We are proud to call Carole Peterson, MS, IBCLC, RLC, and Chairperson of the National WIC Association Breastfeeding Committee, a USLCA member! As a member, Carole attended the USLCA Conference in St Louis in 2012. She recalls that it was during that conference that she began to see clearly that there were widening gaps in lactation care in this country. Her work with WIC began in 1989, and in recent years has included her instrumental guidance in creating documents such as the latest publication of NWA, “Enhancing Breastfeeding Support in WIC: The Case for Increasing the Number of International Board-Certified Lactation Consultants”
Carole’s impressive background as an IBCLC and her dedication to the field are truly inspirational. When asked what she would say to a new USLCA member or new IBCLC about the path they have chosen, she offered this: “Mothers need us! The birth interventions, lack of support and constant undermining of breastfeeding in our society reduces even the most motivated mother’s ability to reach her breastfeeding goal. This field is new and many times frustrating due to the overwhelming lack of support of breastfeeding. However, the rewards can be overwhelming when each mother meets HER goal to provide the best for her baby. What greater gift?”
One of Carole’s trademark characteristics is her visionary perspective. When she sees a need, she envisions not just a solution that helps to solve an issue right now, but a package of solutions that will improve the future situation. For example, Carole describes observing the emerging role of the WIC Peer Counselor: “I also realized that when WIC provided funds to sponsor Peer Counselors, there was a missing link. Peer Counselors are absolutely essential. However, they need the support of IBCLCs to provide clinical support for them as well as mothers.” Carole saw a need to provide an enhanced level of care to mothers and looked beyond that need to recognize that the Peer Counselors themselves needed additional support to grow and nurture their own efforts toward becoming IBCLCs. She instituted a scholarship program to assist WIC Peer Counselors in pursuing IBCLC certification.
This type of forward thinking and drive to improve the status quo is what keeps Carole motivated to remain actively participating in our field in many roles: as a professional educator training future IBCLCs, a liaison between NWA and the USDA and US Breastfeeding Committee, and as a trainer for the Indiana WIC Program. Carole explains WIC’s role in the national breastfeeding conversation this way: “WIC has been working to provide lactation care for mothers since 1989. Several years ago, NWA began working on the concept that WIC could and should be the “go-to place for breastfeeding.” WIC serves 53% of the moms and babies in the US and is available in many areas where no lactation care exists. If we look at the lack of breastfeeding support as the “first food desert,” then having WIC provide “full service” breastfeeding care for mothers is a logical solution.” Setting national standards seems to be all in a day’s work for USLCA member Carole Peterson, and we are so glad she is helping us make a difference!
USLCA is proud to highlight the great work being done by our members throughout the country. If you know of a member doing great work in your area, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and your story may be listed in an upcoming eNews!