How to become a lactation consultant

International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC®) is the certification granted by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners.  It requires continuing education and repeated testing to maintain the IBCLC credential.  An IBCLC usually has another health care degree in an area such as nursing, medicine, or dietetics.  IBCLCs  are trained to provide specialized breastfeeding support and clinical lactation management.  For certification information, visit the following site: https://iblce.org/step-1-prepare-for-ibclc-certification/.

Certified Lactation Educator™ (CLE®) is granted by CAPPA after completion of five days of classroom instruction, written coursework, and community observation. The certificate is a statement of education and does not require continuing education to maintain certification.  A CLE can provide basic breastfeeding education and support. For course information visit the following site: http://www.cappa.net/lactation-educator.

Certified Lactation Counselor® (CLC®) is granted by the Center for Breastfeeding Education after completion of a five-day training that provides comprehensive breastfeeding management with a strong focus on counseling skills. A CLC can provide basic breastfeeding education and support. For more information visit the following site: http://www.healthychildren.cc/.

Certified Lactation Specialist Course (CLSC®) is a five-day course along with a test designed for health professionals who want to improve their skills in working with breastfeeding moms and their babies.  This certification is a stepping-stone to the IBCLC credential and exam.  All areas of the IBCLC exam are covered in this course.  This certification is valid for five years.  For more information visit the following site: http://lactationeducationconsultants.com/course_clsc.shtml.

Certified Breastfeeding Educator™ (CBE™) is granted by Lactation Consultant Services™ in Oklahoma after attendance and participation in the Breastfeeding Educator Program™, attendance for three days of didactic instruction, participation in small group activities during the Breastfeeding Educator Program, clinical role-playing, and an exam. The certification is in effect for five years and a one-day update is required for recertification.  A CBE can provide basic breastfeeding education and support. For course information visit the following site: http://lactation-consultant-services.webstarts.com/program_overview.html.

How To Become Certified in Lactation Consultancy

The International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners provides three pathways to certification, but if you already have your SLP certification you will want to choose Pathway 1, the pathway for recognized health professionals.

  1. Education. You need 90 hours of lactation specific education. This must be completed within the 5 years immediately prior to applying for the IBCLC exam.
  2. Practicum. During the 5 years prior to the exam you need to accumulate 1000 hours of lactation specific clinical practice. These hours can be obtained in any of the following supervised settings:
    • Hospital
    • Birth Center
    • Community Clinic
    • Private Lactation Clinic
    • An IBLCE Recognized Breastfeeding Support Counselor Organization
    • Licensed health care professionals approved to work independently within your scope of practice can also be approved to get credit for hours outside of the above mentioned settings.

If you are unable to obtain the required hours as stated above, you can also consider these additional pathways:

    • Pathway 2: Attend and graduate from and IBLCE verified academic program. This program must include a minimum of 300 hours of supervised experience. Your chosen program must include a minimum of one course in each of the following areas:
      • Biology
      • Human Anatomy
      • Human Physiology
      • Infant and Child Growth and Development
      • Introduction to Clinical Research
      • Nutrition
      • Psychology or Counseling Skills or Communication Skills
      • Sociology or Cultural Sensitivity or Cultural Anthropology
      • Basic Life Support
      • Medical Documentation
      • Medical Terminology
      • Occupational Safety and Security for Health Professionals
      • Professional Ethics for Health Professionals
      • Universal Safety Precautions and Infection Control
    • Pathway 3: Complete 500 hours of lactation specific clinical experience under the direct supervision of an IBCLC. The Board of Examiners must verify these plans before you begin in order for the hours to count. This pathway includes three phases:
      1. Observing the mentor IBCLC at work
      2. Clinical practice experience with the IBCLC mentor in the room, providing assistance as necessary.
      3. Independent practice with the IBCLC physically nearby (phone supervision unacceptable) and available to assist if needed.
  1. Exam. You can choose to take the exam in April or October. This is a computer-based test, but it must be taken at an approved testing site. It’s important to apply early, or you may not find seats available at the testing sites closest to you.
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Because this exam is offered by an international board, the exam fees are adjusted based on the purchasing power parity of each country. To see the fee schedule for the current year, as well as upcoming exam dates, you can check out the IBLCE’s Certification & Key Dates page.

In order to apply for the exam, you will need to create an account on the iblce.org page and login. From there, the site will guide you to the application.

CAPPA Standards

CAPPA Lactation Educators work within CAPPA’s standards of practice to uphold the following (available to read as individual documents): code of conduct, a grievance policy, mission statement, vision statement, organization philosophy, and social media policy. CAPPA Lactation educators use current evidence based information in their practice. They maintain their knowledge and skills through continuing education. They work within the legal framework of their individual community and region.

