I have letters after my name. When I sign something professionally, I get the honor of following my signature with 'IBCLC'. Unfortunatley, people outside of the breastfeeding community, and many people inside that community, don't know what that means.
When I wrote the exam, I published this post to explain why I had been so stressed but I wanted to go back and give some more detail.
So, what do the letters IBCLC mean?
An IBCLC is an International Board Certified Lactation consultant. In order to use those letters you need to have completed certain steps to qualify to write the Board Exam, and then write and pass that exam.
How do you earn those letters?
Its a bit confusing, but there are 3 pathways you can follow to qualify to write the exam.
Pathway 1 is for registered health professionals and lactation professionals. So nurses, registered dietitians, doctors, la leche league leaders, people like that.
You need to complete 14 health science courses, 90 hours of lactation specific education and 1000 hours of lactation specific clinical practice.
Pathway 2 requires that you complete a recognized academic program in lactation of which there are 6 choices. The program must include a number of things but primarily, 90 hours of lactation specific education and at least 300 hours of lactation specific clinical practice. Before you can take one of these courses, you also need to have completed the 14 health science courses or be a member of a registered health profession recognized by IBLCE.
In order to qualify under this pathway you need to find a mentor who is already an IBCLC, determine the criteria you're going to complete and then send in an application to IBLCE. The criteria need to include a minimum of 500 hours of directly supervised lactation specific clinical practice.
What does it mean to be an IBCLC?
As an IBCLC, my job is to help you meet your breastfeeding goals. It that means exclusive breastfeeding, then I will work as hard as I can to help you do that. If you would prefer to combo feed (breast and bottle) then I will work as hard as I can to make sure you can do that for as long as possible.
Officially, an IBCLC is a health care professional who specializes in the clinical management of breastfeeding.
I can help you figure out why it hurts, why it isn't working, or why it's changed from what it was before.
IBCLC's work in hospitals, clinics, and we offer home visits.
Before I qualified to write the exam, I completed approximately 750 hours working at the International Breastfeeding Center. I worked with literally hundreds of breastfeeding/chestfeeding pairs to help them meet their goals, and I'd be happy to do the same with you.
Because of the unique nature of that clinic (www.ibconline.ca) I have had the privilege and honor of working with many unique challenges. I've worked with parents from all over the world to help them with things like chronic blocked ducts, mastitis, not yet latching babies and other challenges. If you're struggling with something, reach out! Even if you've seen someone else, I may be able to help.