Health-care providers with the International Board Certified Lactation Consultant designation (IBCLC) are called (international) board certified lactation consultants. This is sometimes shortened to lactation consultant, but this term is generic and can be used by anyone.
Board certified lactation consultants have special training in breastfeeding and have passed an examination run by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners, an independent global authority that sets the standards for knowledge of practitioners in lactation and breastfeeding care.
There are several pathways to certification. For example, one pathway requires that candidates meet each of the following criteria:
- Have 90 hours of lactation-specific education, and;
- Have college-level health science courses or are recognized health-care providers such as nurses, and;
- Have up to 1000 hours of caring for breastfeeding families.
Board certified lactation consultants must re-certify regularly and engage in continuing education in order to keep their designation.
They may work in various settings:
- Healthcare institutions
- Publicly funded health clinics
- Doctors’ offices
- Independently in their own clinics
They may join international member associations such as the International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA), the European Lactation Consultants Alliance (ELACTA), or national ones such as the Canadian Lactation Consultant Association (CLCA).
Most studies have found that mothers who use a lactation consultant are more likely to breastfeed exclusively and longer (Chetwynd 2019; Gray 2020; McFadden 2017).