When I Got My IBLCE Exam Results I Felt …

like I had just won a pole-vault event!

Here’s what happened. I was on the road, headed to teach my Comprehensive Lactation Course in Dallas, TX when I got a text message from Linda in my office. (If you have ever had the pleasure to talk with Linda, you know how wonderful she is!)

Her text read: “Looks like your IBLCE results came in the mail. Do you want me to open the envelope?”

I instantly sent a reply text shouting, “YES!” I eagerly awaited a reply, but none came. At first, I thought “Oh, well, it’s Monday morning, the office is probably busy.”

After a few more minutes, I thought “Oh, what if I didn’t pass? Linda might be sitting there trying to figure out how to tell her boss she failed!”

Finally I got the text. Two words that carried huge weight: “You passed.”

Whew! Honestly, maybe it’s just that I’m getting older, but I admit I was nervous on the way to the exam site this summer! I’m very confident of my computer skills, but there was something creepy about doing the exam online. And, I’m still miffed about how they allot the timing of each section, as well as how they describe how much time you have to complete each section. This was nerve-wracking from start to finish.

Why did I feel like I had won a pole-vault event?

Because this year’s scoring is the highest IBLCE has set the “bar”—ever. The pass rate for this year’s exam was 71.4% (125 of 175 questions). Never in the history of the IBLCE exam has the passing rate been this high.

The only thing that matters, though, is whether you jumped over that bar. No one knows—or cares—if you cleared the bar by a tenth of a point or 10 points or more. As long as you cleared it, you get to use IBCLC after your name. There! Now you know how I felt when I got my results!

How did you feel when you got your exam results?

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Help for Mothers with Postpartum Depression

According to the American Psychological Association, about 9-16% of American mothers experience postpartum depression. That’s about 1 in every 7 to 10 mothers. The prevalence of postpartum depression among mothers who have experienced it previously is even higher–estimated to be about 41%. Do these figures sound staggering? They are. Sadly, they may not reflect the whole problem. Many women are reluctant to talk about their symptoms and go undiagnosed. An accurate count of postpartum depression incidence may actually be much higher.
 
Sources such as WebMD report what many of us hear from new mothers we know. They realize they feel depressed and that something is wrong. But when they report it to their doctors at their 6 weeks check-up, they are told that it is the “baby blues” due to “hormones.” They are assured it will go away. For many women, it doesn’t. Treatment is just delayed while they struggle with depression unaided.
Similarly, women are often given erroneous advice about breastfeeding—including the advice to stop breastfeeding if they feel depressed—and yet, there is no evidence that breastfeeding causes or contributes to postpartum depression. (To the contrary, at least one study has suggested that breastfeeding may help protect against postpartum depression.)
 
Understandably, when facing these obstacles, many women lack the strength to talk about their depression, or get the help they need.
Luckily, some women do talk openly about their experience. Singer and talk-show host Marie Osmond went public about her struggle with postpartum depression on Oprah and Larry King Live, helping thousands of women to realize they are not alone.  Her book, Behind the Smile, demonstrates to all mothers that it’s possible to get help, get better, and move on.  Similarly, actress Brooke Shields shared her experience with postpartum depression (including suicidal thoughts) in the media and through her book Down Came the Rain, shedding light on the problem. In a book out this month, Amy Poehler talks candidly about her experience with postpartum depression after the birth of her first child and how one doctor recommended she put on a “pretty dress” and see a Broadway show to resolve it. (As if!)
Whether you are a mother with sad feelings, a loved one of a mother who has experienced postpartum depression, or a professional who wants to help mothers talk about their situation and empower them to continue breastfeeding, you’ll want to hear my discussion with author and expert Dr. Kathleen Kendall-Tackett about the myths and facts about postpartum depression, from recognizing the problem to seeking help and overcoming it.
“Depression is a prison where you are both the suffering prisoner and the cruel jailer.” — Dorothy Rowe
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Formula and GMO. OMG!

Have you ever chuckled at the sight of a parent buying organic formula for her infant? Does it seem a bit like putting a bouquet of fake flowers into a crystal vase full of water?

