The image that Breastfeeding Counselors project to the general public, and the information they present, always reflects on the organization. To enhance “the reputation of the Breastfeeding USA Counselor program” (as required under the Code of Ethics), BCs should be careful to clearly present only Breastfeeding USA information and positions, while acting as a Breastfeeding Counselor, or on behalf of Breastfeeding USA. If a Breastfeeding Counselor presents opinions or promotes other causes that are not a part of the Breastfeeding USA Statement on Breastfeeding or found in other Breastfeeding USA publications, the public can become confused about the purpose and work of the organization and the reputation of the organization can be diminished.
Breastfeeding USA values having diversity in our Breastfeeding Counselor volunteers, and the organization recognizes that Breastfeeding Counselors may be involved in other organizations and hold a variety of beliefs in many areas. However, Breastfeeding Counselors must not promote any other causes when representing the organization.
Maintaining Volunteer Boundaries
Breastfeeding USA welcomes Breastfeeding Counselors’ volunteer efforts in other organizations, including those providing similar services. Having volunteers working in multiple organizations helps Breastfeeding USA to build collaborative relationships that can further the mission. Breastfeeding Counselors who serve in other organizations must be careful to make it clear when they are representing Breastfeeding USA and when they are representing another organization. When reporting activities, Breastfeeding Counselors should only count contacts made when they are acting as a Breastfeeding USA Counselor and not any contacts made for other organizations. (See here for more information about reporting activities.)
Maintaining Professional Boundaries
Some Breastfeeding Counselors have paid positions or accreditations in which they provide services similar to those they provide for Breastfeeding USA. It is important that Breastfeeding Counselors make it clear when they are representing Breastfeeding USA in a volunteer capacity and when they are working in their paid position. This is to protect the organization’s liability as well as an individual volunteer’s professional liability.
Breastfeeding Counselors may not advertise their professional role while acting as a BC or use their volunteer position to refer parents to themselves in a paid capacity. This includes dispersing marketing materials for their own business to families they are serving as BCs. For example, a BC who is also an IBCLC could not refer a parent to themselves if that parent’s problem advanced beyond the scope of the BC. BCs have a specified scope of information and support they are able to offer according to the training they are provided and the mission of the organization. They must maintain their roles as unpaid volunteers when acting as BCs and only represent Breastfeeding USA in this capacity. BCs should not report contacts made when acting in their paid job, and report only those contacts made as volunteer representatives of Breastfeeding USA.
BCs may mention their BC status while working in their paid, professional roles. For example, if a family has hired a doula that happens to be a BC, that doula may inform a client that they are a BC and are available to offer volunteer counseling services at a later time or invite the family to their local group. In this example, the doula may not represent Breastfeeding USA while offering paid doula services. BC status may be mentioned on professional pages, however it may not be mentioned on pages where there are paid advertisements due to the risk of potential WHO Code violations.
Avoiding Confusion about Other Causes
While Breastfeeding Counselors are free to support any causes and positions, when acting as Breastfeeding USA Counselors they should avoid presentation of these other positions as much as possible. Breastfeeding Counselors must present only Breastfeeding USA information and positions when representing the organization. If meeting discussion ventures into other topic areas, the Breastfeeding Counselor should not promote those other positions. During meetings and counseling sessions, keeping the discussion focused on breastfeeding issues as much as possible avoids the perception that Breastfeeding USA is supporting other causes. When representing Breastfeeding USA, BCs should avoid wearing or carrying items that support other causes (such as political candidate buttons and logo items for other organizations), because these associate BCs, and by extension Breastfeeding USA, with other causes.
Social Media and Other Online Communication
Examples of how to avoid mixing causes when providing support online:
- Personal Facebook, Instagram, and other social media profiles that are used for offering support as a Breastfeeding Counselor should list your real name (first name only is okay for privacy reasons) and not any professional credentials as part of the profile name.
Example: Amie Hood or Amie Lynn but not Amie Hood, IBCLC, OT or Amie Lynn Breastfeeding USA Counselor
It is okay to mention being a BC or other roles in the about-me section of your helping profile
- Emails sent from your Breastfeeding USA address to families that you serve as a BC should only mention your Breastfeeding USA credentials.
- Breastfeeding USA branded social media profiles, Chapter pages, web pages, and newsletters: Only mention your Breastfeeding USA role as a counselor. Advertising other current professional roles could be considered self-promotion and could add confusion about the kind of support BCs can offer.
Use of Organizational Resources
Adopted by the BfUSA Board of Directors December 2021