Understanding the Distinctions: Lactation Consultant, Breastfeeding Counsellor, and Breastfeeding Peer Support in the UK

Have you wondered what is the difference between a lactation consultant compared to a breastfeeding counsellor or breastfeeding support worker?

Breastfeeding is a deeply personal and significant journey for new mothers. While it can be an incredibly rewarding experience, it can also present challenges that require guidance and support. Across the globe there is a growing demand from parents to get support with breastfeeding so that they can enjoy the wonderful bonding experience it offers. With breastfeeding pressures causing a major cause of post natal depression in new mothers, there is a real need for proper support. That is where breastfeeding support roles come in. 

There are three distinct roles that can support parents with their breastfeeding journey – the lactation consultant, the breastfeeding counsellor, and the breastfeeding peer supporter – all designed to assist mothers. Let’s explore these roles with a focus on their professional expertise and if they could be a good career option for you…

1: Lactation Consultant

Lactation consultants are certified professionals who have undergone extensive training, holding the qualification from the International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). Their expertise lies in addressing complex breastfeeding issues and providing comprehensive support to mothers.

Responsibilities:

  • Conduct thorough assessments of breastfeeding challenges.
  • Develop individualised breastfeeding care plans.
  • Instruct mothers on correct latch and positioning techniques.
  • Resolve intricate issues such as nipple pain, low milk supply, and infant weight gain.
  • Disseminate evidence-based information on the advantages of breastfeeding.
  • Collaborate with healthcare providers when medical issues affect breastfeeding.

Interested in a career as a lactation consultant?

If you are considering a career as a lactation consultant in the UK, it’s essential to undertake the necessary training and certification, such as the IBCLC qualification.

A strong background in healthcare or related fields is often beneficial, along with a passion for helping mothers and infants.

2: Breastfeeding Counsellor:

Breastfeeding counsellors are specially trained professionals affiliated with accredited organisations like us here at Antenatal Training International. While the training is not as extensive as that of lactation consultants, they offer invaluable guidance and emotional support to breastfeeding mothers.

Responsibilities:

  • Provide empathetic emotional support and a listening ear.
  • Disseminate evidence-based information on breastfeeding.
  • Assist with common breastfeeding challenges, such as sore nipples and engorgement.
  • Encourage breastfeeding in alignment with the mother’s preferences and goals.
  • Offer practical guidance on breastfeeding techniques and positioning.
  • Refer mothers to lactation consultants or medical professionals when necessary.

Interested in a career as a breastfeeding counsellor?

We think that a career as a breastfeeding counsellor can provide you with an amazing opportunity. Training with us at Antenatal Training International not only gives you all of the vocational education you need to be able to serve your parents, we also provide you with everything you need to build a thriving business…

3: Breastfeeding Peer Support:

Breastfeeding peer supporters can be so valuable to new parents. Less formal than a lactation consultant or breastfeeding counsellor, they have undergone specialist training to offer basic support to new mothers. They are often mothers themselves who wish to share their experiences and provide practical advice – but this is not a prerequisite for us here at Antenatal Training International.

Responsibilities:

  • Provide encouragement and emotional reassurance.
  • Share personal experiences related to breastfeeding.
  • Offer guidance on fundamental breastfeeding techniques and positioning.
  • Assist mothers in overcoming initial breastfeeding challenges.
  • Foster a supportive and non-judgemental environment.
  • Refer mothers to escalated professional support when required.

Can you make a career as a breastfeeding peer support?

We firmly believe that you can make a successful career in being a breastfeeding peer support worker. There is a common misconception that this role is purely voluntary – and if you want to pursue the training to be able to volunteer then that is great. However with the volume of demand for peer led support, and the level of training required to be able to support parents effectively, we think that you deserve to be paid! Find out more about breastfeeding peer support workers…

The benefits of a career supporting breastfeeding parents...

A career in breastfeeding support in such a meaningful and fulfilling choice that offers a range of benefits and rewards. Whether you’re considering becoming a lactation consultant, a breastfeeding counsellor, or a breastfeeding peer supporter, you can help on so many levels.

1. Making a Positive Impact on Families:

One of the most rewarding aspects of a career in breastfeeding support is the opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of mothers, infants, and families. By providing guidance, encouragement, and practical assistance, you can help mothers overcome challenges and achieve their breastfeeding goals. This support not only benefits individual families but also contributes to the overall health and well-being of the community.

2. Promoting Health and Bonding:

Breastfeeding is known to offer numerous health benefits to both mothers and infants. As a breastfeeding support professional, you play a vital role in promoting these benefits, including improved immunity for babies, reduced risk of certain illnesses for mothers, and enhanced bonding between mothers and their infants. Knowing that you are contributing to the long-term health and well-being of families can be incredibly fulfilling.

3. Lifelong Learning:

The field of breastfeeding support is dynamic and constantly evolving. To provide the best care to mothers and infants, professionals in this field must engage in ongoing learning and professional development. This commitment to lifelong learning ensures that your skills and knowledge remain up-to-date and relevant, making your career both intellectually stimulating and fulfilling.

4. Building Meaningful Relationships:

Working as a breastfeeding support professional allows you to build meaningful relationships with mothers and families. These connections often go beyond the breastfeeding journey, as you provide emotional support and guidance during a crucial phase of their lives. The bonds you form with clients can be enduring and deeply rewarding.

5. Diverse Career Pathways:

The field of breastfeeding support offers diverse career pathways. Whether you choose to become a lactation consultant, a breastfeeding counsellor, or a breastfeeding peer supporter, you have the flexibility to tailor your career to your interests and goals. This diversity allows you to find a niche that aligns with your passions and strengths. When you train with Antenatal Training International we also provide you with the opportunity to establish your own independent practice and build a sustainable income for you and your family.

6. Contributing to Public Health By Rewriting The Narrative

Breastfeeding support professionals seriously contribute to public health initiatives. By promoting and facilitating breastfeeding, you contribute to reducing healthcare costs associated with infant and maternal health issues. Your work aligns with broader public health goals aimed at improving the overall well-being of communities, which is so important.

7. Personal Satisfaction:

Ultimately, a career in breastfeeding support is personally satisfying. The knowledge that you are helping mothers and infants thrive, providing valuable support during a crucial phase of their lives, and making a genuine difference in your community can bring a deep sense of fulfilment and purpose to your professional life.

inspired to start a breastfeeding career?

Explore our Diploma Directory for the right career pathway for you. Our programmes are specifically designed to not only equip you with vocational skills in a fully interactive environment, but to empower you with the necessary tools to build your own successful business….

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