CAPPA Certified Lactation Educators™:

  • Offer non-biased focused information, support, encouragement, guidance, referrals, and education to their communities, which includes families and professionals
  • Provide culturally sensitive and adult based education
  • Refer to healthcare professionals when support requires clinical assessment, need for prescription, or medical diagnosis
  • Help families understand their rights according to current healthcare policy and legal statues
  • Advise parents on how to maintain lactation when they are separated from their infant, which includes information on hand expression and the usage of breast pumps
  • Offer continual support for families during the weaning process and beyond as it pertains to breastfeeding
  • Educate, support and offer referrals to mothers who need to supplement or find that breastfeeding must be halted due to medical and/or personal reasons

The CAPPA Lactation Educator is not a clinician and therefore does not:

  • Take a medical history or take medical notes on their clients.
  • Provide clinical written histories to healthcare workers (as they do not take clinical notes)
  • Give clinical assessment of the mother’s breasts, the baby’s mouth, or the dyad’s dysfunctional latch
  • Use pre and post lacteal weight checks for assessment
  • Prescribe the use of medical devices including but not limited to nipple shields, supplemental nursing systems, and topical ointments

Course Requirements

  • 2 years to complete your course from the date of your CAPPA in-person training class.
  • CAPPA certification candidates must be at least 18 years of age. No person under 18 years of age may attend CAPPA training classes.
  • Be a member of CAPPA.
  • Enroll in the Lactation Educator Traditional Course in CAPPA Academy.
  • Attend a 20-hour CAPPA Lactation Educator training class.
  • Read the CAPPA Lactation Educator training manual and the required books from the CAPPA required reading list.
  • Document attendance of two La Leche League, Nursing Mother’s Council or local breastfeeding support meetings.
  • Attend a breastfeeding consultation as an observer/volunteer with an IBCLC or CLC for a minimum of 4 hours. Details/forms are provided within CAPPA Academy.
  • Order, read, and complete all online content, including videos, from the Understanding Breastfeeding Book, available in the CAPPA shop. Details/forms are provided within CAPPA Academy.
  • Review three current research studies. Details/forms are provided within CAPPA Academy.
  • Create a resource list with information on local support for parents. A guide for creating this list is included within CAPPA Academy.
  • Submit a one-hour video of yourself teaching. Details/forms are provided within CAPPA Academy.
  • Submit two letters of recommendation.
  • In order for candidates to be eligible for CAPPA certification they must sign and agree to the following forms: Code of Conduct and Social Media Policy, Grievance Policy, Mission Statement, CAPPA Approach / Philosophy Statement, Vision Statement, and Scope of Practice.
  • Pass the multiple choice exam and essays in CAPPA Academy. An 85% passing grade is required.
  • Complete the Scope of Practice Intensive Review and pass the Scope of Practice Quiz.
  • Please view all of CAPPA’s Policies and Procedures.
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Course Requirements

  • 2 years to complete your course once you enroll.
  • CAPPA certification candidates must be at least 18 years of age.
  • Be a member of CAPPA.
  • Enroll in the Online Distance Learning Course.
  • Read the CAPPA Lactation Educator training manual and the required books from the CAPPA required reading list.
  • Document attendance of two La Leche League, Nursing Mother’s Council or local breastfeeding support meetings.
  • Submit class outline and curriculum, including all handouts.
  • Submit two letters of recommendation.
  • Attend a breastfeeding consultation as an observer/volunteer with an IBCLC or CLC for a minimum of 4 hours. Details/forms are provided within CAPPA Academy.
  • Order, read, and complete all online content, including videos, from the Understanding Breastfeeding Book, available in the CAPPA shop. Details/forms are provided within CAPPA Academy.
  • Review two current research studies. Details/forms are provided within CAPPA Academy.
  • Create a resource list with information on local support for parents. A guide for creating this list is included within CAPPA Academy.
  • Submit a one-hour video of yourself teaching. Details/forms are provided within CAPPA Academy.
  • In order for candidates to be eligible for CAPPA certification they must sign and agree to the following forms: Code of Conduct and Social Media Policy, Grievance Policy, Mission Statement, CAPPA Approach / Philosophy Statement, Vision Statement, and Scope of Practice.
  • Pass the multiple choice exam and essays in CAPPA Academy. An 85% passing grade is required.
  • Complete the Scope of Practice Intensive Review and pass the Scope of Practice Quiz.
  • Please view all of CAPPA’s Policies and Procedures.

