When the Indigo Girls sing, “It took a long time to, become the thing I am to you” clearly they aren’t talking about studying to become an IBCLC, but it certainly applies. As parents go through their own breastfeeding journeys some realize they want to help other people as well. They often start out in Peer-to-peer support, such a vital resource for new families, and soon begin to think about increasing their knowledge and expertise by becoming an IBCLC. Since I did not start out as an RN, nor in a peer support organization, I often have inquiries from people who are interested in chatting with me about the process. Just in the past few months, several women have contacted me to chat so I thought it was the perfect time to write about the process of becoming an IBCLC for someone who is not an RN.
There are many blogs out there describing the various pathways to certification and, as always, it’s important to become completely familiar with the information provided by IBLCE. I’m going to focus on Pathway 3: Mentorship, as that is the route I took to certification. When people reach out to me for information, it is not so much for the facts and details, but rather the experience, the personal take on the journey.
The three criteria IBLCE lists are Health Sciences Education, Lactation Specific Education, and Lactation Specific Clinical Experience. Since the IBCLC exam is the last step, I will add that as the fourth component.
Health Sciences Education - You will need to determine which courses you are missing based on your own college education. Eight of the courses must be for college credit; the other six may be continuing education.
*Tip* Start gathering your transcripts early to ensure you have proof of all courses to fulfill the education requirement.
Lactation Specific Education - All IBCLC candidates, regardless of which Pathway they choose, are required to take at least 90 hours in lactation and breastfeeding education. IBLCE does not recommend specific courses, nor do they approve them in any way. It is your responsibility to be sure the course you take meets the requirements as outlined in the IBLCE Detailed Content Outline.
I’ll save the steps of setting up a private practice for another post. That has its own pitfalls and triumphs!
Hopefully I’ve given you some insight into the process of becoming an IBCLC through Pathway 3. Get to know the Pathway 3 Plan Guide well. Know all your requirements for education, for clinicals, for having your plan approved (you have to submit it to IBLCE), and all your dates. Don’t forget to keep track of all your education along the way in case you are audited. None of the steps are hidden, but you are responsible for keeping on top of all dates and requirements.
If you are thinking about becoming an IBCLC, what is your biggest concern?
Cynthia Bischoff, IBCLC, is the owner and provider at Lactation Life, offering lactation consults in Maryland.