The 5 worst things about being an IBCLC


You will very rarely hear me say anything negative about my chosen profession. I love my job, I love the families I see, and I love the other IBCLCs I have come to know. But like any job, being a private practice IBCLC who does home visits does have it’s down sides.

I know, SHOCKING news.

What are the absolute worst parts of my job?  The craptastic parts that I just cannot stand?  The things that make me shake my fists in the air and curse repeatedly?

5: I can’t do it for you.

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There are some things that are really hard to explain.  Yes, when I’m at a home visit, I grab my own boobs a LOT to demonstrate breast massage, compressions, latch technique- but there are still some things that would click best if I could just do them FOR you.  Take the flipple, for example.  I show people the video, I explain how to do it, but I can’t really do it for you because the angles don’t work right.

(There’s a subset of this one, called “I can’t tell you how it feels” that pops up every time someone asks me what having a let-down feels like and I say “it’s like an itchy burn of a I’m-about-to-sneeze tingle in your nipples” and they look at me really funny and move on to a different question.)

4:  I can’t move in/stay the night/come back every day


Parents always tell me that their babies nurse differently when I’m there.  the baby who won’t latch without a shield will do it beautifully when I’m in the room- not always of course, but pretty often.  “He’s showing off for you.  He always does it right when you’re here.  Why can’t you just move in?”  Sometimes I wish I could!

I recently saw a fellow IBCLC who is also a post-partum doula (unlike myself) and offers a “move-in” service- she comes to your house 4 hours a day for 5 days in a row.  Man, does that sound like heaven to me.  If any of you want to pay my hourly rate and make this work for you- I promise I’ll wash dishes much more promptly for you than I do in my own house.

3. I can’t go back in time


I love going to conferences and reading books and clinical journals- not a week goes by that I don’t learn something new about nursing babies.  Normally this is a good thing, but sometimes I think oh man, that new trick might have worked well for that family I saw six months ago.  I don’t forget families; I think about them often as the babies grow up.  Heck, I still feel bad that I couldn’t help my cousin with her breastfeeding struggles- and that was 12 years ago!

2. I can’t solve all your nursing problems instantly


I’ve talked about this one before- the lack of a magic wand is a serious disappointment in the lactation field.  While there are lots of things we can tweak and I have some great tricks up my sleeve, usually people’s breastfeeding and chestfeeding problems take time to fix.  I get that, I understand it- but it totally stinks.

1. I can’t kiss your baby


I love babies.  I can’t help it.  I’m the woman who squeals (quietly) (most of the the time) when I see a newborn in public.  It’s to the point where my children point out babies to me wherever we go.  The best thing about my job, by far,  is snuggling babies while I’m working with their families.

But when I have a sweet little baby up on my shoulder I often have an unconscious urge to kiss that baby on the head.  Unfortunately it’s probably unprofessional- and very likely unhygienic- for me to kiss my clients, so I have to resist.

And I HATE it.

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3 thoughts on “The 5 worst things about being an IBCLC

  1. Love this article. Soooo true in so many ways. The last one though…. I was schooled on this during my mentorship – Never kiss the baby. Or get my face or lips/mouth anywhere near babies face. The 2 things I hear mothers say – when they say something negative about an LC that they didn’t like – 1. She forced my baby onto my breast as she held my breast so hard it hurt. 2. She kissed my baby. New mothers, especially first time moms, are on high alert for this & it is a huge turn off. Thanks for adding some good ole fashioned humor for us IBCLCs.

    1. Yes!!! Awesome post as always! The best one I’ve heard though is a mother asking a LLL leader to latch her baby on when she found out the leader was still nursing to show how it was done. Fortunately as a mother to mother supporter and a lactation professional I haven’t had any experience that crazy but I always wish I could help mom more. I think we all do as professionals <3. It's so hard to not snuggle and hug all the babies though!

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