Lactation education

Program pushes for representation in lactation consultants

GREENSBORO, NC — A program at North Carolina A&T State University is working to create more diversity and representation in the lactation consultant field.

What do you want to know

NC A&T is the first public HBCU to offer the Human Lactation Pathway 2 certificate with the intention of producing more lactation consultants who are people of color

North Carolina has the seventh highest infant mortality rate in the country, according to the CDC

Native American, Black and Hispanic babies are more than twice as likely to die before their first birthday, CDC says

Sierra Bizzell ends her stay at North Carolina A&T Pathway 2 Program, working to become a certified lactation consultant. After having her first child, Bizzell struggled to conceive a second and struggled with infertility. During her journey, she was inspired to become a doula to help parents create families.

“I never thought I would be able to help other people who have babies, so to be able to help someone start their journey, after going through such a traumatic experience, is very, very awesome.” , Bizzell said.

Bizzell started the Pathway 2 program in August 2021, where she learned the science behind breastfeeding in the classroom and in practice at Cone Health Women’s Medical Center in Greensboro. Bizzell believes in the importance of lactation consultants representing the communities and clients they serve.

“A lot of times because in the black community we’ve had so many issues with systemic racism, we tend to not really trust the medical community, but when you see people who look like you, you feel a little more comfortable and when you have that portrayal, and you see people breastfeeding who look like you, it makes you feel like you can actually do it,” Bizzell said.

North Carolina’s infant mortality rate is the seventh highest in the nation, according to the Centers for Disaster Control and Prevention.

Native American, Black and Hispanic babies are more than twice as likely to die before they reach their first birthday. According to researchers, breastfeeding can help reduce respiratory illnesses and sudden infant death syndrome. National Library of Medicine.

North Carolina A&T is the first historically black public college or university to establish a program with the goal of producing lactation consultants who are people of color. Bizzell says the impact is already being noticed in local hospitals.

“We’ve absolutely come into hospitals and changed the way people think about lactation…It’s gratifying because I see what we’re doing is actually creating change in the community,” Bizzell said.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina have given more than $4 million to close the gap between racial and health disparities in the state, giving $450,000 to the lactation program. The goal is to open a lactation clinic to serve minority areas in Guilford County and the state, according to the company.

Students like Bizzell take 95 hours of classes and more than 300 hours of supervised practice before graduating from the program in May. Then they will take the International Board Certified Lactation Consultants exam.

For more information on the program, click here.