Okay, maybe you’re thinking something a little different than that, but you have to admit that the idea is worth a laugh. It may seem that the parent is in denial, assuming that organic formula is somehow a better match for human milk than standard formula. Or maybe it seems that the organic label has prettied up the repulsive formula, so that the parent doesn’t have to feel guilty about not breastfeeding.

You and I probably agree that nothing is equivalent to breastfeeding. But if you’re laughing about the parent’s selection of organic formula, I encourage you to read Dr. Michelle Perro’s guest post on GMOInside. Dr. Perro, a pediatrician, gives a strong recommendation for breastfeeding, but notes that she “insists upon” organic formula for babies who are not being breastfed.  Why?

As Dr. Perro explains, non-organic formula contains herbicides, products that are toxic to plants. One frequently-used herbicide, glyphosate (GLI-fo-sate), has toxic effects and is detrimental to infant development in two ways:

  1. Exposure to glyphosate impairs the baby’s immature liver function, changing important enzymes and immune function. Hence the amount of “friendly” bacteria in the baby’s gut decreases, which leaves the baby’s gut to be occupied with “enemy” bacteria.
  2. The baby’s liver does not mature until about 2 years old. Although she does not for a moment imply cause and effect, she does note that the pesticides in formula may be in some way related to an alarming increase in childhood disorders, including allergies, autoimmunity, and neurological disorders, including autism and ADHD.

Should we wait for logic and studies to “prove” such a relationship, or should we just look right now at the labels of our formula bottles and, feeling disgusted at the known contaminants, choose the best we can?

In my Comprehensive Lactation Course, I show real labels from real formula cans. In her article, Dr. Perro does the same. You can look at some for yourself.

The first two ingredients you’ll probably see in this staple of “baby nutrition” are corn syrup and sugar. Are you horrified? Did you think that in today’s world we would have moved beyond corn syrup and sugar as a source of “nutrition” for our babies? Are you outraged? Do you feel like the baby is being fed pecan pie filling without the pecans? But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Corn syrup and sugar are worse than you think. These have a high degree of genetic modification. Allow me to explain what that means. The NonGMO Project defines genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) as “plants or animals that have been genetically engineered with DNA from bacteria, viruses or other plants and animals.” Eewwwww! Are you as repulsed as I am by the idea of genetically-engineered DNA from bacteria, viruses, or other plants and animals going into a newborn’s body? Of course you are. Anyone would be—anyone, apparently, except the majority of Americans.

As the NonGMO Project explains, “[m]ost developed nations do not consider GMOs to be safe. In more than 60 countries around the world, including Australia, Japan, and all of the countries in the European Union, there are significant restrictions or outright bans on the production and sale of GMOs.”

Let’s think about this. We are allowing the youngest members of our society to be exposed to this wretched stuff from the day they are born. At the same time, we worry that we should not make mothers “feel guilty” for feeding their babies with formula.

Maybe we should feel guilty for ever letting this pesticide-laden stuff go into what is, for all too many babies, their sole source of nutrition. And I, for one, should stop laughing at the idea of organic formula.

 

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A Born to be Breastfed (and Marie Biancuzzo) Milestone

I am pleased to share the text of the press release that posted today celebrating my one-year anniversary helping moms and health care providers in my role as “Born to be Breastfed” host. Please share. –MB

Born to be Breastfed Celebrates One-Year Anniversary Helping Moms and Health Care Providers

–Marie Biancuzzo enters second year on VoiceAmerica’s Health & Wellness Channel. –

Herndon, VA, September 29, 2014 Marie Biancuzzo, host of “Born to be Breastfed,” celebrated her show’s one-year anniversary on the VoiceAmerica Talk Radio Network with the announcement that it will continue through fall 2015. The show airs every Monday from 6 PM to 7 PM ET on the VoiceAmerica Health & Wellness Channel, and it is available as a free podcast on iTunes and Stitcher.

“On Born to be Breastfed, I aim to help mothers bust through the myths and clarify the facts about breastfeeding,” explained Marie Biancuzzo, Past President of the Baby-Friendly USA Board of Directors and current Educational Director at Breastfeeding Outlook, a continuing education provider accredited by both the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation and the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners. “We’ve done this since the first episode—but there is still a lot of material to cover.”

