IBCLC, CLC, CLE? Here’s the basics on some of the different types of infant feeding support that are out there.

As a birth and postpartum doula, part of my job is to refer my clients, and the families in my community I support, to the resources that are available to them. Every family I work with has questions about how to feed their infant, whether it is their first or 10th baby they have cared for. There are many ways to feed your baby and all work great if the baby and parents are thriving. Some parents choose to feed their child(ren) breastmilk, formula or a combination of both from a nipple, feeding system, bottle or supportive device. However you choose to feed your baby, a professional may be beneficial to ensure you have a positive, succesful feeding relationship. The lactation consultant/educator/counselor information can be quite confusing to someone that is new to the world of infant feeding support. There are many acronyms out there (IBCLC, CLC, LLL, CLE). The term lactation consultant is not trademarked, so there are big differences in the different titles level of training and experience.

Before you hire a professional to support you on your infant feeding journey I recommend learning about the types of support available to families caring for their infant(s). I included a list below of many of the acronyms and titles that you may see when searching for professional infant feeding services. You can click on the individual links to learn more about the type of support each type of lactation consultant/counselor/educator offers to see if they would be a good fit for you and your family, or your clients. In general, anyone on this list that isn’t a board certified IBCLC shoud not be creating careplans for you, doing inspections of an infants mouth or parents breast, use a scale to weigh supply, give devices to aid in feeding (example: nipple shields), offer any medications or other medical advice.

Lactation Consultant
Lactation Consultant Chart

IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant).They have a college degree, complete a accepted course, pass an extensive exam, and complete a thousand of hours of experience.The title IBCLC is the only breastfeeding certification recognized by the US Surgeon General, and the only one used as a quality metric by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Receive certification from the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners ®.

CLC (Certified Lactation Consultant). Usually has completed a course, received a certificate, and proven they have experience helping breastfeeding mothers and babies. Receive certificate from  Healthy Children’s Center for Breastfeeding (ALPP).

CBC (Certified Breastfeeding Counselor)- Completed the two-day CBC course by Prepared Childbirth Educators, Inc., passed a final examination and a written assignment. They hold an active Registered Nursing License and have a minimum of one year experience working with pregnant or lactating women

ALC (Advanced Lactation Consultant)- Completed the Healthy Children Project’s Advanced Issues in Lactation Practice Certification Program and are certified by the Academy of Lactation Policy and Practice (ALPP).

ANLC (Advanced Nurse Lactation Consultant) Completed the Healthy Children Project’s Advanced Issues in Lactation Practice Certification Program and are certified by the ALPP.

BC (Breastfeeding Counselors): WIC, LLL, Breastfeeding USA and other organizations have their own requirements for this title. It usually requires completing a course and having personal experience to offer peer support. 

CLS (Certified Lactation Specialist)- Training class to complete part of IBCLC requirements. Certificate of completion received from Lactation Education Consultants after completing a 5 day course.

LS (Lactation Specialist)- Course geared toward hospital staff to satisfy the educational requirements of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative. It is not a certificate or certification program.

CBS (Certified Breastfeeding Specialist) -This is a stepping stone to becoming a IBCLC. The credential is awarded by Lactation Education Resources after completing a list of courses.

CBE (Certified Breastfeeding Educator) – Completed the training course from Lactation Consulting Services. 

IFS (Infant Feeding Specialist) -Completed a certificate course from ProDoula.

CLE (Certified Lactation Educator)- They educate, counsel and support families by providing information about lactation and breastfeeding. Completed a  certificate program through CAPPA.

CLEC (Certified Lactation Educator Counselor) – Completed course for people to work with pregnant women and their families in community perinatal health programs. Course from – UCSD extension, no certificate or test required.

LLLL (LLL Leader)- Peer support counselors that have completed the LLL leader course.

IBC (Indigenous Breastfeeding Counselor)- Completed a training through CHEER.

Here are a few more links that will hopefully give you all the information you need on your journey finding a lactation consultant in the Asheville area. If you would like specific recommendations, contact me anytime or check out my Resources Page.

ACOG Finding Breastfeeding Professionals: https://www.acog.org/About-ACOG/ACOG-Departments/Breastfeeding/Find-Breastfeeding-Professionals?IsMobileSet=false

Find A IBCLC in your area: https://www.ilca.org/why-ibclc/falc

-There are currently 9 IBCLCs within 25 miles of Asheville, NC.

Find A CLC in your area: https://www.alpp.org/search

-There are currently 2 CLCs within 25 miles of Asheville.


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