Volunteering as Breastfeeding Counselor

Hi y’all.

I am 33 with a husband and 3 kids and a law degree, taking prereqs and planning to apply to med school in the 2010 cycle. I have tons of community volunteer experience (past and current) but nothing clinical at this point. I’m looking to add something clinical.

Would adcoms consider being a volunteer breastfeeding counselor for underprivileged mothers (through WIC) “medical” volunteering? Sure, I could go down to the local hospital and help admit people to ER, but I feel like working as a breastfeeding counselor would be much more relevant. I have 6+ years of breastfeeding experience, and was at one time pursuing becoming a certified lactation consultant. Lactation education and advocacy are hobbies of mine and I believe I could do a great job. WIC runs clinics that provide nutrition, breastfeeding, and general health information to its members. I just don’t know if WIC clinics are “clinical” enough.

I don’t have a great deal of time to commit to another volunteer activity, as I already have several that I am heavily committed to (in addition to taking a full load of classes and running a household), so if I am going to add something else, I need to “make it count”, so to speak.



You should look up BOOBS, her name is Susan and I believe she is a breast feeding consultant. She would be a wealth of information for you.

Though I believe as soon as she notices this thread, she will be here to chime in! Welcome to the site! You will find everyone here is very accomadating.

  • maddux31 Said:
You should look up BOOBS, her name is Susan and I believe she is a breast feeding consultant. She would be a wealth of information for you.

Though I believe as soon as she notices this thread, she will be here to chime in! Welcome to the site! You will find everyone here is very accomadating.

You caught me.

I haven't looked into exactly how things should be documented yet, but someone around here said any form of volunteer counts. Just be sure your supervisor can vouch for you. With WIC you are basically in a clinical setting, just not as in depth as if in a drs office. However, if they count CNA experience as legit (which I'm told they do), then they should could this as legit.

Baring the law degree, we could possibly be twins. 33 mom of three here too...aiming for MCATS and apps 2010, but not sure if I'll be ready quite yet.

I knew you would show up

Oooh that was some horrid spelling I had there! Please ignore the typos. It’s the product of bouncing a baby and posting at the same time.

Sweet, thanks!

It seems logical to me that WIC counseling would be wayyyyyy more relevant clinical experience than pushing paper at a hospital admitting desk or something, but I have quickly learned that this process isn’t always logical!

We really could be twins! Are you interested in pursuing some birth or baby/MFM-related specialty? Everyone assumes that since I am a huge birth junkie and breastfeeding advocate that I must want to be an OB, but I actually want nothing to do with OB or peds (I am pretty sure). If I wanted to deliver babies for a living, I would be a midwife for sure! :slight_smile: I have thought for years about becoming an IBCLC, and half-heartedly started the process (meaning, investigation and background reading). But not having a med/nursing background, I think it would take me as long to become an IBCLC as it will to become an MD!!!

I was actually gearing up to sit the boards when they initiated their new SOPs. I just couldn’t in good concience agree to never undermine a doctor that was obviously in the wrong. (Sorry guys, I know most doctors are good and know their stuff, but so few are legitimately educated on lactation).

I’ve run into clients who’s doctors told them to wean for meds as simple as cough syrup and tylenol. I’ve had a doctor insist my son needed formula and a bottle to learn how to suckle properly with his palate issues when he was violently allergic to cows milk protein as well as soy (anaphylactic reaction at 5 days old to nutramigin).

For the most part doctors are coming around to recent research, but there’s always one or two out there that will give the wrong information and it can be dire to not provide that second opinion to a mother if needed. The recent IBCLC SOPs state we could lose our liscensure if we disagree with a doctor’s prescribed advice to the client and I was never comfortable with that.

I’ve taught courses to IBCLCs, I’ve worked many hours in various settings, but after that stint I never felt compelled to sit the exam. I can help more people without it than with sadly.

Actually I am not headed into OB. I don’t want the extensively long residencies associated with OBGYN. I do however want to continue working with the breastfeeding dyad. I can do that in pediatrics and I can do it longer. I used to joke though, that I wanted to be an OB/PED and have the babies from conception through weaning. I don’t think I have that kind of energy in my old age. Maybe I’ll hook up with Addison Montgomery and work for a “Private Practice” instead.

