Steps to Become a Lactation Consultant

How to Become a Lactation Consultant

Breastfeeding is an important part of childcare after a baby is born, especially during the first 6 months. It is because breast milk is the only source of nutrition for newborns. It makes the role of a lactation consultant in a new mother’s lives crucial and necessary. As easy as it seems, breastfeeding is not comfort and glorious. Know how to become a lactation consultant.

Many moms struggle to feed the infant due to various medical and psychological reasons. Certified lactation counselors provide support and guidance to pregnant women and new moms in addressing different problems that arise during nursing infants.

If you love babies and belive this career is for you, then read on to learn what it takes to land the perfect lactation consultant job. This blog will discuss a certified lactation counselor salary, along with lactation consultant training and licensure requirement.

Lactation Consultant

Not everyone can become a lactation consultant in the USA. While it is not typically a doctor’s degree, the candidates must be an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) of the state to pursue the career.

Lactation Counselor Job Overview

A healthy nursing relationship is significant for the child to receive adequate nutrition and the mother to troubleshoot breastfeeding problems. As a licensed lactation consultant, you will make sure the parent &child achieve this relationship.

Your job duties will involve:

  • Guide and inform mothers on different aspects of breastfeeding
  • Help them understand the concept of foremilk and hindmilk
  • Show how a child can get a good latch
  • Educate new moms on the benefits and usage of breast pumps, feeding systems, nipple creams.
  • Help moms achieve the best feeding position
  • Ensure that the baby is receiving adequate nutrition through a regular weight check
  • Provide solutions for additional problems that moms face, such as tongue tie in children
  • You may also take seminars, provide courses, and offer classes to expectant mothers and aspiring lactation consultants
  • You may additionally conduct events to spread awareness on breastfeeding and public nursing

Typically, IBCLCs work in a variety of settings like nursing homes and hospitals in maternity wards, physician offices, government offices, and NGOs or practice the profession independently. You can also find lactation consultant jobs in pediatric offices and midwife centers. The choice is yours. However, clinical exposure and experience will help you grow in your career.

How Much Did Lactation Consultants Make

Certified lactation counselors’ salary is quite good and rewarding, even if they are new in the industry. However, the pay structure varies by the type of job – freelance or full time. You can charge between $100 and $200 per session or hour.

Educational Requirements

The International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE)(1) has lain down the general rules and educational requirements to become International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC).

  • You must prepare intensively to take the IBLCE certification test. An education in health science and lactation and lactation clinical experience is mandatory for gaining eligibility.
  • It would help if you gained a bachelor’s degree in health science, with subjects like biology, human physiology, anatomy, nutrition and science, psychology, sociology, and infant and child development.
  • You must also study additional courses in CPR, medical terminology, professional ethics, medical documentation, and safety precautions.

P.S: If you are already pursuing a medical degree program, you are will be exempted from the above requirements.

Additional Requirements

  • To improve your career prospects, you can further pursue a master’s degree in health science and nutrition or gain a Ph.D. or doctorate in health science.
  • Once you have completed your bachelor’s and master’s studies, you have to take a 90-hour didactic training in lactation from an IBLCE recommended organization.

The three leading organizations that offer lactation consultant training courses are:

  • International Lactation Consultant Association® (ILCA®)
  • The Lactation Education Accreditation and Approval Review Committee (LEAARC)
  • International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners® (IBLCE®)

Clinical Experience

Acquiring clinical experience for your IBLCE certification could be difficult unless you train from one of the above organizations. The training will make it easy for you to take an internship from a recommended hospital or clinic. You must acquire 1000 hours of clinical experience with mothers or 300 supervised hours of clinical practice with nursing moms to attempt the examination.

Becoming an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant

An IBCLC(2) will be beneficial in networking with clients and landing the perfect job. The license guarantees that you have fulfilled the required training and experience considered as a professional lactation counselor. It will invariably boost your credibility.

Some states have mandated the candidates to have a license or registration to practice the profession in the region. In order to take up the IBCLC examination, you must meet with the standards for health science education and lactation education & practice (mentioned in the previous section) set by the IBLCE. You must also abide by their code of professional conduct.

The IBLCE has changed the examination policies and eligibility requirements in June 2019.

It will be effective from March 2020 to January 2022. Look up their website to find out more about the new upgrades. For instance, the organization has removed the flat-rate calculation usage for gaining clinical hours. Additionally, they require candidates to take 5 hours of communication skill training, apart from the 90-hour lactation studies.

The lactation certification is valid for 5 years, so you can renew the certification with continuing education and attaining certain clinical hours. You must also retake the IBLCE examination every 10 years to maintain the license.

The time taken to become a lactation consultant depends upon your educational background. However, if you start early, you can become a professional lactation consultant right after you complete your college degree and certification training, which should take 1 to 2 years.