“We’ve had a diverse and excellent group of guests on the show, including Diana West, Karen Kerkhoff Gromada, James Akre, Nancy Mohrbacher, Kimberly Seals Allers, the Laurie Berkner Band, and many others,” Ms. Biancuzzo said. “Every week, our guests help us explore issues of maternal and infant health, child feeding and development, public health, and social and cultural issues to support listeners in setting and meeting their breastfeeding goals.”

“The show has been a welcome addition to the VoiceAmerica line up,” noted Born to be Breastfed’s Marketing Director Celina Schneider. “Listens to show podcasts average about 16,000 each month, the show has been in the channel’s Top Six for the past seven months, twice at #1. We’re looking forward to seeing what’s coming in the year ahead!”

To celebrate this one-year anniversary, “Born to be Breastfed” is offering listeners the show player to put on their website for free! Contact Celina Schneider at celina@breastfeedingoutlook.com for details.

Tune in to “Born to be Breastfed” each Monday at 6 PM ET (3 PM PT) on the VoiceAmerica Health & Wellness channel, or listen to past shows as podcasts through iTunes, Stitcher, or the show’s web site.

Contact: Celina Schneider, Marketing and Advertising Director
703-304-8079
celina@breastfeedingoutlook.com

 

About Marie Biancuzzo/Born to be Breastfed
Marie Biancuzzo, RN, MS, IBCLC, host of “Born to be Breastfed” is an experienced breastfeeding professional who aims to cut through the misinformation, bust the myths, and help families figure out what science they can trust. A clinical nurse specialist and international board certified lactation consultant, Marie has more than 3 decades of experience in community and teaching hospitals, counseling mothers, and teaching health care providers. From the mother’s bedside to the university classroom to the international continuing education arena, Marie has honed her skills at helping listeners to clarify the facts empower the family. Author of two books and multiple articles, Marie is passionate about helping parents and providers to be good consumers of health care and scientific information. Marie is a founding member of the United States Breastfeeding Committee and the past president of Baby-Friendly USA Board of Directors.As the Educational Director of Breastfeeding Outlook, Marie helps nurses and other breastfeeding educators learn what they need to know; through Born to be Breastfed, Marie—and her expert guests—help families, too.

About VoiceAmerica/World Talk Radio LLC
World Talk Radio, LLC is the world leader in online media broadcasting and the largest producer and distributor of live internet based talk radio and TV, delivering over 1,000 hours of programming weekly on its VoiceAmerica™ Network (http://www.voiceamerica.com) as well as live and on-demand video content on VoiceAmerica.TV (http://www.voiceamerica.tv). Featuring more than 200 hosts broadcasting to seven niche community based channels: its flagship VoiceAmerica™ Variety Channel, VoiceAmerica™ , Empowerment, VoiceAmerica™ Health & Wellness Channel, VoiceAmerica™ Business Channel, VoiceAmerica Sports, 7th Wave Channel, and VoiceAmerica™ Kids Channel. VoiceAmerica™ TV offers targeted and exclusive video programming channels. VoiceAmerica™ /World Talk Radio, LLC is one of the pioneers in internet broadcasting, producing and syndicating online audio and video, offering an innovative, effective and comprehensive digital broadcast platform. Digital Publishing through its 14 years of broadcast and media experience along with our seasoned staff of Executive Producers, Production and Host Services Group, VoiceAmerica™ /World Talk Radio, LLC provides an internet radio and video platform for new, emerging and veteran media personalities to expand and monetize their business and brand in an online digital medium.

 

To learn more about the new radio program, visit the VoiceAmerica Health and Wellness Channel website: http://www.voiceamerica.com/Channel/248/voiceamerica-health-and-wellness

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Choosing Success

Making choices is seldom easy. I hear this all the time. Women tell me about the choices they’ve made—or choices they’ve allowed to be made for them. They tell me how they felt hesitant to make any choice, or compelled to make the “easier” or more “reasonable” choice than the one they really wanted, the one that would lead them to a sense of fulfillment. Whether it is how to feed their babies or what to do with their career, many have one thing in common: They settle for the reasonable choice rather than the right one, the one that would lead to a life-changing experience.

