Where CLC Training Led Me

In 2016 and 2017, HealthConnect One partnered with the Healthy Children Project, Inc. to offer Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC) Training Scholarships to Community-Based Doulas and Breastfeeding Peer Counselors who were (1) Trained under the HealthConnect One curriculum and (2) Providing breastfeeding support in their communities. Jalyn Spencer-Harris shares below how she leveraged one of three CLC training scholarships in 2016.

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My name is Jalyn Spencer-Harris. I have had an interest and passion for working with mothers and babies even before I had my first child, who is now seventeen. I breastfed him for 2.5 years. My daughter just turned 4 and breastfed for 3 years.

Over the years, I’ve delved into alternative medicine and midwifery, and I did a brief stint in nursing school, but never imagined I would end up working in the lactation field. I now realize this is the best career, and it actually chose me.

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I found out about a training opportunity through Focus:Hope in Detroit, Michigan to become a breastfeeding peer counselor. It sounded interesting, so I interviewed and was accepted into the program. When my daughter was 4 months old, I started working as a peer counselor with Black Mothers’ Breastfeeding Association (BMBFA). I learned a lot about breastfeeding by doing home visits and working with mothers in my community. It was challenging work but ultimately, it allowed me to get a lot of hands-on experience helping mothers breastfeed.

I heard about the CLC scholarship through my supervisor at BMBFA. She made it mandatory that we apply, so, at the time, it just seemed like another task added to my already busy schedule. I was very surprised when I received it. Of course, after going through the CLC training, I’m so happy that I was told to apply for the scholarship. I probably wouldn’t have enrolled on my own, given the expense.

Although I felt that I knew quite a bit before attending the training, I learned about assessing a latch, risks of labor medications, scope of practice, efficacy of galactagogues, current lactation research, and a whole lot more!

A few months after the training, I heard about a breastfeeding peer counselor job opportunity at WIC. Having the CLC made me stand out as a candidate and I was offered the position at a higher hourly rate. Through the inspiration and encouragement of a few International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) in my community, I decided to prepare for the IBCLC exam. With the CERPS I received from the CLC training combined with 3 years of working as a peer counselor, I was able to meet the requirements to sit for the exam. In April 2017, I took the IBCLC exam . . . and in June, I learned that I passed!

The CLC training ultimately led me to becoming an IBCLC. I feel very thankful and blessed that I had this opportunity, and I’m very excited for my future as an IBCLC in my community.