The lactation consultant : an emerging profession
Smith, Shirley R.
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Breastfeeding seems to have had upward and downward trends in popularity. The reason why women choose to breastfeed their babies can be affected by many factors. The medical profession appears to understand that breastfeeding is physiologically, economically, and nutritionally best suited for newborns; however, there seems to be a void in the health care system when it comes to educating new mothers about breastfeeding their babies or how to overcome problems with breastfeeding once a problem exists. The purpose of this study was to understand the role of the lactation consultant by becoming knowledgeable about who they are, their academic preparation, employment, services provided by them, their continuing education and future goals. A questionnaire was developed and the data was collected at a national continuing education conference for lactation consultants during the summer of 1993. The sample consisted of 319 participants who were in attendance at the conference. The questionnaires were randomly distributed as participants registered for the conference. Data was analyzed by the use of a computer program, Statistical Package for Social Sciences. The findings can be used to understand the role of lactation consultants and how they assist other medical and health care professionals, as well as the general lay-public. Lactation consultants do have a place on the health care team and need to be acknowledged for it.