In celebration of IBCLC Day, a Faculty Spotlight on Linda Smith

Faculty Spotlight on Linda Smith to celebrate IBCLC Day

Happy International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) Day!

Union Institute & University offers one of the only online Maternal Child Health: Human Lactation programs in the country.  Union’s IBCLCs are dedicated to improving the health and well-being of mothers and infants around the world. We thank them for their dedication and commitment to promoting and supporting breastfeeding and for the positive impact they have on the lives of countless families.

Breastfeeding provides numerous health benefits for both the mother and the infant, including reduced risk of infections, allergies, and chronic diseases. However, despite its benefits, breastfeeding can also present challenges for many mothers, such as difficulties with latching, milk production, or pain. This is where IBCLCs come in. They provide evidence-based, compassionate support and care to mothers and families, helping them overcome any challenges they may face and achieve their breastfeeding goals.

To celebrate IBCLC day, we talked to Linda Smith, one of the founders of the International Lactation Consultant Association. We are so proud that Linda is an affiliate faculty member in our Maternal Child Health: Human Lactation program.

Was there a particular “A-HA” moment when you decided/thought we needed board-certified lactation consultants?

“I was a La Leche League Leader in the early 1980s. There were rumors of a “professional” breastfeeding credential being considered that would bypass the lived knowledge that existed within the La Leche League. The medical/health professionals at the time were … the kind word is “not helpful.” “

La Leche Leaders are volunteer breastfeeding counselors who breastfed their own babies. They offer practical information and moral support to nursing mothers through monthly meetings and telephone help.

Before IBCLC existed, what made someone qualified to help with lactation?

Quick answer: not much. La Leche League Leaders were knowledgeable and helpful but considered “lay” helpers only. Breastfeeding rates were low worldwide (single digits; some countries didn’t even track infant feeding). Professionals were steeped in formula feeding, period. Nurses were legally qualified but not skilled.

Tell us about your experience.

Lecturing in Beijing, China with a translator

I was a founding member of the International Lactation Consultant Association and co-developer of the credentialing program conducted by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners.  I am the author of four professional textbooks on birth and breastfeeding, and co-author of Sweet Sleep by La Leche League International. I’ve lectured in 19 countries and my presentations have been translated into 12 languages, including Chinese, Russian, and Inuktitut. I presented my key research areas to international health experts at several World Health Organization meetings.

I currently serve as consultant to the World Health Organization’s Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative and as a consultant to Baby-Friendly USA and INFACT Canada/IBFAN North America. I’ve been an expert reviewer on several documents published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Lecturing in Brandon, Manitoba for their Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative provincial launch

Tell us about your leadership participation.

I hold or have held leadership positions in the International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA), the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE), La Leche League International; American Public Health Association (APHA), United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC), American Breastfeeding Institute (ABI), and Coalition for Improving Maternity Services (CIMS).

Tell us more about yourself and your family.

I followed my husband’s military career for 26 years, living in nine cities and two countries while fitting my professional life around my family. I earned a Master of Public Health with a Global Health concentration from Boonshoft School of Medicine at Wright State University in 2011 and a Bachelor of Science in Education at the State University of New York in Cortland, majoring in physical education and hygiene in 1968.

My three (breastfed) children are now adults, my four grandchildren were all breastfed as well.

Interested in the preparation needed to sit for the IBLCE exam while getting your bachelor’s degree? Learn from the woman who “wrote the book”! Enroll today.