IBCLC Certification: Why You Should Consider Becoming and IBCLC

Jan 27, 2024

If you’ve been working in the setting of maternal-child health for any length of time, I’m sure that breastfeeding education, assistance and support is a big part of what you do.   That’s not surprising since over 80% of women in the US initiate breastfeeding in the first days of life.   If you work a 12-hour day in a hospital, you’ll likely see at least two or three feedings per patient per day – that’s a lot of breastfeeding support!   Your experience in this area is a good foundation for your ability to obtain the International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) certification.

What is an IBCLC?

An IBCLC is a member of the maternal-child health team with specialized skills in breastfeeding management and care.  IBCLCs must pass an in-depth examination in addition to having clinical experience which together demonstrate the ability to provide knowledgeable, comprehensive care to breastfeeding families. This exam is given twice per year by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE).  IBCLCs are required to keep their skills current, and must recertify every five years through continuing education or re-examination.  In addition, they must adhere to the IBCLC Scope of Practice which was developed by the IBLCE.

How does IBCLC certification help you?

Certification has been shown to:

  • Establish professionalism and clinical competence in a specific area

  • Broaden employment opportunities

  • Improve confidence in practice

  • Validate specialized knowledge, experience and clinical judgement

How does IBCLC certification help your patients?

  • Reassures patients of your specific knowledge and expertise in the area of breastfeeding

  • Certification is related to positive patient outcomes:

    • Infants are more likely to be breastfeeding at hospital discharge if the hospital employs an IBCLC

    • Women who receive prenatal education, postpartum hospital visits, home visits, and telephone calls from a lactation consultant, are more likely to breastfeed through week 20

  • Assures the patient that you are staying current through verification and recertification process

  • Provides an avenue for patients to verify certification and/or register complaints through IBLCE.   

Do we need more IBCLCs?

Absolutely!  Currently there are an estimated 36,000 IBCLCs in the world.  The majority of the IBCLCS (17,000) are in the US, with many countries having only 1!  Even in the US there are some states which have fewer than 100 IBCLCs for the entire state.  And our profession is in great need of diversification, not only in race but in age and gender as well.  There are many opportunities for IBCLCs to make a difference in the lives of new families across the country.

What is the process?

  • Start by visiting the IBLCE website:

    o   https://ibclc-commission.org/how-to-become-an-ibclc/

  • Have proof of specific lactation education

  • Complete one of three pathways to obtain the required Clinical Practice hours

  • Commit to a Code of Professional Conduct

  • Take the IBCLC examination

If you’re ready to start-

 Click on this link for the Candidate Information Guide:

o   https://ibclc-commission.org/ibclc-information/candidate-information-guide/

The best way to support breastfeeding families is to improve access to available care throughout their breastfeeding journey.   If you have an interest in providing this kind of support, think about becoming an IBCLC.   If you’re already an IBCLC, please pass this on to someone who you think would be a good candidate, and consider mentoring that person through the process.   Let’s be sure that breastfeeding support continues to be available to families for years to come!

Subscribe to our Blog

Join our mailing list to receive the latest blog posts, courses and updates from our team.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.