Presentation occurs in boardroom with group of professional people
Author: TLN

IBCLCs: Stronger together

International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) are dedicated to supporting families throughout their feeding journeys and providing them with evidence-based lactation care. IBCLCs establish breastfeeding support groups to foster peer connections, and they counsel parents who are struggling with complex feeding issues. Yet, even as clinical practitioners, International Board Certified Lactation Consultants often work in solitude, overlooking the benefits of connecting with peers. Here, we’ll discuss why creating a community of IBCLCs has many benefits for IBCLCs as individuals and private practice builders.

A psychological support system.

Forming strong relationships with other IBCLCs opens the door to a robust network of peers who uniquely understand the challenges of being a lactation consultant (IBCLC) in private practice.  

Providing lactation care can be challenging at times. Whether you’re feeling emotionally fatigued from a long week of consultations or struggling with business decisions, having a network of support to lean on can make all the difference. Support may come in the form of a quick text, a coffee meet-up, or a group dinner. At the end of the day, you’ll know you’re not alone.

Professional networking opportunities within the industry.

There are many ways to connect with other IBCLCs, including at workplaces, online, at lactation workshops and conferences, at coalition and task force meetings, through mutual colleagues, or at professional networking events.  

If you’re finding it difficult to connect with local colleagues, consider hosting a networking event. If you don’t have access to a space, consider a home or a park. Getting together can be as casual or formal as you’d like. Some IBCLCs prefer one or two strong relationships, while others prefer a group dynamic. See what works best for you! 

Broadening professional and personal reach.

Cultivating supportive relationships is one advantage to networking, but there are also professional reasons to establish connections with your peers.

You may want advice about a case you’re finding challenging or need input from a colleague with specific expertise. Many IBCLCs refer to each other when their peer is a better fit for a family or for the support that’s required. Perhaps a family needs to be seen sooner than your schedule allows, you’re ill, on vacation, or the family wants a home visit and you only provide office consultations. Perhaps your IBCLC peer (through their lived experience or specialized training) is aligned with the family’s community and can offer culturally competent care.

Knowing IBCLCs within your own community is uniquely valuable when searching for a local referral or resources. By collaborating and sharing community knowledge, you’ll become both more efficient and informed.

Some IBCLCs formalize their collaborative efforts with fellow IBCLCs by forming group practices or collectives. They may share office space, equipment, supplies, marketing efforts, event costs, or breastfeeding support groups.

When IBCLCs collaborate and network with other IBCLCs, it not only benefits each private practice, but ensures families receive the best possible lactation care tailored to their unique needs.

Advocating for families, policy, and the profession.

Let’s take a full-circle approach here: IBCLCs are, in no uncertain terms, stronger together. TLN IBCLCs put that collective power to work when President Joe Biden signed the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) bill into law. It was the first time in U.S. history that IBCLCs have been written into federal legislation.

IBCLCs weren’t just the subject of parts of that law: They helped bring it to fruition. This huge first step wouldn’t have happened without a concerted effort by TLN IBCLCs to call representatives in Congress. The amendment included funding for military spouses to earn their IBCLC certifications and positioned IBCLCs as experts to support active-duty military families, plus other gains:

  • A professional pathway and earning potential for military spouses. Today, this law serves the spouses of active-duty service members by offering access to IBCLC careers that can be practiced anywhere.
  • A vote of confidence in IBCLC expertise. This law will drive meaningful access to lactation care on military bases and beyond.
  • A way to recreate communities in the face of transience. Military parents are often far from their own families and support during their breastfeeding journeys. This amendment acknowledges the role IBCLCs play in supporting whole families at vulnerable times.

We know that when IBCLCs band together, they help enact change for families.

Are you new to building a private practice and looking for a step-by-step guide to establishing one? Log into the myTLN portal to access the “Starting Your Practice Playbook.” 

Not yet a TLN IBCLC? It’s free to join. Go here to schedule a call and learn how TLN can help you grow your practice.

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