What is an IBCLC and Why Should You Care?
The initials IBCLC can be a bit of tongue twister! If you don’t know what these initials stand for (or why you should even care!), here is a primer to get you up to speed.
What is an IBCLC?
IBCLC stands for “International Board Certified Lactation Consultant”. Over 22,000 health care professionals worldwide carry this designation!
What is the training of an IBCLC?
Although IBCLC’s come from a variety of backgrounds, there are rigorous standards they must meet and maintain.
To become an IBCLC, a candidate must complete:
- 14 health care science courses.
- At least 300 – 1000 practice hours (depending on their professional background) working with breastfeeding moms and babies.
- 90 hours of formal education specific to breastfeeding.
- An international exam, offered one day a year, in 21 languages and in more than 50 countries!
Training doesn’t end there. To maintain this credential, an IBCLC must:
- Have 60 hours of breastfeeding education every 5 years
- Re-write the exam every 10 years.
(Note: IBCLC’s have the option to rewrite the exam every 5 years instead of the education option.)
Why is the IBCLC designation important for families?
An IBCLC has experience and training related to breastfeeding that you can TRUST!
Before your baby is born, an IBCLC can teach you about the importance of breast milk and breastfeeding techniques such as latching and positioning.
Once baby is born, an IBCLC can answer all of your questions and help you with any problems that you may be experiencing such as latching a sleepy baby or sore nipples.
As your breastfeeding journey continues, you may have questions about breastfeeding and returning to work or managing issues with milk supply.
Whatever your needs, knowing your healthcare professional has this designation can be reassuring!
Where can I find an IBCLC?
Some International Board Certified Lactation Consultants are employed in a hospital or community setting. Others are in private practice. Many teach classes on breastfeeding to pregnant women.
Ask your physician, nurse or midwife. They often will know of one in your area.
If you know an IBCLC in your area, let her know she is appreciated!
Photo courtesy of Flickr: Raphael Goetter
Cindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.