March 6 is IBCLC Day
March 6 is International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) Day with a theme of “Connect with IBCLCs, the Experts in Breastfeeding Care.” LFCHD has two IBCLCs, Doraine Bailey and Terri Phelps, who help mothers through prenatal classes, answering phone questions through our Breastfeeding Warm Line and providing one-on-one help through the WIC clinic.
“We are fortunate to have this staff expertise,” said Brandi Fishback, team leader for the WIC Program. “Our IBCLCs help empower our participants to learn about breastfeeding and how to care for their babies and themselves.”
“Many of our mothers are the first ones to choose breastfeeding in their family,” Bailey said of the health department’s Breastfeeding Support Service. “When they come to one of our free prenatal breastfeeding classes, we give them facts about how breastfeeding works and de-mystify all of the stuff they’ve heard, so they can be prepared. It helps that mothers can learn from a healthcare professional who can give them ‘best practices’ in breastfeeding. Mothers use that knowledge to encourage their own family and friends to be supportive of their choice to breastfeed.”
Lexington is fortunate: there are 22 IBCLCs working with mothers and babies in the city, and it shows. In 2011, 76 percent of babies born to Fayette County mothers started out breastfeeding. Because many of these IBCLCs work at our birthing hospitals, we see between 62 percent and 73 percent of babies in surrounding counties start out breastfeeding as well.
“Getting a good start in the hospital is so important,” Bailey said. “When hospitals put babies skin-to-skin with their mothers right away at birth, keep mothers and babies together during their stay, and have experts in breastfeeding like IBCLCs to help moms and babies learn good skills from the start, babies breastfeed longer and mothers are more confident.”
There are 151 IBCLCs in Kentucky, nearly tripling since 2002. Although most IBCLCs work in hospitals, others work in health departments, physician’s offices or their own private lactation consulting practice. IBCLCs have extensive training in breastfeeding care through coursework and clinical practice, and have passed an internationally-recognized exam.