What is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC)?

The International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) credential identifies a knowledgeable and experienced member of the maternal-child health team who has specialized skills in breastfeeding management and care. IBCLCs have passed a rigorous examination that demonstrates the ability to provide knowledgeable, comprehensive lactation and breastfeeding care. Attainment of the IBCLC credential signifies that the practitioner has demonstrated knowledge to: 

  • work together with mothers to prevent and solve breastfeeding problems
  • collaborate with other members of the health care team to provide comprehensive care that protects, promotes and supports breastfeeding
  • encourage a social environment that supports breastfeeding families
  • educate families, health professionals and policy makers about the far-reaching and long-lasting value of breastfeeding as a global public health imperative.

Among those who become IBCLCs are nurses, midwives, dietitians, physicians and experienced breastfeeding support counselors. IBCLCs work in a variety of settings including hospitals, clinics, physicians’ offices, neonatal intensive care units, human milk banks and private practice.

With a focus on preventive health care, IBCLCs encourage self-care, empowering parents to make their own decisions. IBCLCs use a problem solving approach to provide evidence based information to pregnant and breastfeeding women and make appropriate referrals to other members of the health care team. IBLCE has established professional standards for IBCLCs to follow and abide by. IBCLCs must renew their certification every five years, either through continuing education or by re-examination.

Is it worth the money to hire an IBCLC? 

Yes! Consider this:

  • The average cost of formula in the powdered form is more than $1,200 a year. Concentrated, ready-to-feed, or special hypoallergenic formulas required by some babies, are even more expensive.
  • Research shows that formula-fed babies are much more likely to become ill and require medical care.
  • Mothers who formula feed tend to miss work more often due to an ill baby which  results in lost pay and less employer satisfaction.
  • Most breastfeeding challenges can be resolved with 1 to 2 visits with a lactation consultant. Compare this to the cost of formula for a year, the potentially higher medical costs, possible lost days at work, and the lost benefits of breastfeeding.
  • Most moms say that the simple peace of mind and self-confidence that a lactation consultant provides makes the consults well worth the money!