Most people see breastfeeding helpers as this profession full of cute smiling babies and moms who just love to be new moms. For those of us who have stepped up to be an IBCLC, our certifying organization reminds us that we are professionals with serious responsibilities. We are part of the health care team and we are obligated by a Scope of Practice, Clinical Competencies and Code of Professional Conduct.
It is a huge burden to shoulder at times. The weight of this actually caused me to take a break for several months because I wasn't sure I was in a place to support breastfeeding dyads at that professional level. I became nervous that I would miss something crucial and the results would be devastating. Imagine being the only person who is consistently following up with a mom and baby. Or wondering if that mama who hasn't answered your calls is okay.
One of the hardest parts of my obligation as an IBCLC is to screen moms for postpartum mood issues. Today, I created an electronic copy of the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale 1 (EPDS). Each mama who is a client has the opportunity to fill this out before each appointment. It is a tool that can be used to notice if a mom is at risk.
I had no idea when I chose this IBCLC path that it could be this intense. It has definitely given me a newfound respect for others in the health care profession, and how important self-care is to keep grounded so that I can help others.