If you had a toothache, you would seek the care and advice of someone who is an expert on teeth, your dentist; if you were concerned about your heart, you’d find the most qualified, expert cardiologist. An IBCLC is an expert on breastfeeding. By finding one as you begin breastfeeding, you equip yourself with the very best support available.
— Amber McCann IBCLC

What is an IBCLC?

Good question!  An  International Board Certified Lactation Consultant® (IBCLC®) is a member of the maternal-child healthcare team with specialised skills in breastfeeding care and management. The IBCLC credential is the highest certification and the only internationally recognised credential in the field of lactation. Research has shown improved breastfeeding outcomes when mothers and infants receive the services of IBCLCs. Read more about the role of the IBCLC here


What  background does an IBCLC possess?

Since 2012, anyone wishing to become an IBCLC must demonstrate:

  1. Completion of tertiary level education in the following health science subjects:

  • Biology

  • Human Anatomy

  • Human Physiology

  • Infant & Child Growth and Development

  • Introduction to Clinical Research

  • Nutrition

  • Psychology or Counselling Skills or Communication Skills

  • Sociology or Cultural Sensitivity or Cultural Anthropology

  • Basic Life Support

  • Medical Documentation

  • Medical Terminology

  • Occupational Safety and Security for Health Professionals

  • Professional Ethics for Health Professionals

  • Universal Safety Precautions and Infection Control

    2.  Achievement of clinical practice hours in lactation and breastfeeding care (a minimum of 1000 hours)

    3.  Completion of education in human lactation and breastfeeding (a minimum of 90 hours)

    4.  Successful passing of the IBLCE certification examination 

    5.  Agreement to abide by the IBLCE recertification policy which requires recertification every five years either by pursuing       continuing education or re-examination, and mandatory re-examination at ten years.

    6.  Agreement to abide by the Code of Professional Conduct for International Board Certified Lactation Consultants and the IBLCE Disciplinary Procedures.


ARe ALL ibclcs the same?

Are all physiotherapists or psychologists the same? Absolutely not.  Just like any other allied healthcare professional, IBCLCs will also have particular areas of strengths and expertise. It is not unusual for an IBCLC to specialise in one or more areas of interest. For example, some IBCLCs may possess additional professional experience and knowledge related to helping mothers with autoimmune disorders. Other IBCLCs may have a particular interest in ankyloglossia (tongue tie) and will have undertaken extra training in the assessment of an infant's oral motor function or may have personal and/or professional experience of breastfeeding and the special needs of preterm babies or multiples. 

It is important to choose a breastfeeding support person that will match the specific needs of you and your baby. Always ask questions. Find out if your IBCLC has experience in dealing with the particular issues or concerns that affect you and your baby. 

Further reading

The Role and Impact of the IBCLC

Frequently Asked Questions About Lactation Consultants in Private Practice

The Who's Who of Breastfeeding Support

Are Lactation Consultants too pricey?