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Who’s Who? Different Types of Breastfeeding Support

When breastfeeding issues arise, many mothers find themselves unsure of who to turn to for support and guidance. With the plethora of breastfeeding support credentials, it can be overwhelming for mothers, especially new mothers, to know which credential can help with their particular situation. We have compiled a list of different types of breastfeeding support credentials to help mothers and their breastfeeding supporters understand the experience, training, and education required to earn the particular credential.   

PROFESSIONAL CERTIFICATION

Those who have a professional certification have the foundational education necessary to function as a valued, respected member of the maternal-child health care team. This education includes health education that provides an understanding of whole body systems and how they affection lactation.

International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC)

IBCLCs are recognized as the gold standard credential for professionals who work with breastfeeding mothers. These health care providers specialize in the clinical management of breastfeeding and perform professional comprehensive clinical lactation consultations, assessing difficulties that a mother and baby may experience. IBCLCs are typically hired by hospitals and clinics, and often teach breastfeeding classes to expecting parents and postnatal mothers. The title International Board Certified Lactation Consultant is the only breastfeeding certification recognized by the US Surgeon General, and the only one used as a quality metric by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Learn more

CERTIFICATE PROGRAMS

Upon completion, those who pass the certificate program will be able to answer common breastfeeding questions and concerns, offer tips and guidance, and recognize when breastfeeding situations are outside of their scope of knowledge and refer to the appropriate professionals.

Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC)

The Certified Lactation Counselor credential identifies a specialist in lactation counseling who has completed a minimum of 45 hours of training and successfully passed a criterion-referenced examination. CLCs demonstrate the competencies and skills required to provide safe, evidence-based breastfeeding management for pregnant, lactating and breastfeeding women. CLCs come from a variety of different educational and employment backgrounds, including doulas, nurses, mothers, social workers, midwives, and many others. Learn more

Certified Lactation Specialist (CLS)

The Certified Lactation Specialist Course is designed for the aspiring lactation consultant and those who wish to improve their knowledge base and skills in working with the breastfeeding mother and child. A CLS has taken a 5-day course and obtained a certification to be used a stepping stone to the IBCLC credential. Learn more

Certified Lactation Educator (CLE)

CLEs educate, counsel, and support families and the community by providing evidence-based information about breastfeeding. Certified Lactation Educators have completed a 20-hour breastfeeding training course and passed a final online examination. They can be found working as public health educators, WIC peer counselors, hospital/community educators, and a variety of other breastfeeding support roles. Learn more

Breastfeeding Counselor (CBC)

Certified Breastfeeding Counselors have completed a mentored online training course and have provided 30 hours of breastfeeding support. Learn more

Lactation Educator Counselor (LEC)

Lactation Educator Counselors are typically health professionals who have received 5 days of on-site or online education and training and satisfactorily completed periodic testing. Learn more

MOTHER-TO-MOTHER SUPPORT

With mother-to-mother breastfeeding support, experienced mothers model optimal breastfeeding practices, share information and experiences, offer support to breastfeeding women in an atmosphere of trust and respect.

WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counselor

Peer Counselors are women who have at least 6 months of personal experience with breastfeeding and have received 20 hours of on-site training to provide mothers with breastfeeding information and support from pregnancy through weaning. Learn more

La Leche League Leader (LLLL)

The La Leche League is an international nonprofit advocacy group where leaders hold local chapter meeting to provide breastfeeding information and support. A La Leche League Leader has breastfed her baby for at least 9 months, offers practical information and encouragement through monthly meetings, and is expected to keep up-to-date with current breastfeeding research. Learn more

Breastfeeding USA Counselor

Breastfeeding USA Counselors have breastfed for at least 1 year and have completed a comprehensive training course to provide evidence-based breastfeeding information and support to breastfeeding mothers. Learn more