Lactation consultants are health care professionals with specialized knowledge and clinical expertise in breastfeeding and human lactation.
Lactation consultants educate women, families, health professionals, and the community about breast feeding and human lactation; facilitate the development of policies which protect, promote, and support breastfeeding; act as advocates for breastfeeding as the child-feeding norm; and provide holistic, evidence-based breastfeeding support and care from preconception to weaning for women and their families.
Lactation consultants educate and support parents and families to encourage informed decision-making about infant and child feeding; utilize a pragmatic problem-solving approach, sensitive to the learner’s culture, questions and concerns; provide anticipatory guidance to promote optimal breastfeeding practices and minimize the potential for breastfeeding problems or complications; provide positive feedback and emotional support for continued breastfeeding, especially in difficult or complicated circumstances; and share current evidence-based information and clinical skills in collaboration with other health care professionals. Lactation consultants work in a variety of settings including hospitals, neonatal intensive care units and special care nurseries, lactation clinics, maternal and child health services, and in private practice.
Length: Courses range from 45 contact hours to 4-year degree programs.
Licensure, certification, registration
The International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE) develops and administers the certification examination for lactation consultants. This certification program was accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) upon initial application in 1988 and has been continuously accredited since that time. Certification as an IBCLC is voluntary. Currently, licensure is not required in the lactation consultant profession although it is desired in the USA. In the United States, IBCLCs may also use the designation Registered Lactation Consultant (RLC) in conjunction with the IBCLC. Beginning in 2012, candidates for the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE) exam will be required to complete a minimum of 90 hours of lactation education, as well as specified general education in the health sciences and clinical experience in providing lactation and breastfeeding care.
International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners
6402 Arlington Boulevard, Suite 350
Falls Church, VA 22042
International Lactation Consultant Association
2501 Aerial Center Parkway, Suite 103
Morrisville, NC 27560
Raleigh, North Carolina 27607