Glossary of Support Roles and Directories

There are dozens of support people in Arizona to help mom breastfeed. To help you decide who is best for you, here is a definition list of breastfeeding support roles:


Lactation Consultants - IBCLC
Lactation consultants are specialists who offer assistance for more complicated situations requiring hands-on help such as low milk supply, babies who will not or cannot latch to the breast, inefficient feeders, sore nipples, babies with Down Syndrome, cardiac anomalies, cleft lip or palate, etc. Some practitioners have a sliding scale of fees. Most lactation consultants have qualified as International Board Certified Lactation Consultants by passing a certifying examination given by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners. Only lactation consultants who successfully pass the exam use the initials IBCLC after their name. Lactation consultants may be employed by hospitals, health maintenance organizations, clinics, pediatricians, family practice physicians, or may offer their services through a private practice in the community. Some lactation consultants teach breastfeeding classes or professional lactation management programs.


Postpartum Doulas:
Postpartum doulas provide in-home support to new parents, usually including breastfeeding support, newborn care, meal preparation, and other household tasks. Some doulas are also nurses, midwives, and mothers themselves. They specialize in postpartum maternal child health issues and can help identify when professional assistance is necessary, referring mothers to their physician or community resources such as lactation consultants, breastfeeding counselors, and support groups.

The link below will provide you with the names, telephone numbers, and services offered by those providing breastfeeding support and services in Arizona as breastfeeding specialists, peer counselors, or lactation consultants. We recommend that you get to know those in your area who provide these services so you are confident in referring your breastfeeding mothers to them.
DONA's web site describes the training process for doulas and provides email referrals for postpartum doulas.


Peer Counselors:
Some breastfeeding counselors are hired to teach women about breastfeeding and provide prenatal and postpartum support, such as the peer counselors employed by WIC (the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children). Peer counselors generally live in the same neighborhood and are readily accessible to the new mother. They may be paired or buddied with a new mother to provide more intensive breastfeeding help. WIC provides training for their peer counselors, which builds on the peer's own breastfeeding experiences.


Breastfeeding Counselors:
Many women who have breastfed their own children have both enjoyed it and realized how helpful it was to have an experienced mother provide support for common questions and concerns. These women attend training courses and learn about the experiences of many mothers, so they understand breastfeeding beyond their own personal experience. These women belong to breastfeeding support groups such as La Leche League International. Breastfeeding counselors are knowledgeable about breastfeeding and the normal situations that arise during the course of breastfeeding. They are available by telephone to answer questions and most participate in one of the local breastfeeding support groups that meet regularly in many communities. The meetings provide a place for mothers to come together with their babies to discuss breastfeeding and parenting. When a breastfeeding counselor encounters a breastfeeding problem that is beyond her skills, she will refer to the primary health provider and a lactation consultant. Breastfeeding counselors are usually community volunteers and their help is free of charge.


Other Breastfeeding Credentials:

Some breastfeeding specialists carry other credentials such as CLC (certified lactation counselor), CBE (certified breastfeeding educator), etc. These letters mean that the person has taken additional training in lactation management but is not board certified. These credentials are not the same as IBCLC.


Information adapted from Massachusetts. Breastfeeding Coalition 2006 - permission obtained 4/2007