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Human Lactation


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This program fulfills the criteria for staff education as set by the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative. It focuses on the physiology of attachment, bonding, and breastfeeding and the short- and long-term impacts of perinatal care practices on the mother-baby dyad. It grapples with the challenges
of applying best-practice guidelines and model hospital policies to alleviate barriers for mothers choosing exclusive breastfeeding and to create environments that support maternal-infant biology and the newborn’s natural capabilities, allowing improved outcomes with less time and effort.

Breastfeeding is an important and foundational public health issue. The California Department of Public Health continues to define breastfeeding as a priority, the Affordable Care Act mandates lactation services for all mothers, and, increasingly, lactation support services are mandated by institutions and agencies within the community. National and international health authorities recommend that all maternal/child healthcare workers be educated in the skills necessary to support breastfeeding families and recognize the need for multiple levels of breastfeeding training to improve outcomes. The stackable certificates of the Human Lactation program are designed to provide these varied levels of preparation for practice.

Many service agencies require that their staff, including home visitors to families with young children, be capable of providing basic lactation counseling and of recognizing when and where to refer an individual when lactation difficulties arise. Services provided at the mid-level of preparation as a lactation educator or counselor has been shown by research to be associated with improved breastfeeding outcomes. The Breastfeeding Advisory Committee of the California Department of Health Services recommends "facilitating the integration of breastfeeding training into the curriculum at health-related professional schools throughout the state to ensure that health professionals are technically and culturally competent in delivering breastfeeding services" (DHS, 1996), and hospitals must meet Joint Commission accreditation standards for staff competency in lactation support and work towards meeting Baby Friendly Hospital standards, making this an existing and ongoing priority need for local healthcare systems and a value for students preparing to enter the perinatal care field. Courses meeting these expectations and leading towards department-level certificates are currently being offered, and it is hoped that the program will expand in the future to offer courses, and a Certificate of Achievement recorded on the student transcript, intended to fully prepare students to sit for the international board exam to become a certified lactation consultant, at the top tier of the profession.