Q: What is involved in becoming a lactation consultant?
A: There are many different pathways, but the most frequent path is to work with breastfeeding mothers, either as a breastfeeding counselor or through a hospital setting. Candidates must spend between 900 (MD) and 8,000 hours working with breastfeeding mothers in order to meet the criteria for sitting for the exam. The primary pathway requires 2,500 clinical hours plus a bachelor’s degree. Sometimes candidates get their experience through volunteering, or they may work in a hospital or under direct supervision of another IBCLC. Candidates must attend 30 hours of approved breastfeeding education courses. Then they are eligible to sit for a 200 question exam. The exam is given once yearly (the last Monday in July) in many locations all over the world. If they pass, they are entitled to use the credential, IBCLC. Every five years, IBCLCs must be recertified, either through educational hours or by retaking the examination. Every 10 years, they must retake the examination.
By Ann Calandro
BSN, RNC, IBCLC Lactation Consultant