Lactation Consultants who have the initials IBCLC or RLC after their names have completed rigorous training, including hundreds of hours of supervised experience, and passed a certifying exam given by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners, which is independently accredited. This is the highest level of professional lactation qualification, and those holding it are required to recertify every five years. An IBCLC may charge a fee, which may not be covered by insurance.
Read more about the IBCLC credential here.
Breastfeeding Counselors and Educators
Breastfeeding Counselors and Educators come from a variety of backgrounds and training programs. Such training includes classes or coursework, and may or may not include hands-on experience with nursing mothers and babies. A person listed in this section may hold a certificate saying they have completed a course or series of courses; the certificate may also show that the person passed an exam.
These Counselors and Educators will list credentials like Certified Lactation Counslor (CLC), Certified Lacation Specialist, Certified Breastfeeding Specialist, Certified Lactation Educator (CLE), etc. Because these are offered by different organizations, with different requirements for training and for certification, it is best to read about the training of each type of Breastfeeding Counselor and Educator here.
Free Community Breastfeeding Support Counselors
Free Community Breastfeeding Support Counselors are women who have received training from a specific organization, and have often breastfed their own babies. Some of these organizations require the Counselor to keep up-to-date with continuing education. These Counselors provide support about situations that may arise over the normal course of breastfeeding, and can guide a nursing mother in seeking help from a professional when needed. They may be available for phone help, in support group settings, and will sometimes provide home visits. This support is usually free (some may ask for coverage of expenses like parking if required when doing a home visit).
Free Community Breastfeeding Support Counslers may be trained by national organizations like Breastfeeding USA and La Leche League, or local ones. Read more about various volunteer training programs here.
Medical Professionals listed on ZipMilk are people who have a medical credential and have expressed an interest in breastfeeding. They might include doctors, midwives, osteopaths, or dentists.
As with non-medical practitioners, the most rigorous professional certification in breastfeeding is the IBCLC. Doctors may also be members or fellows of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, a world-wide organization of MDs interested in breastfeeding. Please note that a medical credential by itself does not show that the person has breastfeeding expertise. A Medical Professional who is listed here should tell you about their additional experience or training in breastfeeding.
Read more about various credentials you may see in addition to a practitioners medical degree here.
Support Groups on ZipMilk might be led or facilitated by a person from one of several different backgrounds. The person might be a volunteer counselor, IBCLC, Peer Counselor or CLC, or something else - feel free to ask about a facilitator's training if it is not clearly stated.
Support Groups offer a chance to meet other mothers and get advice on breastfeeding from both peers and experts. Group times and locations are subject to change. Please call to confirm these before attending a meeting. Groups run by volunteers are usually free. Groups run by hospitals or businesses may have a charge or require registration.
Read more about the training of the people who might run these Support Groups here.
WIC Breastfeeding Coordinator
WIC Breastfeeding Coordinators oversee programs that support breastfeeding mothers enrolled in the federal program for Women, Infants, and Children. Many WIC offices have peer counselors who can provide support for nursing families. Search ZipMilk for your local WIC office to find out what services are available.
Read more about the training program for WIC Peer Counselors here.