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Is it Time for a Career in Lactation?

Maybe it's time for a new start and a career in lactation!

Have you been making plans for a career change? Are you looking for something new, something rewarding? Is it time for you to start a career in lactation?

Did you enjoy breastfeeding your child? Are you passionate about the importance of breastfeeding? Has it been a life-changing event for you? Do you talk breastfeeding with new moms you meet? When one of your friends (and possibly even your friends’ friends!) have questions about breastfeeding, are you the one they come to for help?

Whether you’re currently breastfeeding your child, or you weaned him several years ago, here are 6 reasons it may be time for you to go pro with a career in lactation.

It brings in some income

I can’t think of anyone who has gotten rich because of their expertise in breastfeeding and lactation. Yet, I believe it’s possible! Consider others who make a comfortable salary by being a bingo manager, winemaker, horse exerciser, elevator inspector, or enterostomal therapist. You don’t need a traditional job to make a good income.

You can work anywhere on the globe

Breastfeeding mothers and babies are everywhere! Mothers will need your help in the pediatric clinic in Missouri, the hospital in Hawaii, the village clinic in Ghana. It doesn’t matter wherever you land. A career in lactation could take you anywhere in the world, and the reverse is also true.

Volunteer opportunities abound

Every day accountants, teachers, architects and others who are qualified for a paid position offer their services as a volunteer. There is great satisfaction in giving your high level of expertise to those who may need it most, but cannot afford it. With a career in lactation, you could do the same.

It’s hard to imagine any greater satisfaction than engaging in volunteer work for breastfeeding mothers and infants in your community.

You can work in multiple settings

Do you like change?  You could work in a hospital, a public clinic, a private clinic, a private physician’s office, a milk bank … you could even teach classes for an organization, or establish your own clinical practice!

It is possible to integrate your lactation work into your existing work, whether it be as a doula, a childbirth educator, or something else. Amber Thomas spoke on my show about how she did that. She wanted to create packages to give clients, and this add-on was perfect for increasing her income and at the same time, meeting her clients’ needs.

You can support moms in life-changing ways

About thirty years ago, I helped a mother in my care to get her few-hours’-old baby to breastfeed. She was one of many, many mothers I have cared for over the years, and I don’t remember anything especially remarkable about what she needed or the help I provided.

So imagine my surprise and joy when I received a call from the “baby,” now a 30-year-old mother of a newborn. When she had trouble of her own, her mother told her – “Call Marie!”

I don’t doubt for a second that when you “go pro” in doing this work you love, you’ll have similar things happen!

Because you love it

As the old saying goes, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” Are you on fire with a love of breastfeeding? Are you eager to help mothers and babies in your community, or in the world? Are you eager to help anyone who needs help with breastfeeding?

Take it from me: Your passion will give you an unquenchable thirst to learn more for yourself, reach out more frequently to others, and move more boldly to establish breastfeeding as the societal norm. You’ll do whatever it takes because you’re on fire, and you can’t sit still or keep quiet.

If you answered “yes” to any of the questions I’ve posed, it may well be time to consider a career in lactation!

How do you help breastfeeding mothers you know? Have you ever considered going pro? Tell me in the comments area below!

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  1. Carol

    So, I’m new to this and I’m a little confused. Is this certification different from an IBCLC certification? If so, what types of jobs are available in this field as a Certified Lactation Consultant as opposed to an IBCLC? I’ve been volunteering with La Leche League and I just love interacting with the moms and their babies, and that’s what made me decide that I would love a career in a lactation field. Thank you so much.

    • Marie Biancuzzo

      Carol, hold on, hold on! Seemingly everyone gets confused on this alphabet soup! First, you said “this certification” and I’m assuming that you mean the certification that I discussed in the accompanying post, that is, Certified Clinical Lactationist (CCL). To my knowledge, there is no “Certified Lactation Consultant” unless it is the International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). However, there are more certified something-er-others than I can possibly keep name. Each has a different slant.

      So a simple explanation about the IBCLC. It has an international focus, and requires the candidate to complete 14 healthcare science courses (8 of them at the university or college level) and a specific number of clinical hours (more complicated than I can explain about the exact number) and 90 hours of lactation-focused education. The exam is administered only twice a year and costs about $680 for first-time test-takers in the US. I hold the IBCLC credential myself, and I have trained IBCLCs in one form or another for about 25 years. (At last count, I’ve trained about 5,000 currently-credentialed IBCLCs). I encourage the IBCLC credential, I do! However…..

      For some people, the IBCLC is way more than they need or want. They don’t care about the international focus. They don’t have the time or money to pursue the health sciences courses, especially those that are at the college level. They don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars to sit for a very rigorous exam. Etc. etc., you get my drift, it’s just too involved and too expensive.

      So, given all that I’ve heard from good people over the years, I created the CCL as a way to recognize those people who want less than the IBCLC credential but more than 45 hours of instruction. The CCL requires that candidates have 90 hours of instruction. (Which is also required for the IBCLC credential.) We feel that, if they have the 90 hours of lactation-focused education, they are all set up to do the IBCLC later, if they so choose.

      As for the job that someone can get with ANY of these credentials???? Very difficult to say, really. It varies from state to state here in the United States, and my guess is that it varies even more abroad. I can tell you, however, that if you are NOT a nurse, being an IBCLC or anything else is unlikely to gain you a position as a “lactation consultant” at a hospital. Other settings more likely. I would encourage you to read this post as you go along.

      A few days ago, I offered my free webinar, “6 Steps to Becoming a Lactation Consultant.” We offer it about once a month, and you’re welcome to sign up for the next one. For some people it’s a real eye-opener. The webinar helps them to know that they really want to pursue the IBCLC, or they really don’t. So please, do join me! It’s live, and I answer questions from participants!

      Great question, thank you for giving me the opportunity to respond!

    • Marie Biancuzzo

      Carol, I’d like to encourage you to subscribe to my blog. I proudly offer better free content that is of higher quality than other people charge for. It’s free, but takes less than 3 minutes of your time twice a week. If you’re a learner, you’ll enjoy this. Or, at least catch a few that have been very popular lately. Low milk supply, or allergies, and evidence for baby-led weaning.

    • Marie Biancuzzo

      Carol, can we take this conversation to email or phone or something? I woke up this morning realizing that yesterday, you participated in my Pathway 3 webinar, but you have La Leche League experience. I want to make sure you are clear on all of your options. Office is closed today, Thursday and Friday, but we will be checking email on and off.

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