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How to become an IBCLC -Lactation Consultant

How to become an IBCLC -Lactation Consultant?

 

To become an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), there is an exam which is set by the IBCLE (International Board Certified Lactation Examiners). The exam is held twice a year in various locations throughout the country. During 2020-2022, due to Covid 19 restrictions, the exam could also be done in the comfort of your own home, by “Live Remote Proctoring”  Please check IBLCE website quarterly as this may be an option for all, going forward.  It is a computer based exam in Ireland, with multiple choice questions. You can decide yourself when to apply for the exam, as long as you have met the prerequisites (detailed below).

There are 3 pathways to becoming an IBCLC, depending on your educational background. IBCLC is a standalone qualification (i.e. you do not need a specific pre-existing qualification to become an IBCLC) but you do need to meet the criteria in one of the pathways to be eligible to sit the exam.  If you do not already hold a relevant health professional qualification embarking on training to become an IBCLC will take at least 3-4 years and similar costs to acquiring other health professional qualifications.

 

The Pathways Explained

 

Pathway 1

(This is the most common pathway taken by Irish candidates, either from a nonmedical or medical background)

For recognised Health professionals and recognised mother support counsellors and accredited by IBCLE- see list on website. 

You need:

  • a minimum of 95 hours, including 5 hours specific on “communication” within the last 5 years.
  • a minimum of 1000 lactation specific clinical practice, hours within the last 5 years
  • to complete 14 modules in health science education. (If you come from the health science background it is considered you completed these 14 health science in your training and you are exempt from this section.)

Additional information available here

 

There is an insightful blog post by Caoimhe Whelan here,  outlining her Pathway 1 journey towards becoming an IBCLC.  This blog was published in 2019, the changes from 2020 onwards are not included. You will need to refer to the website for up-to-date criteria requirements. 

 

Pathway 2

(not available in Ireland, this is based on a full time  Academic programme)

For candidates that do not hold a recognised Health professional qualification and are not recognised mother support counsellors.

You need:

  • to complete 14 Health Sciences Education courses
  • a minimum of 95 including 5 hours specific on “communication” within the last 5 years.
  • a minimum of 300 hours of directly supervised lactation specific clinical practice with a IBCLC registered and in good standing

Additional information available here

 

Pathway 3

(Mentorship, rarely occurs in Ireland)

You need:

  • the mentorship to be developed according to the specifications found in the Pathway 3 Plan Guide
  • the certification status of the IBCLCs serving as mentors to be verified by IBLCE prior to beginning the mentorship and the IBCLC to have recertified at least once
  • to complete 14 Health Sciences Education courses
  • to complete a Minimum of 500 hours of directly supervised lactation specific clinical practice in the duties described in the Clinical Competencies for the Practice of IBCLCs a within the 5 years immediately prior to exam application
  • a minimum of 95 hours including 5 hours specific on “communication” within the last 5 years.

 

Additional information available here

 

How to get 95 Educational Hours

  • Attend a IBLCE exam preparation course. Some ALCI members run training / exam preparation courses. Please email info@alcireland.ie and request the Education Directory. 
  • Attend breastfeeding conferences e.g. ALCI, La Leche League and Cuidiu conferences.
  • Online, visit Health e learning.com for CERPs, discussion forum and mock exam preparation.
  • Online, visit ilactation.com for conference. 
  • Online, visit ILCA for study modules and online webinars.
  • Online, visit Lactation Education Resources.
  • Online, visit Breastfeeding Outlook for courses and CERPS.

 

Education That Is Counted For Exam

There are three types of Continuous Education Recognition Points (CERPs):

  • Pre exam Education hours specific to lactation are counted,
  • Post exam education hours come in the form of CERPS, Continuous Education Recognition points.
  • Programs with instruction specific to lactation are recognised with L-CERPs
  • Educational activities about the ethics of practice for IBCLCs are recognised with E-CERPs
  • Professional education that is related to the work of an IBCLC, but is not specifically about breastfeeding or ethics, is recognised with R-CERPs

One (1) CERP is equivalent to sixty (60) minutes of instructional time.  All programmes, educational sessions etc, must be provided by people/groups/organisations/ bodies that are totally compliant with the full WHO code of marketing of Breastmilk substitutes and subsequent resolutions.

 

L (lactation) CERPs

L (lactation) CERPs can be earned from educational sessions, programs or materials where the primary focus or learning objective is lactation or breastfeeding specific, or addresses the role of the IBCLC

Example of L CERPs

  • Breast anatomy in relation to lactation
  • Clinical skills for IBCLCs
  • Clinical documentation for IBCLCs
  • Influence of culture on breastfeeding
  • The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding
  • Breastfeeding management
  • Breastfeeding research
  • Nutrition during lactation

 

E (ethics) CERPs

E (ethics) CERPs can be earned from educational sessions, programs or materials that address professional ethics or standards, or ethical issues relevant to IBCLCs

  • Practice ethics for lactation consultants
  • Informed consent
  • Health workers and the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes
  • Conflict of interest
  • Knowing your limits; when to refer
  • Human rights and infant feeding choice
  • Dealing with a colleague whose practice is not based on scientific principles and up-to-date information
  • Copyright and intellectual property

 

R (related) CERP

R (related) CERPs can be earned from educational sessions, programs but is not lactation, breastfeeding or ethics specific.

  • General anatomy
  • Infant growth and development
  • Research methods and statistics
  • Cultural differences in health practices
  • Cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
  • Postpartum depression
  • Counseling or communications skills
  • Adult education principles
  • Family dynamics
  • Infant Massage Practices
  • Nutrition (if not lactation-specific)
  • Complementary therapies (overview sessions only)

 

Restrictions

Educational programs based on topics not included on the IBLCE Exam Blueprint are not eligible for CERPs. Examples of topics that will not be recognised for CERPs include: Computer skills, Business management, Bra fitting (unless specifically related to lactation), Motivational sessions, Instructional programs on complementary therapies or specialized health care skills (e.g. fetal monitoring). Restrictions for CERPs include clinical work as a lactation consultant, antenatal or postnatal classes for mothers, private study, including reading journals and watching videos or programmes sponsored by formula and manufacturing of teats companies.

 

Costs 

You can click here to find the latest list of exam dates and costs.

 

ALCI

If you are considering becoming an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, or if you have begun your journey to become one, joining the Association of Lactation Consultants in Ireland is very beneficial to you.

Advantages of ALCI Membership include; discounts to ALCI events, annual events for members only, a regular ALCI updates, email alerts from ALCI on breastfeeding / lactation education related issues, a Members Directory, access to a Facebook discussion and support forum for ALCI members only, and the ability to apply for a cash bursary to attend a lactation education related event.

 

Updated with assistance from ALCI Council 2022.