I hear it a lot: “I want to get my IBCLC credential …” “I want to get my lactation credits …” “I want to get a job where I can help moms with breastfeeding …” “I want to own my own business …”

Too often, this is followed by “…but I can’t because …”

Although these women want to help mothers overcome challenges and achieve breastfeeding success, they allow themselves to be caught up in professional challenges that stymie their own success. They acknowledge that they are making a choice that feels difficult or even unreasonable under the circumstances. But their decision-making process lacks something that the women who go after what they want have.

I remember a woman who came up to me at the end of my Comprehensive Lactation Course in Dallas. She told me about her low-paying job, parenting responsibilities, unsupportive boss, distance from the course—a host of barriers that could have been a deterrent to pursuing the credential she really wanted. She said it had taken her seven years to organize the time and money it took to attend the course, and that she had done so only after a lot of “shopping” for the course she thought would best help her pass the exam, get a better-paying job, and help other mothers to breastfeed.

The course had just finished, I was done teaching for the week, and here I was learning something from the woman I’d just been teaching! As I hoped that the course would help her reach her goals, I felt impressed that although it took her so long she had stayed the course. Women who are empowered to make the choices they most desire—not necessarily the easy or reasonable ones but the ones that are right for them—have a connection with themselves and with other people.

The conversation called to mind this quote, from Robert Fritz’s The Path of Least Resistance: “If you limit your choice only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is a compromise.”

The journey to IBCLC is often challenging, but commitment to what feels right for you can make all the difference.

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View from the Hot Seat: Lessons Learned from the IBLCE Exam

Although I make my living as a lactation educator (Lactation Exam Review, Comprehensive Lactation Course, and more), I too have to take the IBLCE exam. Sitting for the exam is downright exhausting. It’s taken me days to regain my energy and put together my thoughts about the experience. (I admit it! That’s partly because I was busy with a national conference of breastfeeding coalitions—an experience much more enjoyable than taking the exam!)

It’s been five years since I last took the IBLCE exam. The test has changed quite a bit in that time. The format has changed. The number of items has changed. The testing period has changed. Here’s what I learned from taking the 2014 exam:

1) It’s not really a 4-hour test.
In its exam authorization letter, IBLCE writes that the exam “consists of 175 multiple-choice questions, 102 of which are associated with an image. The exam is given in 2 parts. You will have 4 hours to complete the exam, which includes two hours to complete Part 1 and two hours to complete Part 2.”

In practice, you don’t have “four hours” to complete the exam. You have “two hours” to complete each part of the exam. Even this is not equal; the parts have differing numbers of questions.

Here’s my tip: IBLCE exam-takers this year had 120 minutes to address 73 text-based questions of Part I, and 120 minutes to address 102 image-based questions of Part II. Be prepared!

2) Plan your break strategically.
The IBLCE allows exam-takers to take a break, but does not provide a specific time for it. Referring again to the exam authorization letter: “There are no scheduled breaks between Part 1 and Part 2 of the exam. Any minutes that you do not use to complete Part 1 will not be rolled over to Part 2.”

Here’s my tip: If you finish Part I of the exam before your time is up, before you click the “Finished” button, go take your break! You’ll want to take the “break time” while the clock is running on your first (nearly completed) section … not during the as-yet-unseen Part 2. This ensures that you have the full 2 hours you are allotted for tackling the second part of the exam. (And if you’re an older test-taker like me, consider applying for a scheduled break.)

3) Core principles of lactation care are timeless.
I recognized at least two photos included on the 2014 exam. I have seen them on other occasions during the past 25 or 30 years; I’ve even used them in my own courses. Although we in the health care field talk a lot about “new” research and “new” information, these photos remain relevant for today’s exam-takers and lactation-focused health care providers.

Here’s my tip: Focus on the core principles and concepts—and don’t be distracted by the outdated visual elements.

4) Flag for review judiciously.
When taking Part I, I flagged many, many questions to review again later. When I pushed the button to “Review flagged items,” I felt overwhelmed. I felt like I ought to change all of the answers just because I had doubted them—even though I know that’s not a good test-taking strategy!
I’m not saying that flagging an item for review is a bad idea, but I’m saying that it opens a door of temptation that I shouldn’t walk through too often.

