A post came through my facebook feed from the Black Mother's Breastfeeding Association (BMBFA) yesterday about becoming a breastfeeding counselor through Breastfeeding USA's accredited program. I went to the site, since I had been thinking about doing something like this and think it would be a great idea while I work on my IBCLC, so I can have more information to pass on to nursing mothers, and not to mention a great opportunity to show my commitment to this area when I'm looking for places to volunteer. I can't. Well, I can. I mean, I'm fully capable but they won't let me. The reason? Long-story-short. Well, everything was just fine and dandy until that pesky personal experience category came up. I have no children. And according to Breastfeeding USA's requirements you must have kid (s) and have breastfed said kid (s) for at least one year, but other than that I'm good and meet all of the other requirements -- I could become a member of the organization, support their mission and policies, am interested in learning more about breastfeeding and breastfeeding support, can communicate effectively and respectfully -- and I really think I excel, especially in that valuing diversity area. Yep. But no kids.
Of course I could have omitted that wee bit of information, since I'm sure they're not asking for children's socials, birth certificates -- a blood sample, but that of course, is completely against my personal and professional code of ethics -- not to mention it absolutely counters part of my entire basis for being here; we need more people without children to join in! Remember?! It also does not raise awareness on the topic of inclusion, plus I'm not all that interested in being a down low student or an undercover volunteer. So instead, I decided to do what I know how to do. Speak up! I took a few minutes and crafted a short letter to Breastfeeding USA expressing my concern for not being able to participate, and this is what it said:
I am very interested in becoming a breastfeeding counselor. I am in the initial stages of becoming a IBCLC and am hoping with the requirements for the exam, I will be able to sit in 2013. I came across this site on the Black Mother's Breastfeeding association facebook feed.
I currently am owner of the blog Lactation Journey [there was a link to this site, which I changed when I published this blog post, since I felt this not necessary here]
If you take a look at that, then you will see my reasons for venturing into this field, and the reason why I am here.
I am very interested in becoming a breastfeeding counselor since I believe it will help work with the specific populations I am focused on while I work towards the IBCLC certifications, yet your website says it only allows those who have children and who have breastfed do this. I understand this on some level, but am bothered at others.
If you refer to a post I recently wrote titled People Who Don't Have Children Can Breastfeed! then you will understand my concern. Breastfeeding a child, in some cases, is a matter of life and death -- literally. Illness is rampant and other health disparities are high. Some of these can be thwarted through no other way than breastfeeding, and I firmly believe when we have these types of barriers for people like myself, those problems and areas of disparities that we are trying to alleviate only increase.
We need more people who are interested in breastfeeding. The goal is to provide information and support to those women who need it, and it is very disheartening to see that those of us without children are banned from certain practices and certain areas. Please take into consideration that in order to help end these disparities, we must must be wiling to recognize the role we play in keeping them active.
See -- nothing too fancy and right to the point!
I'm not trying to be a trouble-maker at all. But I do think consideration should be given to those of us who want to make a difference and involve ourselves. Breastfeeding is an area where everyone needs to pitch in, and I see no reason why I shouldn't be allowed since after all their mission is to "provide evidence-based breastfeeding information and support, and to promote breastfeeding as the biological and cultural norm." And I know I can do that!
Keep an eye out -- I'll update you on a response.