How To Become A Lactation Consultant
As a lactation consultant, you will teach mothers about the breastfeeding process. Lactation consulting is a new and upcoming field. You will help mothers who want to feed their children, but are struggling. You will also help expecting mothers. In order to become a lactation consultant, you must first become a nurse and pass all required nursing examinations. Additional certifications in this specialty will be required.
Why Become A Lactation Consultant
Many mothers assume that breastfeeding is a natural process that will come easy to them — and for many women, it does. But for others, breastfeeding is actually quite troublesome. Some women find it to be painful. Others do not produce enough milk, or they may have difficulty getting their children to feed. Women may agonize over these frustrations, not knowing what to do. Some parents switch to formula, frustrated by the process of breastfeeding.
A lactation consultant helps parents who are having difficulties figuring out the breastfeeding process. They talk to parents, listen and understand their goals, and help them come up with solutions. They help parents understand how they can still breastfeed while attending school or going to work. Consultants help with breastfeeding equipment, and give advice on how to properly breastfeed. Lactation consultants often hold group classes for mothers, or they may hold individual classes for parents.
Lactation consultants are a relatively new field, but this medical profession is gaining in popularity. This is a great career choice for somebody who wants to help other moms, enjoys the medical field, and is good with problem solving and helping others.
Lactation Consultants should possess the following qualities and skills:
- Good communicator
- Active listening
- Problem solver
- Enjoys medicine
- Good teacher
Lactation Consultant Work Environment
Lactation consultants often work in hospitals. Inside of the maternity ward, they teach mothers how to breastfeed with their newborn babies. They teach many skills, such as different positions for holding their infant, latching methods, and how often to feed. Some lactation consultants work in a women’s health clinic. Often lactation consultants organize classes about breastfeeding for new and expecting parents. Lactation consultants often work full-time. Those who are employed in hospitals can expect to work many different shifts, including night shifts and weekends.
Lactation Consultant Salary
The median salary for lactation consultants was $77,000 in 2017.
A variety of factors can affect the salary of an occupation. A salary can increase depending on what environment a person is employed in, such as a hospital or clinic. People who have additional years of experience or have earned extra certifications may be able to command a higher salary.
Lactation Consultant Career Outlook
The job growth for nurses, including lactation consultants, is expected to grow by 22 percent from 2014 to 2024. This is much faster compared to other occupational fields. There will always be a need for people in the medical field. Because of new regulations in the health care system, more people are seeking out health care specialists. Women are interested in more modern, alternative health care practices and the best ways to care for their children. Public health has spread awareness so more people are knowledgeable of the benefits of breastfeeding. All of these contribute positively to the profession.
Lactation Consultant Degree
Step 1: Become a nurse. A lactation consultant is a registered nurse who specializes in lactation. Enroll in a nursing program at a school near you. You can choose either an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). At the end of your program, you must successfully pass your National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN).
Step 2: Gain experience. Work in a hospital setting and gain experience doing the tasks you’d like to be doing. If you want to work as a lactation consultant, it is an excellent idea to earn experience in labor and delivery, as well as neonatal nursing. This will help you decide if being a lactation consultant is the right specialty for you. It will also help you make friends and connections, possibly finding a future position as a lactation consultant.
Step 3: Get educated. The International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners requires that all prospective lactation consultants complete coursework in several different subjects, including biology, anatomy and physiology, nutrition, psychology and sociology, and more. All future lactation consultants are expected to complete coursework in CPR, medical terminology, and other skills. A total of 90 hours of coursework must be specifically geared towards lactation education. The board requires future lactation consultants to have worked at least 1,000 hours in a hospital or clinic before sitting for the certification exam.
Step 4: Become certified. The International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners holds a certification exam for people wishing to be lactation consultants. Once you have passed this exam, the board will register you as a recognized and certified lactation consultant.