What types of lactation professionals are there?

There are several types of lactation professionals, including lactation consultants, lactation counselors, lactation educators, and lactation peer counselors. 

Lactation Counselors

Depending on their experience and education, a Lactation Counselor helps clients resolve basic and complex lactation problems, including establishing lactation and overcoming latch and positioning problems. Lactation Counselors can work in clinics, hospitals, community organizations, or independently in private practice. A Lactation Counselor does not need a healthcare background, although some employers might require it.

Read more:

  • How do I become a Lactation Counselor?
  • Where can I work as a Lactation Counselor?

Lactation Consultants

A Lactation Consultant usually refers to someone who has completed lactation-specific education of at least 90 hours in length and additionally has met the requirements to be recognized as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant® (IBCLC®), which includes:

  • Completed eight health science courses through a recognized school of higher education and six other health science courses
  • Completed at least five hours of communication skills education
  • Provided 300-1000 hours of clinical lactation support (depending on the pathway chosen)
  • Passed the IBCLC® exam

The IBCLC® is not a training program but a credential that recognizes a person’s meeting of these requirements. Some hospitals and clinics require the IBCLC® credential to work in that setting or require a person to be working towards the credential. A Lactation Consultant does not need to be a nurse or midwife, although some individual employers may require it.

Childbirth International’s Lactation Counselor course qualifies for the 90 hours of lactation-specific education and the five hours of communication skills education.

Read more:

  • Pathways available to become an IBCLC®

Lactation Educators

A Lactation Educator has attended a workshop or completed a short course on providing lactation education. Lactation Counselors and Lactation Consultants may also provide lactation education.

Read more:

  • What does a Lactation Educator do?

Volunteers and Peer Counselors

Peer counselors are people who have breast/chestfed themselves and offer peer support to other families during their lactation journey. They often work as volunteers through organizations like La Leche League.

Read more:

  • Becoming a volunteer or peer counselor