A lactation consultant provides breastfeeding mothers with clinical support. They provide expecting and new mothers with breastfeeding awareness. They also help nursing mothers resolve any issues that arise in the breastfeeding relationship.
While anyone can use the title of “lactation consultant” regardless of education and training, the field standard is for lactation consultants to be certified and registered as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). This is also important to guarantee that you have the proper knowledge to help mothers adequately.
One of the greatest gifts a mother can bring to herself and her baby is breastfeeding. The child’s benefits are incomparable to any other supplement, and it also provides a foundation for better nutrition that no other diet can provide. However, breastfeedings can be quite troublesome for many mothers. So, having someone to guide and support them is valuable.
Training to Become a Lactation Consultant
Those who wish to become International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) must meet the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE) qualification criteria. To qualify for the IBLCE certification test, prospective IBCLCs must meet requirements for health science education, lactation education, and clinical knowledge in lactation requirements.
Prospective IBCLCs must complete courses in 14 subjects including 8 college courses on topics related to health sciences such as genetics, human anatomy, human physiology, growth and development of infants and children, nutrition, sociology, and psychology.
They also need to complete CPR courses, medical records, clinical terminology, occupational safety, professional ethics, and infectious disease safety precautions. Such standards may be excluded from current health care professionals such as physicians, nurses, midwives, and physician assistants.
Professionals are also required to complete 90 hours of lactation-specific training. The IBLCE does not accredit any courses for lactation training but suggests selecting a curriculum that covers all subjects that appear on the certification exam.
Job Prospects for a Lactation Consultant
Professionals in this field may work independently or may be hired by offices, hospitals, or lactation centers of physicians. Many health care practitioners, such as nurses, physicians, and midwives, prepare to become lactation counselors in order to better meet their breastfeeding patients’ needs. However, to become a consultant, it is not necessary to have an existing career as a healthcare professional.
In 2013, 76.5% of American women attempted to nurse their children, a drop of approximately three percentage points over 2007, but a much higher percentage than the 58% who tried to breastfeed in 1985.
If you want to work as an independent lactation consultant, you need to market your services in your community and make connections. You can get customer referrals from health care providers such as nurses, doctors, or midwives, so it is important to build a network of providers that can recommend your services with confidence. I
f you want to work in a hospital, doctor’s office, or lactation center, additional qualifications may be required beyond the certification of a lactation consultant. For example, many employers are seeking lactation consultants who are also registered nurses.
Average Salary as a Lactation Consultant
According to Payscale, the average pay for this job is $29.53 per hour. However, with amount will vary with your expertise and the population that you serve.
Depending on your situation, the amount of time it takes to become a lactation consultant can vary. If you already have some healthcare background, the process can be quite easy. If you want to know more about careers in healthcare, click here.