Information on Becoming an IBCLC

Info on becoming an IBCLC
Becoming an IBCLC

Many people contact La Leche League Canada asking how to become an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). The certification is awarded by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE). This organization was launched with the support of La Leche League in 1985. But it is important to know that LLL and IBLCE are two completely separate organizations.

LLLC is not responsible for staying up to date on the requirements of IBLCE. These requirements are mandated by IBLCE not LLLC. If you have any questions or concerns please contact IBLCE. This information is provided as a courtesy and should be confirmed with IBLCE.

For information on becoming an IBCLC please visit the IBLCE website.

You may find it helpful to begin your search by going to “IBCLC Certification” and clicking on “Step 1: Prepare for IBCLC Certification”.

The FAQ page also provides a lot of helpful information.

Lactation Specific Clinical Experience
In order to write the IBCLC exam, candidates must earn a set number of hours of lactation specific clinical experience. (This number varies depending on which “pathway” the candidate chooses to follow.) Please note that attending LLLC meetings does not qualify as clinical experience. Being mentored by an LLLC Leader, personal experience breastfeeding one’s own children and helping family members and friends also does not qualify.

LLLC Leaders are not permitted to sign any document on behalf of an individual verifying ‘volunteer hours’ or ‘lactation-specific clinical hours’ for those who attend LLLC meetings.’ Leaders may sign a document verifying attendance at a meeting for those who are required to attend a “breastfeeding support” meeting as part of their education. See Healthcare Student and Professional Guests at LLLC Meetings.

For information on how to earn this clinical experience please visit:

La Leche League Leaders Interested in Becoming IBCLCs
La Leche League Leaders are permitted to include the hours they spend working directly with breastfeeding mothers and babies as part of the required hours of lactation specific clinical experience. For those Leaders following IBLCE’s “Pathway 1”, these 1000 hours must be earned in the 5 years prior to writing the IBCLC exam. Leaders may include hours spent leading meetings, virtual or in-person, and working one-on-one with breastfeeding mother-baby pairs. Leaders may not include time spent teaching the LLLC Prenatal Breastfeeding Course, in continuing education, attending LLLC conferences or Leader Days, or administering their LLLC Groups.

Leaders are permitted to apply a flat-rate of either 250 hours or 500 hours for every year they are Leaders, prior to January 1, 2022. According to the IBLCE website as of May 2023, if you are providing mainly in-person support you can apply a flat-rate of 500 hours/year for years up to and including 2021. And if you are providing mainly telephone and/or online support you can apply a flat-rate of 500 hours/year for years up to and including 2021. For more information contact IBLCE or see the website. Leaders must be able to prove that they were leading meetings and/or working with breastfeeding mothers one-on-one during these years in order to qualify for the flat-rate.

Hours earned after January 1, 2022, will be counted on an hour-per-hour basis. Please note that this will average 200 hours/year, or nearly 17 hours per month. Most Leaders will not be able to earn all of their hours solely through their work with LLLC. One or more alternative sources for lactation specific clinical experience will be required in order to earn the required 1000 hours in 5 years.

You are not required to provide a letter from LLLC verifying your clinical experience hours unless IBLCE selects your application for audit. If your application is audited and you require a letter of confirmation, LLLC will ask you to provide a record of the hours you spent leading meetings and/or working one-on-one with nursing parents, for any hours earned from January 1, 2022 onwards. For years prior to 2022, we will ask for information on your Leader activities during those years in order to confirm that you qualify for the clinical hours flat-rate.

IBLCE has provided the following information for breastfeeding volunteers. Please note that the above document includes a Lactation Specific Clinical Practice Calculator. It is highly recommended that you use this calculator to keep track of your clinical experience hours.

For more information, please contact IBLCE.