By: Kimberly Bepler
You get the questions too, right?
“Oh, you should talk to Kimberly, she is one of those lactation (or doula) people.”
These questions come my way not just from moms but also from within the birth world about becoming a lactation consult vs a doula vs an educator. What role is right for each person, what will fit their talents, and what will offer future professional opportunities so they can also support their families while they support their passion?
As we round the new year, I believe this is will be the year of the Lactation Educator. So many women tell me they want to update their skills and offerings but don’t want the giant task of becoming an IBCLC. (Giant is no exaggeration; the IBCLC process took me 7 years while I worked full time as a doula.) It is hard to take time away from your work or family to gain a credential if you don’t plan to use it full time.
The breastfeeding world is rapidly expanding. Hospitals are going Baby Friendly, organizations are training their employees to support new breastfeeding policies, and even medical professionals are finding that their gaps in breastfeeding knowledge becoming an obstacle. The world of support for moms and babies is rapidly changing requiring a broader base and advanced skills.
Lactation educators are adding to this growing movement by offering a credential that is well respected, but not nearly as extensive (both in scope as well as preparation) as the IBCLC. Many doulas, childbirth educators, and community workers don’t have the time and space to undertake a huge path to lactation as a career. They want skills, but they want to be able to apply them to their current work, or expand their offerings within a realm where they already have influence.
This is why I think the Lactation Educator is the perfect fit. With a 3-day training, the ability to schedule around your other work commitments, and a certification that can take a few months up to 2 years if needed–because we have babies, send kids to college, and care for elderly parents in the mix of our professional lives–you can add to your career, expand your offerings, and have a respected credential to offer future families.
Who do we have to thank for all of this? As I step into the recently vacated shoes of Laurel Wilson as the new Executive Director, I am full of gratitude for the work she has done to establish this program for CAPPA. She has helped us create an option for birth professionals who want to illustrate their dedication to breastfeeding families while also maintaining their current jobs and responsibilities. By offering a credential that honors breastfeeding in the larger community, opens doors for birth workers into hospitals and service organizations, and allows each of our private businesses to showcase our breastfeeding support skills, Laurel has made CAPPA an organization that stands out not just for our work in the doula and childbirth fields, but also one that takes a stand for evidence-based breastfeeding education. In our birth communities where your organization represents you to the larger world, we at CAPPA have a debt of gratitude to Laurel for building us this fantastic program over the past 16 years. She couldn’t have given us more or left more of an amazing mark on our programs; so what will we do now that she is making room for her board position on the US Breastfeeding Committee and speaking all over the world? We will do what she would want for us to…we will grow.
For those of you who hear the heart cry to support new moms, families, and babies, this might be the perfect time to invest in your breastfeeding education. And if you already are pursuing the CLE path, maybe this is the year for you to consider becoming a trainer within our program to expand the breastfeeding education offerings in your area. We are looking to add several more faculty in 2017. Is this your year?
As the new director, I hope to be able to carry on the great work, as well as bring new opportunities to both current and new CLE®s. Great things are ahead; if breastfeeding is part of your passion, find a training or contact the office to inquire about a faculty position. We want 2017 to be your year!
|Kimberly Bepler – Executive Director of Lactation Educators
|Kimberly has been serving breastfeeding families since 2001, first as a postpartum doula, then as a hospital educator, then as a Lactation Consultant (IBCLC since 2011). She founded a ABC Doula Service in Portland, OR in 2001 and has seen it grow to serve over 1800 families within the first 15 years. She has a passion for newborns and their families, as well as new doulas and educators launching into their own businesses. She has been Faculty for CAPPA since 2005 and now trains postpartum doulas, lactation educators, and her own advanced program for working with multiples. Her joy is in really making a difference for new parents and new doulas, and changing the world one family at a time.