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Do Pharmacists Really Need to Know About Lactation? Yes, and Here’s Why

Your Last-Minute Guide to Recertifying By CERPs
Your Last-Minute Guide to Recertifying By CERPs
Pharmacy students study hard in their education programs. By graduation, they’ve mastered a wide range of gritty scientific details and topics that leave lay people shaking their heads – but grateful that the person providing their medication knows the facts!
However, one important topic is conspicuously underrepresented, filling just one lecture in most pharmacy programs. The topic? Human lactation.
Fortunately, there are effective, accessible ways to add to your lactation education. If you’re a pharmacist, expanding your knowledge of human milk and breastfeeding/chestfeeding is one of the best career choices you can make. Here are three reasons why.
Reason #1: You serve many lactating people — whether you realize it or not. How many of the people you counsel are lactating? Most likely, it’s more than you think. An estimated 96% of parents who breastfeed/chestfeed their children use one or more medications during their lactation experience, from pain medication following delivery to treating sore nipples and low milk supply.
And while we often associate lactation with the early days postpartum, a parent who goes on to feed their baby their milk for months or years will encounter all the things everyone else does — headaches, minor illnesses, the need for surgery or other medical procedures.
Becoming a trusted source of evidence-based counsel on prescription and OTC medications during lactation can make you an invaluable asset to a very large subset of the population.
Reason #2: You have a chance to be a hero. You’ve probably heard the phrase “pump and dump” used to refer to the advice frequently given to a lactating parent who must take medication. In the absence of the lactation knowledge to assess a medication’s compatibility with lactation, well meaning providers often see advising a parent not to feed their milk as the “better safe than sorry” choice … when it is actually anything but.
The critical importance of lactation and human milk in health outcomes for both parents and babies is no longer up for debate.
And here is the crucial part: Even brief disruptions to breastfeeding/chestfeeding can have detrimental effects on both health and on lactation outcomes. We now know that any amount of breastmilk substitute given in the early days causes long term negative consequences for an infant’s microbiome. Disruption to feeding can also cause issues with milk supply and latching.
It’s not uncommon for lactation consultants to hear this story from a parent: “I had to take medication, and I was told I couldn’t feed my baby my milk. I ended up weaning. Later, I found out that nursing on that medication would have been perfectly safe. I am really sad and disappointed that I was given wrong information that ended our nursing relationship.”
Here’s the reality: Most medications are compatible with lactation. For those that aren’t, there are almost always safe alternatives.
As a pharmacist knowledgeable about lactation, you will not be the reason someone lives with an unnecessary weaning story -– you will be the reason they safely and successfully continued on their nursing journey, supported by you! Trust us, that makes you a hero in a very important story.
Reason #3: Lactation training could be the career spark you’re longing for. Many pharmacists have found that adding lactation training to their resume opened doors they never expected. From expanding opportunities and creating a niche within your current field, all the way to becoming a lactation consultant yourself, delving into lactation education makes you a part of one of the most interesting, engaging, rewarding healthcare professions there is. It’s a fantastic team, and you would make a great addition to it!
Ready to learn more? 
Lactation Education Resources has courses designed just for you, many of which are eligible for continuing education credits. Find our bundle designed specifically for pharmacists here.
We also have everything you need to become a certified lactation consultant.
Questions? Reach out. 
Let our expert, friendly staff help you plan a lactation education pathway and goals that are just right for you. Contact us any time.

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