Here’s my tip: Flag carefully.

5) Have confidence in the material you know.
There’s no telling how much time I wasted worrying about the exam content, or doing some last-minute studying. In fact, I would say last-minute studying did not help me at all.

Here’s my tip: A good night’s sleep and a healthy breakfast support exam success more than last-minute studying will!

So, that’s what you need to know, IBLCE exam-taker!

And, IBLCE, a few words of advice about the test structure:
- Allow MORE TIME for the more difficult, longer section of image-based test items! Since it includes about 40% more items than the text-based Part I, Part 2 deserves more time.’

- Check the clocks. This may have been an isolated incident, but I was hyper-vigilant about my time—especially when I sat down for Part 2—and I firmly believe that my clock counted down from “110 minutes” rather than the “120” it should have started with.

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Prepare Soon To Ensure You’re Ready Later

MBC_GraphicMany test takers seem to equate “recently taught” with “best remembered,” although I have never seen a scrap of research in the education literature to support that idea. Having taught hundreds of IBLCE exam candidates over the past several years,I can’t recall a single instance that supports that assumption. But among IBLCE test-takers I see a clear pattern.

Each year, we offer my Comprehensive Lactation Course in the fall and the spring. I’ve found that few people register for the autumn courses, and many register for the spring courses. Over and over again, IBLCE exam candidates call and inquire about this course so that they can get all 90 of the lactation-focused hours they need to sit for the exam, but many are reluctant to register for the fall courses. We field numerous calls, every week–sometimes every day–with exam candidates who tell us “I don’t want to take the course that early. I’ll forget what I learned by the time I go the exam in July.”

Au contraire! I can think of several reasons why taking the course early can be a big advantage:

Advantage #1: Interactive Learning is Retained
People who come to my course realize are engaged by an interactive teaching style within the first few minutes. Research in the education world shows that people retain more information when they are actively involved in learning, rather than passively listening to a lecture. People in my course retain what they learn.

Advantage #2: Hundreds of Pages of Syllabus for Review
Unlike most courses where participants get copies of bullet-point slides, my course offers a user-friendly syllabus that is chock-full of facts, ideas, and individual learning exercises and leads on additional resources that can be reviewed or reinforced later. Taking the course early gives people plenty of time to reinforce and review what they’ve learned.

Advantage #3: About 60 hours of Online Review
Because we offer a hybrid course, course participants are required to do hours of online “preparation” before the live, on-site session. That “preparation” can also serve as review. Every participant has the opportunity to review the online study materials as many times as they wish, until a few days AFTER the IBLCE exam. People do better when they do the preparatory learning, do the on-site learning, and then go back and review the preparatory materials afterwards. It all “gels” better. Register for a fall course for longer access to these valuable resources.

Advantage #4: Application of Learning Cements Learning
Applying your “class” or “book” knowledge in the real world is the best way to cement what you’ve learned in the classroom. If you have ever attended nursing school, applied for a driver’s license, or learned to knit, you know what I mean. When you learn your facts and then apply that information to the actual situation, you are more likely to retain what you’ve learned. Taking the course early helps to cement your knowledge.

Advantage #5: You’ll be set up to make the MARCH 2 deadline.
Most people think that since the IBLCE exam is in July, credits can be submitted until shortly before that. That’s just not the case. Since its debut in 1985, the IBLCE exam has been given once a year, during the last week in July. (There is a promise that it will be given twice a year in the future.) However, the first-time candidate must submit her credits long before that. In 2015, the submission deadline is March 2. Earning the credits in the fall makes it easy to met the submission deadline in the early spring.

Advantage #6: You’ll get a coupon for our Lactation Exam Review
If you attend our comprehensive course, you’ll get a coupon for a discount on our Lactation Exam Review course. Many course participants don’t redeem the coupon; the comprehensive course arms you with a wealth of knowledge and plenty of material to review to reinforce what you’ve learned, and we offer many other exam prep materials. But those who are particularly concerned about in-person review immediately before the exam are welcome to take both courses!

