A lactation consultant is an allied health professional who specializes in the clinical management of breastfeeding. Lactation consultants commonly work in hospitals, physician or midwife practices, public health programs, and private practice. They are certified through the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE). The lactation consulting profession was founded by a group of passionate and enterprising volunteer La Leche League Leaders who wanted to professionalize the skills they had developed while working with breastfeeding mothers in their communities. The International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA) is the professional association for lactation consultants. Affiliate organizations worldwide can be found through the website directory: ILCA Affiliates. An International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) will have the initials IBCLC and/or RLC after her/his name, as a physician would have MD or DO, or a registered nurse would have RN. IBCLCs can be found in private practice, on staff in hospitals, and in the public health arena.
Pathways to Certification
The organization that gives the certification exam for lactation consultants is the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE), found at: IBLCE. Candidates for the IBLCE boards can choose various pathways to qualify. Currently the candidate preparation pages are under reconstruction.
Pathway 1: Health Care Professionals working in Maternal-Child Health
RNs, RDs, DOs, MDs, PTs, etc.
Comprehensive Lactation Consultant Training Course of a minimum of 90 hours within 5 years of sitting the exam 1000 hours of clinical experience (usually obtained in your employment) Education in biology, anatomy & physiology, nutrition, counseling or psychology, infant & child growth and development, introduction to research and sociology or cultural sensitivity (may be covered in basic professional education).
Pathway 2: College or university academic program
Education in anatomy & physiology, nutrition, counseling or psychology, infant & child growth and development, medical terminology, and sociology or cultural sensitivity (may be covered in this education). Clinical experience also covered in this education.
Pathway 3: No previous education or experience required
Step 1: Structured Lactation Consultant Training Course of 90 hours within 5 years of sitting the exam.
Step 2: Education in anatomy & physiology, nutrition, counseling or psychology, infant & child growth and development, medical terminology, and sociology or cultural sensitivity.
Step 3: Continuing education classes in:
- Basic life support (e.g. CPR) (available from your local hospital, fire department or training facility)
- Medical terminology
- Medical documentation
- Occupational safety and security for health professionals
- Professional ethics for health professionals
- Universal safety precautions and infection control
Step 4: 500 hours of supervised clinical experience in a formal internship program can be completed with a re-certified lactation consultant in your home area. For information about the Pathway 3 internship, go to: IBLCE Continuing Education Review / Application Information.
- International Lactation Consultant Association
- International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners
- United States Lactation Consultant Association
To find a listing of approved Lactation Consultant Courses go to: http://www.leaarc.org/download/LEAARC_ApprovedCourses.pdf To find national or multinational affiliates of ILCA go to: www.ilca.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3370 To confirm IBCLE certification go to: http://iblce.org/resources/iblce-registry/
- What is an IBCLC?
- Countryman, Betty Ann. "BA, RN, MN". Leaven. La Leche League International. Retrieved 20 October 2013.