Are you a breastfeeding advocate and is thinking of pursuing a career in this field? Or are you a mom having trouble with your breastfeeding journey and needs professional help? Read on as we will be discussing what lactation consultant certification is all about – how to be one and how to get one.
We keep seeing it, everybody knows about it – breastmilk is the best for babies. No formula milk, vitamins or supplements could ever replace or outdo what a mother’s milk can give. No wonder why a lot of moms especially in today’s generation would do anything just to be able to produce breastmilk for their babies.
While there are moms who need professional help, there are other moms, moms-to-be or simply breastfeeding advocates who aim to help mothers in their breastfeeding journey by pursuing and passing the lactation consultant certification.
What is a lactation consultant?
According to the Academy of Lactation Policy and Practice, Inc., a “not-for-profit organization that provides a national certification program in breastfeeding and human lactation,” a lactation consultant is someone who is “dedicated to the promotion, protection, and support of breastfeeding and human lactation in their work to prevent and solve breastfeeding problems”.
They are the people who understand fully what breastfeeding is all about, and how it helps in raising a healthy child – eventually, a healthy society.
A lactation consultant does not necessarily have to have a medical background like physicians, nurses or midwives. He or she may come from a variety of educational attainment and employment. He or she could be a dietitian, doula, peer counselors, educators, social workers, public administrators, public health workers, or nutritionist to name a few.
In order for one to be called a lactation consultant, he or she has to earn first the lactation consultant certification.
What is a lactation consultant certification?
The lactation consultant certification is a certification given by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE) to any individual who has met and passed the lactation consultant certification requirements.
How to be a lactation consultant?
In order for one to get through the lactation consultant certification, he or she has to have the following requirements:
- Educational Requirements. There are three ways to meet the required educational background for the lactation consultant certification. These are:
- Acquire Health Sciences Education Program. According to IBLCE’s Health Sciences Education Guide, in order for one to be considered for lactation consultant certification, the person has to have at least taken the 14 subjects that are related to health sciences – it includes biology, anatomy, nutrition, as well as psychology to name a few.
For those who have health sciences backgrounds like registered nurses and other health professionals recognized by the IBLCE, all you have to do is submit copies of your registration, transcript of records, degree, and license to the IBLCE along with other required application materials.
For those who are not health professionals. The best way to meet the educational requirement for the lactation consultant certification is to enroll in a nursing program. Otherwise, you have to complete any of the following college and continuing education courses:
– Human Anatomy
– Infant and Child Growth and Development
– Sociology or Cultural Sensitivity
– Counseling or Communication Skills
– Occupational Safety and Security for Health Professionals
– Universal Safety Precautions and Infection Control
You may also opt to become a leader for the La Leche League. La Leche League is a volunteer program for experienced breastfeeding advocates, helping other mothers learn the basics of breastfeeding.
- Experience in Lactation Specific Clinical Experience. Basically pertaining to the individual’s experience in providing lactation aid to pregnant and breastfeeding women, as well as in educating their families. You may get in touch with IBCLE to find a program that is approved by the organization, where you can participate and complete this requirement.
You will need 300 to 1000 hours of Lactation Specific Clinical Experience depending on the specific lactation pathway you choose to pursue. The clinical experience must take place within five years prior to the examination.
- Lactation Specific Education Completion. To be eligible to take the lactation consultant certification one has to complete 90-hour coursework. It covers the different kinds of discipline regarding breastfeeding, as well as lactation consulting.
- Pathway to Certification. There are different pathways for lactation consultant certification. Depending on what suits your requirements, you may opt to:
- Health Professionals. To be eligible to take this pathway, you have to have the following requirements:
– 1000 hours of lactation specific clinical practice. This has to take place within 5 years prior to the examination.
– 90 hours of lactation specific education. This has to take place also within 5 years prior to the examination.
- Non-Health Professionals. If you belong to this group, you may opt to enroll in accredited programs to complete your Health Sciences Education coursework requirement. To graduate from an academic program related to human lactation and breastfeeding, you have to pass the following requirements:
– 300 hours of supervised lactation specific clinical practice
– 90 hours of lactation specific education. This has to be completed within 5 years prior to your examination.
- Take and Pass the Lactation Consultant Certification. Once you have completed all the aforementioned requirements, you become qualified to take the Lactation Consultant Certification examination. All you have to do is follow the below instructions:
- Completely sign the IBLCE application form
- Pat the application fee ranging from $255 to $660 (amount depends on the country you live in)
- Schedule an examination date (Note: The exam is given once a year only. Usually in July of every year. Make sure you know when the deadline for application is, but normally it happens during fall of the previous year.)
- Show up and take the test on your scheduled date, and pass it!
How to choose a lactation consultant?
For moms who want to get some help from a lactation consultant, you may follow the below guide in choosing the right lactation consultant for you.
- Choose a certified lactation consultant. If you are getting a lactation consultant on a one-on-one basis, make sure that you do your own research about the person, you do a background check. Otherwise, make sure to ask recommendation from institutions like in childbirth clinics, doctor’s clinics, or you may check La Leche League.
It is important to hire someone who has a lactation consultant certification to ensure that the information, counseling, and guidance that you are getting has a scientific basis and are proven.
- Choose based on the person’s years of experience and expertise. Not to be biased, but this goes more to those who have serious breastfeeding dilemmas. It is better to hire someone who has been doing it for years because most likely, they have already gained the right knowledge and expertise according to your needs.
- Choose the one that you can trust and are most comfortable with. To be successful in your breastfeeding journey, you have to have someone who you can trust and someone whose expertise and passion for breastfeeding and lactation is superb. Comfortability with your lactation consultant is important as you can tackle from simplest to extremes of topics regarding breastfeeding and lactation.
- Ask for your friends’ recommendation. Nothing beats having someone’s recommendation. Because that means, the person is already tried and tested. For someone to recommend someone, it means they are satisfied and have had a great relationship with their lactation consultant.
In conclusion, whether you are someone seeking a lactation consultant certification, or simple a breastfeeding advocate, or a mom seeking for a lactation consultant’s help – you all have one thing in common, you believe that breastfeeding is the best for babies, and that breastfeeding is worth it.