Course Requirements

  • 2 years to complete your course from the date of your CAPPA in-person training class.
  • CAPPA certification candidates must be at least 18 years of age. No person under 18 years of age may attend CAPPA training classes.
  • Be a member of CAPPA.
  • Enroll in the Lactation Educator Accelerated Course in CAPPA Academy.
  • Attend a 20-hour CAPPA Lactation Educator training class.
  • Read the CAPPA Lactation Educator training manual and the required books from the CAPPA required reading list.
  • Submit a 15 minute video of yourself teaching or student teach with an approved mentor for a 15 minute class. Details/forms are provided within CAPPA Academy.
  • Create a local breastfeeding resource guide.
  • In order for candidates to be eligible for CAPPA certification they must sign and agree to the following forms: Code of Conduct and Social Media Policy, Grievance Policy, Mission Statement, CAPPA Approach /Philosophy Statement, Vision Statement, and Scope of Practice.
  • Pass the multiple choice exam and essays in CAPPA Academy. An 85% passing grade is required.
  • Complete the Scope of Practice Intensive Review and pass the Scope of Practice Quiz.
  • Please view all of CAPPA’s Policies and Procedures.

The purpose of the CAPPA community lactation educator program is to provide childbirth professionals comprehensive training in breastfeeding education. When a candidate completes the certification program they will be qualified to teach, support, and educate the public on breastfeeding and related issues. When all requirements have been satisfactorily completed, candidates will be issued the CAPPA credential, Certified Community Lactation Educator, LE(C).

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This program is distinct and separate from the CLE® program. While both the LE(C) and the CLE® provide families with support and education, the LE(C) is not qualified to lead group classes or facilitate a breastfeeding class. They are trained breastfeeding professionals that offer breastfeeding support and education. The LE(C) also does not offer medical advice or provide lactation consulting or breastfeeding assessment. The LE(C) does receive extensive training in proper referral for families needing breastfeeding intervention.

Course Requirements

  • 2 years to complete your course from the date of your CAPPA in-person training class.
  • CAPPA certification candidates must be at least 18 years of age. No person under 18 years of age may attend CAPPA training classes.
  • Be a member of CAPPA.
  • Enroll in the Community Lactation Educator Traditional Course in CAPPA Academy.
  • Attend a 2 Day CAPPA Community Lactation Educator training class or a 20 Hour CAPPA Lactation Educator training class.
  • Read the CAPPA Community Lactation Educator training manual and the required books from the CAPPA required reading list.
  • Order, read, and complete all online content, including videos, from the Understanding Breastfeeding Book, available in the CAPPA shop. Details/forms are provided within CAPPA Academy.
  • Document attendance of two La Leche League, Nursing Mother’s Council or local breastfeeding support meetings.
  • Create a resource list with information on local support for parents. A guide for creating this list is included within CAPPA Academy.
  • Write a one-page personal essay on why you want to be a Certified Community Lactation Educator.
  • Submit two letters of recommendation.
  • In order for candidates to be eligible for CAPPA certification they must sign and agree to the following forms: Code of Conduct and Social Media Policy, Grievance Policy, Mission Statement, CAPPA Approach / Philosophy Statement, Vision Statement, and Scope of Practice.
  • Pass the multiple choice exam and essays in CAPPA Academy. An 85% passing grade is required.
  • Complete the Scope of Practice Intensive Review and pass the Scope of Practice Quiz.
  • Please view all of CAPPA’s Policies and Procedures.

Is your hospital, WIC department, or governmental agency in need of CAPPA Certified Lactation Educators™? CAPPA faculty can come to your location and train your staff or community members to become CAPPA Certified Lactation Educators™.

The 20-hour CLE® training program is designed to train and certify professionals to work with families from preconception through the stage of weaning offering education, encouragement, counseling, an experienced point of view, and fostering confidence, and a commitment to breastfeeding. Lactation Educators can be found working in a variety of settings to offer their services to families. Families can find them working as public health educators, WIC peer counselors, hospital/community educators, pediatric support professionals, and in private practice as educators.

CAPPA is an international certification organization for Doulas, Childbirth Educators and Lactation Educators. Since our foundation in 1998, we have certified thousands of perinatal professionals. As one of the first and most comprehensive perinatal organizations in the world, CAPPA is respected for its longevity and its commitment to excellence in both education and unsurpassed student and member support. Choosing an organization for your education is an important decision. CAPPA offers stability that you can be confident in as you invest in your education and career.

For more information, email [email protected] or call 770-965-9777.

This course is no longer offered in the State of Georgia (US).

The Senior Program Advisor for the Lactation Educator Program is Kimberly Bepler.

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