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Lactation Consultant – Education and Job Overview

Higher Education Articles October 16, 2013

Overview

A lactation consultant holds a very important role in the nursing field. The job has a strong salary and requires a decent amount of education. Lactation consultant works primarily with new moms, helping them learn how to breastfeed their newborns. Lactation consultants also work to educate patients about how important breastfeeding is and may also teach breastfeeding classes. To be a successful lactation consultant, one needs to have patience, the ability to communicate effectively, and a passion in helping new moms and babies. Personal experience with breastfeeding is also helpful, but it is in no way required. Some lactation consultants may even wish to become advocates for breastfeeding and speaking to the public.

Work Environment and Job Duties

The majority of lactation consultants work in a hospital setting. They work on the labor and delivery floor and in postpartum recovery. They go from room to room, helping new moms learn how to get the correct latch from their baby. They also teach new moms different ways to hold the baby and how often they need to feed the baby. A lactation consultant is very important because breastfeeding is an art that needs to be taught. Very few new moms know how to do it correctly without being shown. When done incorrectly, breastfeeding is very painful and as a result, mothers stop breastfeeding prematurely. The lactation consultant is responsible for making sure that every new mother has to the opportunity to be successful in breastfeeding.

Some lactation consultants choose to work in a clinic, rather than a hospital. In a clinical setting, the lactation consultant will meet with mothers who have already gone home from the hospital, but are still troubles breastfeeding troubles. Lactation consultants may also organize classes on breastfeeding for both new and expectant moms.

Additionally, they can teach classes for people in the healthcare profession that require continuing education.

Finally, lactation consultants may also want to own their own business. They can contract with different hospitals to work in labor and delivery or they can make house calls to new moms once they get home from the hospital.

Since babies are born all hours of the day and night, lactation consultants can also expect to work all hours.

Getting a baby latched on as quickly as possible is very important in the process of breastfeeding. If the lactation consultant owns her own business, she will have more control over what hours she is able to work.

Requirements and Education

To become a lactation consultant, one first needs to become a registered nurse. This can be completed either through a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN), or a nursing diploma. The associate degree and diploma will take about three years while the bachelor’s degree takes four. Upon successful completion of school, a nurse must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN).

At this point, it is a good idea for the RN start to start working in the labor and delivery field. While this is not required, it is a good way for a lactation consultant to get a leg up on the competition. Finally, to officially become a lactation consultant, a nurse must pass the certification exam from the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners, Inc.

Salary and Career Outlook

As a lactation consultant, one can expect to earn an annual salary between $37,000 and $47,000, according to Discover Nursing. This salary varies by state and can also be altered depending on how much the lactation consultant works. If the lactation consultant runs her own business, this figure can vary greatly. If the lactation consultant works in a hospital or clinical setting, she can also expect to receive great medical coverage, paid time off, and even retirement options.

The career growth for a lactation consultant is very high. There are a lot more nurses retiring than entering the nursing profession. A lactation consultant should have no trouble finding a job, as long as they demonstrate professionalism and have a strong educational history. Overall, being a lactation consultant is a very rewarding career and allows the professional the opportunity to help new moms learn how to properly breastfeed their babies.

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