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Any certified lactation consultants out there?

(4 Posts)
radiatormesh Wed 05-Feb-14 15:31:04

Has anyone been through this process? I've been casually looking at the International Board of Lactation Consultants to see what the requirements are to get certified and am thoroughly confused...

I'm not medically trained/educated so I'd need to study all the science side of things, but I've no idea where/how to do this. I have two little ones, and we're planning a third so home-based/online study is what I need.

Can anyone explain the process??


Tambajam Wed 05-Feb-14 16:31:34

Hi Radiatormesh

I'm an IBCLC. It is quite a complicated process which unfortunately is made slightly more complicated by the fact the science courses required for those with a non-medical background are not provided by many people!
Health e-learning is quite a good place to start for online study but there aren't many options yet developed. That requirement has only been in place for the last 3 years or so.

The whole process is not cheap - everything from exam fees to the study. It's also really important to mention that employment for IBCLCs from non-medical backgrounds is out there but not overwhelming. You have to pay for on-going training and recertify every 5 years and that costs money too. Those in private practice struggle to make an income, hospital positions usually go to medically trained and community work rarely requires an IBCLC qualification. I love my job but I want to be honest about that. I think people who stick at being a voluntary BFC with one of the charities can also gain an enormous amount and may not be much worse off financially!

What usually takes longer than the science courses is building up your directly supervised hours of breastfeeding support. Depending on your pathway, it's anywhere between 500-1000 hours. If you are an active breastfeeding counsellor and volunteering at groups, that could still take you 4 years or so just to build up the hours.

Then you need 90 hours of lactation specific education on top of the science courses. This is true for all pathways.

I'm guessing you've already read about the pathways on the site.

I'm also going to guess you are already a La Leche League leader, NCT or ABM breastfeeding counsellor or BfN breastfeeding supporter. That training can be your lactation specific education. If not, that's probably a good place to start. You could do that training alongside the science courses and also have a good sense of whether this is something you really want to do as the overlap between being an IBCLC and a BFC is fairly great. Not all of the charities are hugely enthusiastic about training someone who has a clear professional goal so you need to look into this carefully and you would need to do a voluntary commitment in all cases. It's about the only way to build up the hours though as not many breastfeeding support groups will allow you to support in a group without a qualification. You can build up hours in hospitals too but they usually prefer volunteers to be a trained BFC or peer supporter.

So in summary:
1000 hours of breastfeeding support under supervision
90 hours of lactation specific education (they prefer 120 hours+)
2 years of scientific courses at tertiary level

and then you are eligible to take the exam (with references from people who know you as a breastfeeding supporter and have observed your work with mothers). The exam itself is 6 hours and only passing that gets you status as a certified lactation consultant.

Have a look at the site. You can contact LCs who live locally to you perhaps and do some shadowing and ask them about their training.

radiatormesh Wed 05-Feb-14 17:05:30

Wow thank you! That's really useful information. It sounds like a huge commitment: had suspected as much from the website.

I'm already a La Leche leader (or will be once we return to the UK-currently away for a while with DH's work). I think I'd like to help in the community rather than in hospitals, so it sounds like sticking at this level would be the cheapest/less intense way of doing so.

I'll take a look at the educational provider and see what they offer too: cost may well be the deciding factor I think.

Thanks again.

Tambajam Wed 05-Feb-14 19:07:21

I think it's a great idea to complete as a LLLL and then see how you get on. You could always record your support hours as an LLLL so you have the option to go for IBCLC in the future and record on-going training carefully. I have a friend who was a LLLL and passed her LC exam the same year as me and prefers her LLLL role. LCs often get quite a lot of technical and medical issues and sometimes the nicest stuff is just about counselling a mum to reach her individual goals and coming up with joint solutions. Sometimes when a family makes LC contact there is an expectation you will be the person with 'the answers' because you are 'the professional'. Truthfully, a lot of the best breastfeeding support is helping families to come up with their own answers. I spend a lot of time encouraging people to not think of me as 'the expert' but part of their conversation and thinking.

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