a little dose of discomfort; Thank you’s Matter.

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