Updated: Jan 19, 2021
The road to become an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant was a very long one. In fact I was on it for awhile before I realized that's what I was doing!
For me it started out by meeting my mentor Beverly, at my local WIC office during an appointment. After I told her how much I loved breastfeeding and that I would love to help new mothers navigate through the struggles too one day, she offered me a position. I became a NM WIC breastfeeding peer counselor (BPC). I am so incredibly thankful for my background and for the people who helped me along the way! It was an incredible job to have, especially when thinking what it could do for me on my way to becoming an IBCLC. Through my job at WIC, they sent me to all kinds of different lactation trainings and conferences... and they paid me for it! Hello free 90 lactation education hours. I remember going to my first NM task force breastfeeding conference. I was so inspired by all these lactation professionals that were so incredibly successful! That's when I decided I wanted to become an IBCLC. I wanted to be THAT knowledgeable about breastfeeding on such a profound and professional level too. Hearing those women talk, just blew my socks off!
From that point on I dived in. It took me just about five years to complete all the requirements for pathway 1. I was 19 when I realized what I wanted to do in life. Needless to say, I had no medical or college background. I was a stay home mom for the last year and a half, straight out of high school. So I enrolled in an online degree that I could receive all the 14 health science requirements while still being at home to care for oldest my son, Liam. I went to every training or conference offered to me to gather as much knowledge and lactation education hours as possible. With my position as a BPC being majorly telephone support, that put me at 250 hours I could claim per year for my 1,000 required clinical hours through pathway 1. Clinical hours were required to be under the supervision of an IBCLC, and for me she was my mentor and my friend. Seriously, if you happen to stumble upon a mentor who is half as kind and nurturing as Beverly was, count your blessings. For most candidates, the hardest part of becoming an IBCLC is really finding a mentor who is willing to invest their time in you.
In addition to being a BPC and eventually a lead BPC I was also actively involved in mom 2 mom global as a membership director and then later the education director. I was there several times a month for about three years running meetings. I jumped in every place I could to play an active role as a support person for lactating families in the community.
This was just my journey leading up to applying for the exam. Becoming an IBCLC is no small potatoes folks. It has a lot of requirements, it is a time consuming process, it is expensive, and it really requires consistent effort. But, I can entirely say it was worth, ALL of it. This is my proudest professional accomplishment I think I will ever have. I am exactly where I am meant to be. I truly have found my calling in life, and now I get to live that dream that I have been chasing for five years.
So If there's anything you take away from this blog I hope it is that no matter your background, no matter the situation, it is possible. Chase your dream, and don't lose focus of it.
-Paige Sochovka, IBCLC