Hearthside Maternity Services

pregnancy, birth & lactation services… at home

Lactation Collaboration and a Hope for Extinction

As a Certified Lactation Counselor, I’ve been assisting women to breastfeed their babies for 18 months now (what a newbie!). I’ve had complex cases, I’ve had simple cases. Every client I’ve had has gone on to successfully breastfeed her child for as long as she wished. I even guided my very first client through weaning her son! I’ve begun mentoring women who wish to help others breastfeed and I’ve spent time with generous, lovely fellow lactation professionals and volunteers who have been so kind as to mentor me. I’ve had the pleasure of leading breastfeeding support groups and listening to the inborn wisdom of the breastfeeding mother.

This year has been rich & rewarding. I’ve spent time with breastfeeding women and the women who support them professionally and as volunteers. And you know what? The letters after their names, the professional or volunteer status of the organization they represent, all mean less to me than their passion to help women breastfeed and their dedication to excellence. These women- all of them who give of their time and their lives to assist others- they care about the women and children they’re serving. Out of that care, they seek new information, they seek ways to better serve and they seek better answers to questions that impact the course of breastfeeding.

I am in love with women who help women to breastfeed. And I don’t care what your credentials are (or aren’t). You- each of you- inspire me to service. To know more and to do better. The lives you’ve impacted, the stories of success you’ve quietly helped to cultivate- what love, power and dedication you all show! Thank you for being willing to share who you are. Thank you for sharing your passion and your knowledge!

Below, I reprint the October 15th, 2012 open letter to US lactation professional from Healthy Children’s Center for Breastfeeding. This is the group that trained me for my Lactation Counselor certification exam. I believe that the state of US lactation care is only as strong as the unity of the lactation providers in this country. When trade organizations seek to divide professionals (and volunteers!) according to letters after a name and while resentment and turf-warring happen over the bodies of new mothers and their precious babies, we are NOT as strong as we need to be. We are all needed. We are all VITAL to this work.

In the end, breastfeeding isn’t rocket science. While I believe that we need lactation professionals now- because of the cultural amnesia that exists concerning breastfeeding- my sincere hope is that someday, there won’t be a need for ‘lactation professionals’. Well, ok- maybe there will be some in NICUs to help severely needy babies receive life-saving mother’s milk, but for the most part, I hope to see a world where the wisdom about breastfeeding reverts to those to whom it has always belonged- the wisdom of breastfeeding lies in breastfeeding mothers. Except for the last, oh 30 years or so, when we’ve needed professionals to fight for breastfeeding in this country, women have always just breastfed. If it didn’t work, a wet-nurse fed the baby. Women have gotten along just fine without armies of breastfeeding professionals for millenia and I bet they’ll do just fine when we’re gone. It’s our extinction, not our exclusive right to be the only “real” lactation professional, that we should be working toward…


Healthy Children Project is issuing a renewed call for collaboration in supporting women and their goals for breastfeeding. We believe that all lactation care professionals, no matter what credential they hold, should be working together in the spirit of support and cooperation to ensure the best care and outcomes for mothers and babies. There are 4.3 million births in the United States every year. Of these 4.3 million new mothers, 80% intend to breastfeed. This means that there are over 3 million mothers and babies every year who need help in achieving their breastfeeding goals. We should be working together to ensure that the mothers and babies get the help and support they need. Claiming that one set of credentials is worthy of health insurance reimbursement and not others will severely limit mothers’ and babies’ access to quality care.

As lactation professionals, we need to consider the message we are sending to mothers and to the lactation care community in general when we engage in divisive and hurtful rhetoric over credentials (Taylor & Levenston, 2012). At Healthy Children Project we believe that lactation professionals should seek to empower mothers and support their confidence to make decisions for themselves and their infants based on their own innate abilities.

Healthy Children Project has been defining the field of research based breastfeeding education and ethical, evidence based breastfeeding practice for over 30 years. The 3500 CLCs who are trained and competency verified every year are fully qualified to assist mothers and babies in achieving their breastfeeding goals.

Please join us at Healthy Children Project in fostering cooperation and mutual respect among all lactation care providers. Let us combine our efforts to support mothers and babies, advocate for change within our society to normalize breastfeeding, and find creative ways to work and succeed as a community of professionals. Together we are facing real and serious issues in the U.S.: the shocking absence of universal paid parental leave, the persistent social stigma of breastfeeding in public, the precariousness of continued legislative support for breastfeeding programs including WIC Peer Counselors, and the insidious industry of formula marketing.

These issues require our collective might, our great strength as passionate individuals working as one – only together will we succeed.

Healthy Children Project, Inc., Center for Breastfeeding

327 Quaker Meeting House Road

East Sandwich, MA 02537



October 15, 2012



Taylor, T., & Levenston, S.

Women and Children’s Issues: Call to the Spirit of Collaboration. Retrieved 10/19/12 at


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