We’re here to help you succeed in meeting your IBLCE exam goals. We wouldn’t offer the fall courses if we didn’t have every confidence they could help you along your IBCLC journey. We hope to see you in the fall! (Note: Register today–or anytime before August 8th–and save big!)

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Mothers On the Go: Breastfeeding and Pumping in Airports Across America

Join Marie for “Born to be Breastfed” on Monday, July 28 and discussion of this important topic.

Every podcast episode makes me think. Preparing beforehand, reflecting afterwards, or both—every topic, every guest, every show is on my mind for some time. But this show, “Mothers On the Go: Breastfeeding and Pumping in Airports Across America,” is on my mind even now, hours after taping. I am still reeling from talking with Jeremy Blackman and his wife Nina about how airports lack a reasonable accommodation for a woman who needs to pump milk for her baby. I’m impressed by the vision of Gene Richardson, Director of Avitation at the Burlington International Airport, and Sascha Mayer, owner of the Mamava, who spearheaded efforts to build a modular Lactation Station within that facility. Several times during the show, Mr. Richardson said the decision to create such a room was a “no-brainer.” I think he probably underestimates his insightfulness, but there is a no-brainer in this story—airport personnel thinking that the “restroom” or “bathroom” is an appropriate place for a mother to express her milk.

The Purpose of the Place

Let’s think about it. It may sound innocuous and maybe even helpful for the airport staffer to direct a woman who needs to pump her milk to go to the “restroom.” But a restroom is actually not a place for rest.  The restrooms in airports, hotels, and other public places are anything but restful. They would be better termed “hurry-up rooms,” as one generally does what one must do before quickly dashing to catch a flight.

The words “bathroom” and “lavatory” may be used and are similarly unhelpful to the breastfeeding mother. Even in one’s home, where a “bath” may be present, the bathroom is more likely to be used for urination or defecation than for bathing. While the word “lavatory” is drawn from the Latin “to lavare” and means “to wash,” although one does wash one’s hands there, the main purpose is to leave and flush excrement.

Maybe airport personnel would understand the problem if we referred to these rooms for what they are: the” toilet room,” the “pee room,” the “poop room,” the “excrement room.” Grossed out? Disgusted? Does it seem repulsive to use such terms—slang for what really goes on there—for those places?

Such terms are evocative. Powerful, even. I bet you could practically see the room, maybe even smell it, when you read those terms.  Good, I’m glad. Thinking that way is a strong reminder that the room where adults excrete waste from food should not be a room where a woman secretes her baby’s food! That is the true no-brainer here.

A Place for the Purpose

Some people seem to think that just because the “women’s rest room” is the place for women in the airport (the place that men are not allowed to be) that it is the place that they should feel comfortable feeding their baby or expressing the milk from their breasts.

I’m trying to imagine how comfortable I would feel as a pumping mother: finding an outlet … standing at the counter … leaning over my breast pump … bare-chested … trying not to spill any of the precious milk my baby needs … hoping  the milk and my pump aren’t contaminated by splashing water,  soapy hands, or germs I’d rather not consider … trying to ignore the ‘wheeee-wheooo’ noise of the pump and focus on a good let-down of milk … praying for the bottles to fill quickly … balancing the flanges … trying not to spill milk on myself while another woman is rushing by—in a hurry, with luggage, holding a child’s hand, whatever …

Or how about as a breastfeeding mother: perching on a toilet … holding baby in my arms and trying not to let her come in contact with the surrounding walls or seat … constrained by the dimensions of the bathroom stall and the diaper bag hanging on the hook of the stall door … trying not to think about the germs that we are unable to avoid … wondering how others would feel if their lunch were prepared in the restroom (toilet room) …

It’s a no-brainer that’s not a place for the purpose of pumping. But it’s the reality of many women traveling through U.S. airports every day.

A Place With a Purpose

It seems to me that we make all sorts of accommodations for people who have needs—and rightly so. Our public buildings are ADA-compliant. Businesses set aside parking spots for the comfort of their pregnant patrons. We have express checkout lanes in the grocery store to accommodate those who are buying just a few things, and there are escorts available for children who are flying without a parent or guardian along. Airports have chapels to meet the needs of flyers who worship, free Wi-fi for those who want to access the Internet, and any number of other accommodations to meet the creature comforts of travelers.

