There are 6 types of lactation support professionals.
1.) There are breastfeeding medicine specialists. These are doctors who have additional training in lactation health. They are fellows of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine.
2.) There are IBCLCs (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant). They have college education, clinicals, a board exam, required continuing education, and must recertify every 5 years. It is often said lactation consultants are the gold standard of lactation professionals. The IBCLC was the first certificate for professional lactation support. This credential began in 1985. Click here to learn how to become an IBCLC.
3.) There are certified breastfeeding specialists, lactation specialists, lactation counselors, and various similar titles through programs preparing health professionals to become IBCLCs. Some of these professionals go on to be lactation consultants while others stay at this level.
4.) There are also certificate programs for breastfeeding counselors that are not designed to train IBCLCs. Doulas and childbirth educators may go through these programs to be breastfeeding counselors.
Click here to see a list of lactation training programs in the USA.
5.) Then there are peer counselors which are mom to mom support leaders. La Leche League is a very popular peer support. Breastfeeding USA is rising in popularity. You can get formal peer counseling through WIC and a few other organizations.
6.) We also have breastfeeding/lactation educators whose training is specifically for teaching classes rather than doing 1 to 1 support. A person may choose to get certified through multiple trainings.
Which type of professional should you see???
If you are a healthy person who is pregnant and has breastfeeding questions, take a breastfeeding class. Read breastfeeding books. I can’t help but recommend mine, Lactation Lessons From Leanna. Attend support meetings such as La Leche League, Breastfeeding USA, or Baby Café USA. Make an appointment with any of the certified lactation professionals. It’s not necessary to see an IBCLC, but you need to find the person that’s right for you.
If you are having common problems with breastfeeding, talk to an IBCLC or any certified lactation professional.
If your baby is premature or has health problems, you need to talk to an IBCLC. If you have health problems, consult an IBCLC.
If you have any rashes, lesions, discharge that is not milk, lumps, or bumps, go to your OB/Gyn.
If you are interested in becoming a breastfeeding support professional, click on the following blogs.