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Lactation Consultant

Occupational Description

Lactation consultants are allied health care professionals with specialized knowledge and clinical expertise in breastfeeding and human lactation.

Job Description

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 breastfeeding families.

Employment Characteristics

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, public health clinics, maternal and child health services, community settings, and in private practice.  

Educational Programs

Length: Programs range from 1 to 4 years, depending on the program design, prerequisites, and student qualifications. They grant a certificate/diploma, or associate or higher degree. Certificate programs require that applicants have completed all general health science course requirements.


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. In the United States, IBCLCs may also use the designation Registered Lactation Consultant (RLC) in conjunction with the IBCLC. Candidates for all three pathways to qualifying to take the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE) exam must 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. Pathway 2, the postsecondary academic pathway, requires that the program be accredited by CAAHEP or a similar accrediting agency.


International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners
10301 Democracy Lane, Suite 400
Fairfax, VA 22030
Phone: 703-560-7330


International Lactation Consultant Association 
110 Horizon Drive, Suite 210
Raleigh, NC 27615919-861-5577