I share here some of my guiding principles and core beliefs about breastfeeding and the role of lactation support, so that potential clients can know where I’m coming from and make an informed decision about hiring me.
First, please understand that while I care deeply about many things related to breastfeeding, I do NOT care whether or not YOU breastfeed. Or how you breastfeed. Or how long you breastfeed. Or how exclusively you breastfeed.
In my eyes, you are the expert on your body, your baby, your family, and your life, and that means you are the expert and the decider about everything related to how you feed your baby. The only exception to this core value is conduct suggesting child abuse or neglect; North Carolina law mandates that I report this to the county department of social services.
My role as your lactation consultant is to do what I can to ensure that:
- you know what your options are
- you get the information that you need to pursue the options you choose
- you and/or your baby receive appropriate clinical care and treatment, from me or from other members of your healthcare team
- you feel heard, respected, affirmed, and supported throughout our client-consultant relationship
As an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), I also have a duty to uphold specific professional standards. My clients are entitled to know what my clinical competencies, scope of practice, and code of professional conduct entail and to expect me to fulfill the obligations of my profession on their behalf.
This next part is included in the IBCLC Code of Professional Conduct but should nonetheless be made explicit in my practice philosophy:
The principles of inclusivity, equity, and non-discrimination are especially important to my work as a lactation consultant and breastfeeding advocate. I don’t care what my clients’ political, religious, or personal beliefs are, how much education they have, how much money they earn (so long as they can pay me), where they live, or where they’re from. I commit to treating everyone with the same degree of respect, compassion, and acceptance.
Moreover, I recognize that there are historical and structural forces in our society that can make parenting and infant feeding particularly challenging for folks with certain identities. This includes, but is not limited to, nondominant-culture racial/ethnic people, parents outside the societally-approved age range (be they “too young” or “too old”), people living in nontraditional families or households, unpartnered parents, LGBTQIA parents, and families that feature differently-abled, neurologically atypical, or chronically or mentally ill individuals. Every parent and nursling I encounter is equally entitled to my very best efforts in my role as their lactation consultant.
Finally, I have a particular concern for the physical and psychological well-being of postpartum parents, especially those who have recently given birth. Irrespective of breastfeeding issues, U.S. childbirth systems of care are in many instances woefully inadequate, with real costs and risks to mothers’ health and even survival. As I see it, anyone who works with new families, particularly in their own homes, often in the days and weeks immediately following birth, has a special opportunity and therefore duty to be alert to signs of trouble in the postpartum recovery process. I routinely screen for and discuss perinatal mood disorder symptoms, and I try hard to stay attuned to the full range of parents’ needs and experiences and to connect them with the resources they need to heal and thrive.
I welcome dialogue with potential or current clients about my practice philosophy and encourage you to contact me with any questions or concerns regarding how my statements here may pertain to your specific situation.