What is a Lactation Consultant?

A Lactation Consultant is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, IBCLC, who is a health care professional who specializes in the field of breastfeeding. We are certified by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners under the direction of the US National Commission for Certifying Agencies. Lactation Consultants have extensive formal breastfeeding education as well as clinical training and most of all, we have passed an International Certification Exam. In the mid-1980’s an International Exam was developed by the Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners, IBCLE. Today, there are over 20,000 Lactation Consultants around the world. In the Houston, Texas are, there are only a few. Obtaining clinical practice in lactation and breastfeeding is one of the first steps to becoming a Lactation Consultant. All of us who sit on these boards have finished general education in courses such as Biology, Human Anatomy, Human Physiology, Infant and Child Growth and Development, Nutrition, Psychology and Counseling courses, Medical Terminology and Cultural Educational courses. For me, it took four years to complete. Furthermore, we have completed hundreds if not thousands of hours directly related to breastfeeding care in a clinical setting. I interned for two years in a hospital setting, Ben Taub Hospital in Houston, Texas. Now let’s compare a Lactation Consultant to a Certified Breastfeeding Educator. Getting a Certified Breastfeeding Educator, CBE, Certified Lactation Counselor, CLC, Certified Lactation Educator, CLE and a Certified Lactation Specialist, CLS is a much shorter process and does not give a person Lactation Consultant status. A CBE, CLC, CLE and a CLS all have taken additional training in Lactation management however, they are not a Lactation Consultant or an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant, IBCLC. Just because you are a nurse does not mean that you know everything about breastfeeding or give you the title of a Lactation Consultant.

As a Lactation Consultant, we have been trained to deal with major problems such as a baby not sucking well, therefore, we may need to teach a parent how to finger feed for extra practice and nutrients. Or we may have to give a supplemental feeding tube temporarily to help nourish the baby. A Breastfeeding Educator has not been trained to help you as well as we have as a Lactation Consultant. We have learned through our schooling and clinical rotations how to help moms. I call myself a Breastfeeding Detective. I come to your home, carefully listen to what you have to say, observe a breastfeeding session and carefully analyze what is the cause of your problems you are having with breastfeeding.

My goal is to guide you to breastfeed your baby successfully. I make sure your baby is latched on properly, make adjustments if possible, supplement if needed, provide proper care for nipple pain and make sure breastfeeding is off to a smooth start. Before I leave, I make sure you are comfortable with what you have learned from my private consult at your home before I leave. In conclusion, if you are in need of immediate breastfeeding help, please call me on my cell phone number at any time of the day. I will return your call as soon as possible. It is important to have a good breastfeeding support system so if you need extra help, please don’t hesitate to call me. My primary focus is to provide you with education, assist you in helping to resolve your breastfeeding problems and supporting you to continue to breastfeed you baby successfully.

Remember to ask the person who is assisting you whether they have the IBCLC initials behind their name. This way you know that we are the real deal and we can call ourselves a Lactation Consultant.