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. The association has affiliate organizations worldwide. An International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) may use the post nominals IBCLC and/or RLC after her/his name, as a physician would have MD or DO, or a registered nurse would have RN.
Pathways to Certification
The organization that gives the certification exam for lactation consultants is the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE). Candidates for the IBLCE boards can choose various pathways to qualify.
Pathway 1: Health Care Professionals working in Maternal-Child Health or Volunteers in Recognized Peer Support Breastfeeding Organizations
RNs, RDs, DOs, MDs, PTs, La Leche League Leaders 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: Mentoring
Step 1: 90 hours of lactation specific education within 5 years of sitting the exam.
Step 2: College level 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 and IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) in your home area.
- What is an IBCLC?
- International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE)
- Countryman, Betty Ann. "BA, RN, MN". Leaven. La Leche League International. Retrieved 20 October 2013.
- ILCA Affiliates
- IBLCE Continuing Education Review / Application Information