Lactation education

Lactation consultants in Georgia will no longer need a license to teach new moms how to breastfeed

Mother breastfeeding baby boy

Source: Compassionate Eye Foundation/David Oxberry/Getty

The Fulton County Superior Court in Atlanta has ruled in favor of a law that will allow certified lactation consultants to teach new moms how to breastfeed without needing an advanced degree.

The strict licensing requirement was created in 2016 and required consultants to obtain one of two main licenses: a Certified Lactation Consultant (CLC) or the International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). The law, called the Lactation Consultant Protection Act, reportedly prevented new lactation consultants from accepting paid opportunities unless they were IBCLC certified.

The historic pursuit was led by Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere (PINK) nonprofit in Georgia that educates families about the breastfeeding disparities that impact communities of color. ROSE works to normalize breastfeeding by providing resources and networking opportunities for individuals and communities.

The organization was represented by members of the institute for justice (IJ), which helped land the big legal win.

“The Court recognized that preventing fully competent lactation consultants from doing their jobs does not protect the public, but rather reduces access to breastfeeding care and violates constitutional rights,” the attorney for the IJ Renée Flaherty in a press release. “Now IBCLCs will have to think twice before pushing for more laws like this in other states.”

Kimmarie Bugg, the founder of ROSE, raved about the milestone.

“We agreed to this because of our passion and love for our community,” she told IJ. “It’s unbelievably good. We can’t wait to celebrate with our community.

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Breastfeeding a child in the first 6 months is incredibly vital to a child’s overall development, according to the World Health Organization.

Breast milk is packed with energy and nutrients for babies six to twenty-three months old. “It can provide half or more of a child’s energy needs between six and twelve months, and a third of the energy needs between twelve and twenty-four months,” the agency notes. Breast milk also provides an excellent source of nutrients when illness develops in infants and it can significantly reduce mortality rates in malnourished children. In some third world and industrialized countries, young babies are at risk of death from diarrhea and other gastrointestinal infections.

The maternal breastfeeding gap must be closed to ensure the happy and healthy future of babies in the United States. 2018 data by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 75.5 black infants were breastfed compared to 85.4% of white infants.

Breastfeeding rates were statistically higher for Hispanic and Asian communities, with 85% of Hispanic infants being breastfed compared to 92.4% of Asian infants. The agency noted that age and a lack of health and educational resources for new mothers of color were some of the key elements behind the stark disparity.

For black mothers, the decision to breastfeed is “not always an individual choice” said Andrea Freeman, author of the book “Skimmed: Breastfeeding, Race, and Injustice.” Freeman said Health line that she thinks doctors may not provide information about the health benefits of breastfeeding to new black mothers for societal and historical reasons.

“They are not offered the same type of assistance after childbirth,” she continued. “In fact, many black women are offered infant formula to feed their babies, without discussing the health benefits of breastfeeding.”

Some black women may choose not to breastfeed while others do so for a shorter period of time compared to women of other races, the article notes.

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