Are you pursuing MD? or DO? Or does it not matter to you? I actually line up more philosophically with the DO school of thought, so I’m starting there, but do have my eyes on a few local allopathic schools as well.

Good luck to you and welcome to the marathon.

  • In reply to:
I know most doctors are good and know their stuff, but so few are legitimately educated on lactation

So true. I am consistently amazed at the bad advice my friends get from their OBs and pediatricians about BFing. (Baby only needs to eat every 4 hours...baby has to switch to formula because of "lactose intolerance"...if you can't pump anything, you're not making enough milk.....) Although, I think in some cases, people looking for validation for not loving BFing and wanting to switch to ABM hear what they want to hear. So I try to take stuff like that with a grain of salt.

I am pursuing MD at this point, although I will probably apply to TCOM as well (only DO school in Texas).

Oh, and I called WIC today and I think they thought I was crazy at first but then I explained a little more about my background and what I want to do (not sure if they have a peer counseling program here?) and they were suddenly very nice and interested. The executive director is on vacation this week but will be back next week. When the lady gave me her name and number, I realized that it is the mom of one of my good friends from high school! I remember as far back as junior high that this gal’s mom was at WIC, but I had no idea she would still be there 20 years later!

I’ve done some work w/ WIC though not through their peer counceling program. I do know some about it since I worked on the professional front (we were responsible for Dr. education in our tricounty region).

The peer councelor program is actually set up to move women off of government assistance in most counties (actually I’ve not heard of one yet that has it set up differently but each county does operate exclusively so I use “most” instead of “all”).

Basically speaking, the director questers the Dept. of Health for a grant for xyz. If it’s to raise the breastfeeding initiation and extended b/feeding rates then the on staff IBCLC is responsible for requesting this grant. It goes hand in hand with the national breastfeeding commitees goals of in increasing both. Through that they outline how they intend to reach these goals, be it through hiring peer councelors, providing materials to doctors, offering classes or support groupts etc…

In every case I’ve witnessed (admittedly only a few states but various counties/regions in them) along with the peer councelor program there is a clause stipulating they must be clients of the WIC program to apply. As I said earlier, the program is designed to provide a job skill to women who otherwise may not be employable due to lack of experience. Once they are hired, they will not lose their job if they are over the income levels for WIC, but since the program is designed to move families off of assistance, in most cases you will need to be within the WIC income bracket.

Hiring comes into play when they know how much the grant is they are receiving. If they do not receive grant funds appropriated for that purpose, they do not hire councelors that year.

It’s kind of silly really when you think about it. They used to have volunteer positions available. That died out long before my daughter was born, sadly.

I would check into it further and be sure this is even an option for you if you aren’t already employed. It may be trickier than you thought, however, if all they want to see is philanthropy, (and someone correct me here if I’m wrong), I see no reason why La Leche League could not fulfill that roll or even assisting with your local hospital based breastfeeding support group. Obviously, with that route you would need to start through simply attending and getting to know the LC, but it is a thought, none the less.

Ahhhhhh, I wondered about this. I have seen bits and pieces about these peer counseling programs where reference is made to those roles’ being fulfilled by WIC members. But I couldn’t find anything definitive one way or the other. Thanks for the explanation. If that’s the case, I certainly don’t meet the requirements. Maybe they have something I can do around there, though.

I am on hold now with a local ped’s BF clinic/support center. He is known as the most BF friendly ped in town.

Sweet. I talked to the ped who runs the clinic and got some more info. He is an old guy – probably 70 – who has been an IBCLC for years. For a number of years, he ran a BF clinic for his patients out of his office that was staffed by him and another IBCLC. She died of melanoma two years ago and his certification expires in July and he wasn’t sure what direction he was going to go with the clinic.

He said that he may have some work for me to do. Obviously, we cannot hold me out as an LC, but he said it would be great if he could let new moms come in to the office or call me for encouragement and support on issues that I am equipped to deal with (I presume he means positioning, identifying latch problems, educating on normal feeding patterns, helping with pumping mechanics, etc.).

I’m meeting with him next Thursday. I’m excited! I may even get a good rec out of the deal, which would be awesome.

Good for you! I think that would be even closer to what you wanted on apps too! Keep us posted on how it goes.