As a newly qualified IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant), I returned to China in November 2013. One of the first things I did was trying to find other lactation consultants in the area or other people who provide breastfeeding support. After all, one of the principals I had learned was to refer the mothers to resources in the community for follow-up. Not only so, as a newly qualified lactation consultant, I could use some support myself as well. And last but not least: If you want to win a war, you are stronger if you are more than “one”!
Through ILCA (International Lactation Consultant Association) I found a few LC’s in Beijing and Shanghai. I was introduced to a La Leche League (LLL) leader in Tianjin (on the East coast). When the regional director for the Asia Pacific and Africa Region for the IBLCE (International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners) visited China in April 2014, I discovered that in all of China there were less than ten lactation consultants (all of them foreigners); none of them even close to where I live. No training in Chinese was available, neither to become an IBCLC, nor to get a hospital registered as a “Baby Friendly Hospital”.
Good news is that LLL is active in different parts of China to train LLL leaders and peer counsellors, set up mother-to-mother support groups and provide information through their website. What about in my area? I found one lady in Taiyuan city (half an hour from where we live) who has received a peer counsellor training through LLL. This lady, together with four nurses who received some kind of lactation training, organise mother-to-mother support groups, they do consultations in the homes and they plan to start with antenatal support groups too. Great! However, I was a bit surprised about the rather high fees they ask for their services.
What is the situation now? Things are changing… more about that in my next blog.
Photo Credit: Oleksandr Panasovskyi from Noun Project