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What is an IBCLC?


Our focus this article defines differences between various Lactation-related training certifications, starting with the 'IBCLC'.

Many women see a Lactation Consultant in the hospital (in the first 2-3 days) and if they continue having problems, assume 'there just are no solutions' since issues weren't corrected by consultant in hospital.

You may have heard stories about crying, inconsolable babies, cracked bleeding nipples and/or a fading milk supply. A woman may assume she must wean without ever seeking any help. Or, the help she finds is inadequate to properly assess her specific problem, leaving her continuing to struggle, feeling hopeless about breastfeeding.

For many mothers, breastfeeding does go smoothly - especially after a natural birth. However, because of medical interventions during your labor & birth experience, or baby's position in birth or pressures on baby during labor, or - just the fact you may be the only one in your group of friends or family to breastfeed, some women have trouble nursing in the beginning. An International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) is extensively trained to help moms & babies in both medical or common breastfeeding situations. Moms ask who they can turn to with such a confusing array of “breastfeeding specialists” out there. At Natural Beginnings, we have three board certified IBCLCs with a combined 50 years of experience. We provide a full range of Breastfeeding Services and Prenatal Classes to our new parents. We also have someone available 7 days a week, nights and weekends. Sharon provides Office visits Monday through Friday by appointment only. All consultants are in private practice, and do Home Visits; Diana, one of our Consultants is bi-lingual in both Spanish and English. She also provides a Concierge service to observe several feedings over a 4 to 6 hour period and rents Breast Pumps and Baby Scales. Sharon, in addition to being a skilled Lactation Consultant with over two decades experience, carries a full array of Medela equipment: both breast pumps and scales for rental plus breastfeeding equipment and supplies for mothers. Cleo is expert in guiding moms through those complex lactation issues. She is available 5 days a week for Home Visits and will travels around Dallas and to most of the area surrounding Collin County. All of our Consultants believe that 'client comfort' comes first and we want to help you achieve your own breastfeeding goals.

WHAT DOES HIRING AN IBCLC MEAN TO YOU AS A MOTHER? It means when you contact Sharon, Diana or Cleo, you get a Board Certified Lactation Consultant who is a health care professional, specializing in the clinical management of breastfeeding. An IBCLC has a minimum of 5 years of training, 90 hours of lactation specific education and 24 academic hours in health care education related to human physiology and lactation on top of their existing college degree. They must also have 6 continuing education courses in health care and lactation plus 300-1000 clinical hours just to pass the International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC) exam given by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners®. An IBCLC must have a certain amount of yearly continuing education and must recertify through continuing education every 5 years. An IBCLC focuses on the clinical management of all breastfeeding areas which includes preventative health care, patient education, nutrition counseling, and therapeutic treatment. IBCLCs work in a variety of health care settings, including hospitals, pediatrician’s offices, health care clinics, and private practices.


  • Certified Breastfeeding / Lactation specialist: Designed for aspiring IBCLCs or nurses, physicians, midwives, dieticians and breastfeeding assistants to improve their knowledge and skills when working with breastfeeding mothers. Training time is about 45 hours.

  • Lactation Educator Counselor: A university based program that trains participates to be entry level counselors working with the normal course of breastfeeding. Training time is 45 hours.

  • Breastfeeding Counselor: A 2 - 3 day work shop plus 10 -13 months of self-study guides plus open book exams that help mothers provide breastfeeding awareness in their communities.

  • Breastfeeding Counselor USA (BC): BCs are credited representatives of Breastfeeding USA who participate in community based programs to promote breastfeeding awareness. They are mothers who have breastfed their own baby for at least one year and completed the 9 month self-study program.

  • Breastfeeding Educator: Qualified to teach, support and educate the public on breastfeeding and related issues and policies. Includes reading material, research paper and class presentations, takes 1010 hours to complete.

  • Community Breastfeeding Educator: A 20 hour certification for people who work with pregnant women to encourage them to initiate breastfeeding.

  • Certified Lactation Consultant (CLC): A 45 hours training course with evidence based information that includes some practical skills, theoretical foundations and competency verification. Certification is through the American National Standards Institute.

  • WIC Peer Group Counselor: A 30 – 50 hour program that varies from state to state that trains breastfeeding mothers in basic breastfeeding assistance. They are designed to help mothers of the same race/ethnic group and socioeconomic status.

  • Certified Lactation Educator: A 20 hours program with 8 clinical hours that qualifies the individual to teach, support and educate the public on breastfeeding and related issues.

  • La Leche League Peer Counselor (volunteer): Volunteer community minded mothers who have breastfeed their baby for at least 6 months. Program developed to provide support systems in target communities to provide ongoing access to breastfeeding materials and support. Training time is about 18- 20 hours.

  • La Leche League Leader (volunteer): An experienced breastfeeding mother who is familiar with current breastfeeding research and findings dealing with breastfeeding who offer practical information and encouragement to nursing mothers through monthly meetings and one on one help. Approximately one year of self-study.

IBCLCs are still the gold standard when dealing with breastfeeding problems; they are the leading experts in the field of lactation and breastfeeding care.

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