The International Lactation Consultant Association® (ILCA®) has a number of resources to help you become an IBCLC and prepare for the certification examination.
The basic requirements needed to become an IBCLC
To become an IBCLC, you’ll need to take certain health science courses, acquire lactation education hours, obtain clinical hours supporting breastfeeding families, and sit for the certification exam. The exam is developed and overseen by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners® (IBLCE®).
There are three pathways to becoming an IBCLC. The one you choose may depend on whether you have a background in health sciences and how you plan to obtain your clinical hours. You can learn more about the three pathways here at IBLCE’s site.
Finding the right course for you to become an IBCLC
Once you choose a pathway, you’ll select how you will obtain lactation education hours. It is recommended that you complete a comprehensive lactation management course. At the ILCA site, you’ll find a student resource page with a number of resources, including:
Guide to Selecting a Course – Questions to ask course directors to help find a course that fits your needs.
Directory of Lactation Management Courses – List of available courses, with details including the number of hours, learning mode, language and contact information. You’ll find online, local, and college-level offerings, with some that include the opportunity for clinical hours.
Frequently Asked Questions – Answers questions about college prerequisites, clinical experience, continuing education.
Professional Practice Documents – Learn about your profession. Here you’ll find links to Standards of Practice, Scope of Practice, Code of Professional Conduct, and Clinical Competencies.
ILCA also has a number of ways for you to acquire your course hours and develop a connection to your IBCLC community.
Annual Conference – The premiere educational event, offering over 30 contact hours on a wide variety of topics presented by internationally recognized speakers.
Worldwide Education Calendar – Listing of continuing education offerings, including conferences and courses.
Webinars – Live webinars in several languages; placed on the ILCA CERPs onDemand Site following the live presentation.
Continuing Education – A wide selection of study modules on ILCA’s online CERPs onDemand site. Study modules are based on previous conference sessions, journal articles, and selected documents. ILCA members receive a 50% discount.
Finding the clinical hours you need to become an IBCLC
Acquiring clinical experience is the greatest challenge for students and could take some digging to find somewhere to get your clinical experience.
Clinical Instruction Directory – This new resource is still populating with sites. You can check to see if there is a site near you.
ILCA Discussion Board – Need a Mentor is one of many topics on ILCA’s discussion forum. You can see previous comments, post your questions, and post a notice that you need a mentor. There isn’t a high volume of messages on the forums, but you never know when you might find your mentor here!
Find a Lactation Consultant Directory – Locate IBCLCs in your area and contact them to ask if they will mentor you. This may be your best resource.
ILCA affiliates – Contact the group in your area to ask if they know of instructors near you.
Students are welcomed members of the ILCA community! Members enjoy many benefits including a subscription to the Journal of Human Lactation and the weekly ILCAlert emails. A Members Only section of the website is quickly becoming the hub of much IBCLC activity from the Career Mart to teaching tips to resources for promoting your practice. Other member features include discussion boards, FAQ’s, conference session presentations, and access to the online Journal of Human Lactation. Members also receive discounts on ILCA Bookstore purchases, study modules, conference attendance. Learn how to join here, including details on special student rate memberships.
Best wishes on your journey!
photo courtesy of the Indiana Black Breastfeeding Coalition. Anne Schollenberger Photography.