Breastfeeding Educator Program™- An Overview
An educational offering that provides a comprehensive overview of breastfeeding promotion and assistance strategies is available for health care providers and breastfeeding advocates. This program is trademarked and can only be presented by Lactation Consultant Services™.

The Breastfeeding Educator Program™ addresses normal circumstance breastfeeding and challenges commonly experienced in a chronologic format beginning in the prenatal period until weaning. Discussions about assisting employed breastfeeding mothers and mothers with critically ill infants are also included. Promoting breastfeeding among socioeconomically disadvantaged and facilitating change in clinical settings are addressed. Evidence-based, practical, clinical management strategies and discussion of the professional literature as rationale for practice are emphasized throughout the program.

High risk "flags" are identified in various phases of lactation to assist health care providers prioritize their care of families who may need additional assistance and support. The breastfeeding promotion and assistance team is encouraged to help families meet their breastfeeding goals based on informed decisions. "Baby Friendly" Initiative criteria are incorporated in the sessions. The American Academy of Pediatrics' recommendations for breastfeeding management are also emphasized.

Although the basic curriculum is addressed in all presentations (to provide consistency among the program offerings) sponsoring agencies are encouraged to conduct a learning needs assessment (tool provided by Lactation Consultant Services™) to identify topics for special emphasis in their customized program.

The Breastfeeding Educator Program™ was initially developed in 1987 by Deb Bocar, RN and Linda Shrago, RN for hospital based nurses and has been continually modified to address issues encountered in home health, follow-up services, physician offices, health department and WIC settings.

See Program Agendafor additional information.

After completing the program, participants will be able to:
1) describe the process of normal lactation;
2) discuss strategies that health care providers can use to enhance breastfeeding during prenatal, intrapartum, postpartum, and weaning phases of lactation;
3) describe assistance techniques to facilitate breastfeeding during common challenges and in special circumstances;
4) identify services and resources that assist each family meet their unique breastfeeding goals based on informed decision-making.

An optional certification process is offered which entitles participants who complete the process to use the designation Certified Breastfeeding Educator™. The certification is conferred by Lactation Consultant Services™ and is available for participants who incorporate breastfeeding assistance with other perinatal health care. This certification process has been in effect since 1988 and Certified Breastfeeding Educators™ practice in a wide variety of locations throughout the United States, the Philippines, and Taiwan.

In order to reduce confusion among consumers and providers of breastfeeding assistance and promotion services, the term Certified Breastfeeding Educator™ has been trademarked and can only be awarded by the owner of the trademark which is Lactation Consultant Services™. The program emphasizes that Certified Breastfeeding Educators™ are not qualified to represent themselves as lactation consultants.

Some breastfeeding educators continue their education and become lactation consultants. (The continuing education credits earned by participating in the Breastfeeding Educator Program™ can be applied towards requirements to become a lactation consultant.) However, the goal of the Breastfeeding Educator Program™ is to prepare breastfeeding educators who are well positioned in the health care team to assist many families and communicate the normalcy of breastfeeding as they integrate breastfeeding promotion and assistance with other perinatal health services they provide.

Certification as a breastfeeding educator provides an added credential, validating special knowledge and skills for employers, professional colleagues, and consumers. It communicates that a health care provider has completed a comprehensive course and is prepared to assist breastfeeding families with normal lactation, common breastfeeding challenges, and refer families to other health care providers such as lactation consultants.

Certification as a breastfeeding educator requires attendance at the fifteen session Breastfeeding Educator Program™, completion of clinical role play demonstrations with oral discussions of the management of common breastfeeding challenges, and completion of a 50 item multiple-choice examination. Certification is conferred by Lactation Consultant Services™ and is in effect for five years. There is an additional certification fee of $25. An optional Certified Breastfeeding Educator™ pin is available for $5. See Certification Process for additional information.

Certified Breastfeeding Educators™ must re-certify every five years to maintain their certification status. Re-certification requires participation in at least five (60 minute) contact hours of continuing education related to promotion and assistance of breastfeeding within five years of certification or recertification. See Re-certification for additional information.

The program is presented by Deb Bocar, RN, MS(N), PhD, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. Dr. Bocar has presented the program more than 120 times and has been revising the program since 1987. She uses more than 4000 clinical and narrative slides, as well as video tape segments and demonstrations to illustrate the concepts in the program. Participants divide into pairs and use a Skills Equipment Kit (includes a Lactessa doll, breast model, breast shells, supplemental nursing devices, etc.) to practice procedures throughout the workshop related to positioning, latch-on, supplementation, breastmilk expression, and other assistance techniques.

Previous conference participants have reported that the program is well organized and that is emphasizes clinical applicability. The goals of the program are to increase consistency of recommendations among staff by using evidence-based breastfeeding management and client education strategies based on up-to-date information from the professional literature, and to enhance participants’ confidence in their breastfeeding promotion and assistance skills.

Dr. Bocar has presented at numerous national and international meetings (ILCA, AWHONN, LLLI Physicians' Seminar, LLLI, etc.) and has published parent education materials as well as contributed to the professional literature. See About the Developer and Presenter for additional information. She was a pioneer in co-founding the Breastfeeding Resource Center at Mercy Health Center in Oklahoma City in 1988. This was one of the first hospital-based breastfeeding support programs in the United States.

The program includes a session on making changes in community and clinical settings. Since it is known that change occurs more smoothly when more than one person from an organization attends the same continuing education program, discounted registration fees are often available for multiple participants from an agency. Dr. Bocar has studied and discussed change strategies for more than 40 years.

Sponsoring agencies determine the participant fees for the program (usually ranging from $375 to $475.) The program has been approved through the Missouri Nurses Association (MONA) for up to 25 contact hours of continuing nursing education (MONA is an American Nurses Credential Center Commission on Accreditation approved provider) and up to 25 L-CERPs by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE.) Participants receive a certificate of attendance upon completion of the program. See Continuing Education Credits & Program Policies for additional information.

The Breastfeeding Educator Program™ is presented in a variety of locations. See Up-coming Programsfor exact locations and dates. Contact specific sponsoring organizations directly to be placed on a mailing list and/or to clarify questions.

If your agency is interested in sponsoring the Breastfeeding Educator Program™, please contact usfor additional information. Summaries of usual agency expenses and a division of responsibilities between the sponsoring agency and Lactation Consultant Services™ are available.

For additional information contact:

Deb Bocar, RN, PhD, IBCLC
Director, Lactation Consultant Services™
3950 NW 27th Street
Oklahoma City, OK 73107
405-760-5343 or 405-208-4422