WHO ARE WE AND WHAT DO WE DO?
In general, lactation consultants are healthcare professionals who specialize in the clinical management of breastfeeding. They work with mothers to solve breastfeeding problems, provide breastfeeding education and give direction on next steps...all tailored to the individual mother’s situation. Lactation consultants will practice their profession in varied settings such as hospitals, clinics, or a doctor's office. Some lactation consultants are in private practice and may provide consultation at the client’s home or other convenient meeting place. Lactation consultants may also teach classes, administer support groups, interact with other local medical providers to advocate on behalf of lactating mothers, and in general will promote and encourage breastfeeding across the community they serve.
In addition to being clinicians, care givers, educators, and advocates...lactation consultants can serve as counselors to help support the breastfeeding goals of women who are rejoining the workforce or returning to school. Lactation consultants will be familiar with breastfeeding equipment, like breast pumps, and will be able to give breastfeeding tips and tricks, such as how to safely store expressed breast milk for the transition to a more demanding schedule.
For more information about lactation consultant credentials and when it might prove wise to hire the services of a lactation consultant, see the menus below.
An International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) is a healthcare professional who specializes in the clinical management of breastfeeding. An IBCLC is certified by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE). Before a candidate can sit for the IBLCE’s credentialing examination, they must meet minimum requirements in 3 areas of study and experience as outlined in the IBLCE’s Eligibility Criteria.
- Completion of 14 units (e.g. – semester, trimester, quarter) of educational courses, in specified health science subjects, and provided by an accredited institution of higher learning.
- Completion of at least 90 hours of education courses, seminars or other specific study focused on human lactation and breastfeeding.
- Completion of a minimum of 300, and up to 1000 hours in certain scenarios, of lactation specific, clinical practice directly providing care to breastfeeding families.
Upon completion of the above pre-requisites, the IBCLC candidate is required to pass a 4-5 hour, in-person examination. After becoming credentialed, IBCLC’s must adhere to the IBLCE Code of Professional Conduct and are required to keep their knowledge and skills current. Their credentials must be recertified every five years by either continuing education credits, or by performing re-examination. A Lactation Consultant may also use the designation Registered Lactation Consultant (RLC) in conjunction with the IBCLC designation. The RLC designation is more common in hospital settings.
LACTATION COUNSELOR TRAINING COURSE:
A CLC is a Certified Lactation Counselor. The CLC certification means that a person has received training and competency verification in breastfeeding and human lactation support.
A CLC candidate is required to complete a, 5 day, in-person training program approved by the Academy of Lactation Policy and Practice (ALPP). The candidate must complete 6 hours of subject related assignments during the course of training and then pass the CLC Examination. For more detail, see the Lactation Counselor Training Course flyer for Winter-Spring 2017.
A CLE is a Certified Lactation Educator. The CLE certification means that a person has received training to prepare them to effectively communicate many aspects of breastfeeding.
A CLE candidate has the option to take a 2 to 3 day, in person training course or complete an online distance learning course. The CLE candidate must then pass a multiple choice exam with essay that is associated with the training in order to gain their CLE certification. Substantial supplemental activities and preparatory work are required as part of the course requirements. For more detail, see the CAPPA CLE information resource page.
“Families who seek the help of an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) get the gurus of breastfeeding knowledge and support. If you had a toothache, you would seek the care and advice of someone who is an expert on teeth, your dentist; if you were concerned about your heart, you’d find the most qualified expert cardiologist. An IBCLC is an expert on breastfeeding. By finding one as you begin breastfeeding, you equip yourself with the very best support available. A strong support system can significantly help you meet your breastfeeding goals. A good IBCLC can be the key player on your A-Team.”
The quoted article on this topic can be found here: Are Lactation Consultants Too Pricey?
It may be helpful to review the list of common breastfeeding concerns below to determine if you might have an issue that an IBCLC can address. If you/your:
- • ...have pain with latch, during or after breastfeeding
- …left the hospital with a pump or are supplementing with formula
- …left the hospital pumping and baby never latched
- …are using a nipple shield to nurse baby
- …would like to induce lactation after adoption
- …need help with positioning and latch
- …need help increasing your milk supply
- …feel that feedings take "forever"
- …received lots of conflicting advice
- …baby is gaining weight slowly or has had weight loss
- …baby is fussy during feedings or very sleepy
- …breasts are engorged
- …suspect baby has thrush
- …have flat or inverted nipples
- …are experiencing plugged ducts or mastitis
- …baby was premature or special needs
- …have questions before returning to work regarding pumping, breast pumps, and bottles
- …plan to breastfeed after breast surgery, augmentation or reduction
- …are currently or planning to breastfeed multiples
- … have any breastfeeding issues arise that last longer than 24 hours
- …are interested in re-lactating or inducing lactation
- …have questions regarding medication or herbal safety with lactation
- …question or have been told that your baby has a tongue-tie, lip-tie or cleft palate
- …think you have an overabundance of breastmilk
- …are planning to breastfeed, a prenatal consultation will get breastfeeding off to the best start
- …just have breastfeeding questions and would like a full breastfeeding evaluation