Moms Respond to Lawmakers Who Say Lactation Consultants Aren’t Needed

Two Connecticut House Reps found themselves in the midst of controversy after arguing that "nobody needs to be taught how to breastfeed."
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By Wyndi Kappes, Associate Editor
Published May 2, 2024
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Image: Iryna Inshyna | Shutterstock

The United States has come a long way in recognizing the need for breastfeeding support for mothers over the past few decades. Today, through the Affordable Care Act or other insurance, thousands of women are guaranteed access to breastfeeding support of some kind, whether that be an in-hospital specialist or longer-term lactation consultant. Breastfeeding support, specifically lactation consultants, can be a game-changer in helping mom and baby have a more comfortable and positive breastfeeding experience. Unfortunately, some people are still a bit behind in recognizing this needed support.

Two Connecticut House Representatives, Minnie Gonzalez and Gale Mastrofrancesco, recently found themselves in the midst of controversy as they joined forces to oppose a bill seeking to license lactation consultants. The bipartisan duo argued vehemently against the proposed legislation, asserting that the need for such consultants was unnecessary, as breastfeeding is a “natural and instinctive process.”

“When I had my first-born, I didn’t have no experience with babies,” said Gonzalez, who questioned the allocation of legislative time towards what she deemed as an unnecessary measure. “Breastfeeding is natural. You know when you have a baby that’s going to happen. Honestly, this is so natural that I am shocked we need a consultant,” she said.

Mastrofrancesco agreed, saying: “Bills like this absolutely drive me crazy. Women have been breastfeeding babies for centuries,” she said, adding licenses were never required. “You know why? Because it’s a natural thing. Nobody needs to be taught how to breastfeed. It infuriates me that we have to put bills like this together. It’s madness. Do we need a license to teach our children to go to the bathroom?”

As quickly as the two made their public comments, thousands of moms rushed to defend the need for lactation consultants. In a TikTok posted with the representatives comments users shared their experiences and frustration. “4 days in the hospital and not one medical professional could get my daughter to latch. Got home, hired a lactation consultant…baby latched in 5 minutes,” wrote one mom, noting the specific need for licensed lactation consultants. “Nurse here. My first born would not latch on for a month. My lactation consultants pulled out every trick in the book. I couldn’t have done it without them,” added another.

Despite the opposition, the bill ultimately passed in a bipartisan win, with a decisive 109-37 vote in favor. The will create a $200 license fee for consultants certified by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners after training that includes 1,000 hours of clinical practice.

Proponents of the bill, including Representatives Cristin McCarthy Vahey and Jennifer Leeper, emphasized the need to distinguish between certified lactation consultants and less-trained counselors.

“Currently, anyone can call themselves a lactation consultant, even with minimal training and without a board certification," Republican Representative Klarides-Ditria added. “The public has no means of IDing a qualified lactation consultant, and no protection from unqualified practitioners. So in the state of Connecticut, licensure would assure customers, employers, hospitals and other health care providers and organizations that they are engaged with qualified, educated providers.”

The passage of the bill marks a significant step towards ensuring access to quality lactation support for all parents. If you are currently looking for a certfied lactation cosultant, check out The Lactation Network for more information.

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