We are starting to notice a trend in inquiries about the lactation field here at Nurture Columbus. First of all, we are so excited! We need more great professionals entering this field. We need more diversity, advocacy, and quality care. Second, we know this isn’t an easy field to “break into.” So, please, if it’s your passion, keep knocking on doors, keep studying, and keep persisting!
This field is relatively new. There is not a plethora of colleges offering coursework or fieldwork with a certification at the end. In that respect, it takes some ambition on the candidates part to find coursework, mentors, and intern hours. The gold standard in lactation is the International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). Both myself and Allyson are IBCLC certified. We recertify every 5 years with continuing education and every 10 years by sitting for our board exam through the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE). While pursuing IBCLC certification is not an easy or quick process, it is well respected throughout the medical community and provides a high standard of care.
I (Julie) first became aware of the professional role of a Lactation Consultant during a lecture about breastfeeding given by my Maternal and Child Health professor in graduate school. I had a list of areas I might want to specialize in written in a notebook, and a career in lactation soon became all I could think about. While I finished my graduate program, I called and emailed and begged for anyone to give me a chance, to tell me the “how to” on becoming an IBCLC. Eventually, I found a program and a mentor willing to take a chance on me. At the time, my non-RN background seemed limiting, job opportunities unlikely, and lack of personal maternal experience inhibiting; but I was young, determined, and full of spirit, so I followed my passion. I went through Pathway 3 with Lactation Education Resources (LER). I learned from the most brilliant group of women and to this day am overflowing with gratitude for the chance they took on me. I took many courses with LER and completed an over 500 hour internship of hands on learning in hospital postpartum, outpatient, and NICU departments, as well as private practice.
Allyson, on the other hand, pursued her career as an IBCLC after she had children and became a La Leche League Leader, discovering the great need for professional support aligned with her growing desire to help families beyond a volunteer capacity. During her years of providing mother to mother support through La Leche League, she was able to begin developing her lactation skill set and earn the required hours needed to sit for the IBLCE exam through Pathway 1. Her education to become a Physical Therapist years before fulfilled all of the coursework criteria, and has complemented her practice as a Lactation Consultant as she incorporates optimal development for baby into each consultation.
One thing I love about being a part of Nurture Columbus is that we build each other up in our day to day operations. We also want to see the field of Lactation Consultants grow and are not threatened by new talent arising, but rather look forward to practicing alongside of you all!
Are you local and looking for hours towards an IBCLC certification? Nurture Columbus may be the right fit for you. We currently can handle one intern at any given time, and can provide limited hours per week depending on your availability and our home visit schedule. We strongly believe that we are a good option to complement another source of mentoring/intern hours. It is ideal to learn from a variety of sources and in a variety of settings. This includes: hospitals, outpatient clinics, WIC services, NICUs, and other private practice home based options.
Explore all of your options. If you feel like you would be a good fit as an intern for Nurture Columbus, send us your Resume/CV, including your relevant education and experience. (Bonus if you have a passion for research!) We encourage you to check out your pathway options via IBLCE and begin any college course work and/or lactation education before pursuing an internship spot. Another good first step is to go to Ohio Lactation Consultant Association (OLCA) meetings to network and learn with other lactation professionals (they also provide a nice post on becoming an IBCLC here).
We look forward to fostering and working alongside new talent!
About the author: Julie Oberholzer is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) with Nurture Columbus, in Columbus, Ohio. With her background in Public Health and Lactation, she enjoys meeting with parents and new babies, helping them on their feeding journey and supporting them as they find their new normal.