LLL Leader, a Pathway to Become a Lactation Consultant?

Linda Wieser, Nova Scotia, Canada

As Leaders, we often get inquiries from women who want to become both LLL Leaders and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs). Since the Leader Accreditation Department (LAD) is an international department, we want to make sure that all Leaders are responding the same way to such inquiries.

When contacted by a mother interested in becoming a Leader as part of a pathway toward becoming an IBCLC, help the mother decide on her goals. Ask her why she wants to become an LLL Leader and whether this is something she wants to do even if she never reaches her goal to become a lactation consultant. Discuss with her the volunteer responsibilities of a Leader and the time commitment and requirements for accreditation. She may have no idea how extensive the La Leche League accreditation program is.

Before initiating a discussion, you may want to thank the person for her interest in becoming a Leader and send her this resource. If she is still interested, encourage her to start attending Series Meetings if she is not already a member of an LLL Group. If she lives in an isolated town or city where there is no LLL Group, please refer her to the Coordinator of Leader Accreditation (CLA) for your Area.

One of our responsibilities as a Leader is to identify and support Leader Applicants.  In order to apply for leadership, it is necessary to meet the prerequisites as outlined in LLLI Policies and Standing Rules (PSR) Appendix 18, “Applying for Leadership” (LLLID and password required) and have a recommendation from a Leader. An interest in becoming an IBCLC does not disqualify someone from applying for leadership. As with any interested person, you will need to have a thorough pre-application discussion. Share the resource Thinking About La Leche League Leadership? and use Pre-Application Guidelines for Leaders as a checklist for your discussion. (Some entities may use a different document for those interested in leadership.) If she meets the prerequisites to applying for leadership and understands what is involved in becoming an LLL Leader, then any other related goals such as becoming a doula, IBCLC, or childbirth educator may be irrelevant.

There are currently many Leaders who are also IBCLCs. Some were certified after being accredited as a Leader; others may have been an IBCLC and then decided to become an LLL Leader; and others may have become accredited almost simultaneously.  Being a volunteer LLL Leader and a paid health professional are two different roles that can overlap, and it is important to keep the two roles separate and avoid mixing causes. Discussing this with the interested person before she applies is encouraged. As part of your discussion, it may be helpful to share the LLLI policy statement Code of Ethics: Leaders with Personal, Professional, or Commercial Interests and the Mixing Causes Statement in PSR Appendix 10, Cooperative Action Guidelines for Leaders (LLLID and password required). Some LLL entities have specific policies which you can share and discuss as well.

If you have further questions about this topic, please contact the CLA for your Area.

Linda Wieser lives in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia, Canada, where she and her husband, Jim, have a large garden and several boats for playing around on the water. They have two grown daughters and one grandson who will be two in October. Linda has been a Leader since 1984. For many years she worked in the Professional Liaison Department as Area Professional Liaison for Michigan, USA, and then Atlantic Canada. In 2008, she became a member of the LAD and is currently the Administrator of Leader Accreditation for LLL Canada.  She is also the Contributing Editor for the “Preparing for Leadership” column in Leader Today.