It’s time for all airports to follow the lead of Gene Richardson and Sascha Mayer and offer lactation stations or mother’s rooms for those who need them.

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A Word from Your 4-Month-Old — as Translated by a Passing Nurse

Hot and sweaty, I began the trudge from the cardio machines to the women’s locker room at the YMCA. I passed two young mothers who were sitting together in lounge chairs. One had a baby with her whom I took to be about 4 months old. She was trying to feed him something; I couldn’t tell what. Each time she brought it to his mouth, he batted it away. Offer and bat, offer and bat, offer and bat. I wanted to blurt out, “Lady, he doesn’t want it!” But, I needed a shower, and honestly, I always have trouble figuring out where my nurse-advice should begin or end when I encounter strangers. I headed for the shower, and didn’t give the incident a second thought. Until, walking from the shower area to the locker area, I passed by the women conversing on a bench.

“Well, what did your pediatrician say?” asked the one woman. The other replied, “He said to start solids at 4 months.” There was a pause. “Oh. Well, yeah, mine said that too. Maybe you can try a different food with her.” Okay, that did it! I felt compelled to go into nurse mode.

Clad in a towel and flip-flops with hair sopping wet, I decided to deliver my abbreviated rant to these two mothers. “Every pediatrician I’ve ever met belongs to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the AAP. But the AAP, the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, the United States Breastfeeding Committee, the World Health Organization, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Nurse Midwives, the American Dietetics Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and every other major organization that I know of says that soft, solid or semi-solid foods should not be started until the baby is 6 months old.” The women looked at me, with eyes as big as saucers. I quickly added. “You can verify what I said by checking on the web-and you should check, don’t take my word or anyone’s word for it-but I’m very confident that what I’ve just said is accurate.”

Did I poke my nose in where it doesn’t belong? Maybe. But I’ve about had it here. The baby had clearly spoken. But the mother didn’t hear the baby’s message. She heard only the pediatrician’s message. Unfortunately, this scenario is not uncommon. I hear this over and over from mothers. I hear this from nurses, lactation consultants, childbirth educators and others in cities where I teach. It’s not a local thing. All across the country, wherever I go, this is what I hear. What do mothers hear?

Mothers hear the message from the doctor. But they aren’t hearing the message from their babies. This mother’s baby spoke loud and clear. She did not hear her baby’s message. I just tried to amplify that message in a way that she might hear it.

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Relieve Yourself of Worry about Research!

I wish I had a nickel for every IBLCE exam candidate who has said to me: “The research questions scare me. What should I do?”

I wish I had a nickel for everyone who has hated my answer!

It’s simple: Know your stuff. I can give you all of the test-taking tips in the world, but they won’t do you bit of good if you don’t actually know your stuff. And, after preparing literally thousands of people for the IBLCE exam, I can tell you, with certainty, most IBLCE candidates don’t know their stuff where it comes to research. I distinctly remember an interaction from my Lactation Exam Review course in Denver. A woman sitting on my left about half-way from the front said, “Marie, this research stuff all looks like Greek to me! And so I can’t understand it because I don’t speak Greek! I don’t read Greek!” Oh, I felt like this conversation had been scripted! She had given me the cue, and I was ready to deliver my next line!

I said to her, “If you were going to Greece and wanted to speak the language of the locals, what would you do? You would learn the vocabulary. True, you might have great difficulty actually putting a sentence together, but you wouldn’t stand a chance of doing so unless you knew your vocabulary! You must know simple words or phrases. Bathroom?  Along with a shrug and raised eyebrows, would be a one-word but much-needed question if you need to relieve yourself! But if you didn’t know the Greek word for bathroom, you’d continue to find yourself mighty uncomfortable.  Knowing the vocabulary is the first step in speaking Greek, or in learning the research.”

Feel free to go back to college or buy a big heavy textbook if you wish. But instead, please consider our flashcards. I doubt that $12 for the pack will send you to the poorhouse–but knowing the vocabulary for just one question might make the difference between your passing or failing the IBLCE exam. Shuffle them, re-use them, wear them out. Just learn the vocabulary, have the conversation and relieve yourself of this worry!

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