Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sit for the Exam in 2011

Okay, there are a couple of posts I should probably be doing right now, but I really feel like I need to put this suggestion out there now.  I saw several people at the Breastfeeding Summit that were looking for a class to take to prepare them to sit for the IBCLC Exam.  As I engaged in conversation and learned about their background and experience, I told them to quit looking and start studying.

My advice is based on the changes coming up in 2012.  If you are experienced in lactation and have sat beside many moms helping them, don't be intimidated by a test.  If you are a competent lactation educator/counselor, you do not need to worry about an evaluation of your skills and knowledge.  I know the Exam can be intimidating and if you haven't had "formal" education, it can cause you to doubt yourself--don't let it!  No instruction can replace experience.  I have also talked students out of taking the exam because they may have met the qualifications, but were not ready to be lactation consultants. If you are ready, go for it, but if you are not--prepare.  Decide where you are personally.

You may be the complete opposite:  loads of experience, but lacking some CEU's or maybe even short a few counseling hours.  I would rather see you grab some CEU's from the web, LLL conference or other conferences and add a day of counseling so you have the requirements in order to be ready to test this year.

Next year, you will be required to take college courses and it could really hinder your progress towards sitting for the exam. Not only the time it will take, but the expense.  Weigh your options.  If you can get your act together by the application deadline--consider this blog a "kick in the pants", if there is no way, consider this a reminder to start looking for college courses or on-line courses so you do not get caught unprepared next year.

Okay, I said it, if you can take the exam this year because you have (or can get) the CEU's and counseling hours--go for it! Purchase the Core Curriculum, Counseling the Nursing Mom and Breastfeeding and Human Lactation.  Read, study, observe and sit with confidence.  If nothing else, it will take the "fear of the unknown" out of sitting in 2012.  You will not loose anything (well, maybe the investment, but you can also still apply for a scholarship until January 31).

One person that stopped by my table at the Summit thought it was funny that I talked her out of taking my class and into sitting for the exam this year.  I guess I haven't made it clear that my goal is to help everyone where they are at.  If you are ready, I will encourage you to take the next step; if you need preparation, I will prepare you; if you need prodding...I can do that too!  Let me know what direction you will be going, and remember--always enjoy the journey!


  1. I am confused, are you saying that you can sit for the exam if you have not done any coursework and then what. I have done lay counseling of women for a decade and work for a CNM working with new mamas and teaching breastfeeding 101 classes. I have taken the 20 hour CAPPA Lactation Educator course. It can't be that I can sit for IBCLC test with that only, can it? Let me know because if that is true I might investigate it. I didn't because I am going for CNM and didn't want more college courses than I already have to take.

  2. There are requirements in place for this year, but you may have already met need 1,000 hours of counseling moms in the past 5 years, 45 lactation specific training hours (your CAPPA should account for 20 of those)also within the past 5 years. Go to and check out the application process!

  3. Thanks, how do I document 1000 hours of counseling mothers? Do they have to have been under supervision? Because I have been a childbirth educator and doula for over a decade and have easily spent the hours counseling, but it wasn't in the presence of an IBCLC. So how can you prove the hours? I could go back and try to get letters from all the mothers I have worked with...Yikes!

  4. The documentation is basically on the honor system. The application gives you a method of calculating and one of my earlier blogs tries to explain it those and if you have any questions, let me know...sounds like you are most likely ready to tackle this exam this year.

  5. hi i am at a dead end i hope you may be able to point me in the right dirrection.i live in uk and have been a bf counsillor for my local hospital for 2 years seeing up to 4 woman a day and also running a drop in once a week for 2 hours seeing anything up to a class of 6 women for 3 years.i would like to know whether you know if my manager can sign these women of she is the lead midwife for 2 hospitals?.as regards to my studys i have done a 18 hour bfi training suitable for prep requirements with infant feeding specialist for nhs and la leche peer councilling program another 14 hour traing with supervisor of midwives and monthy training with the hospitals lactation consultant since working at hospital(2 years) i am so confused as to whether this training is not valid i really want to take the exam in july what do you think? many thanks your blog is brill kelly

  6. Christy Jo Hi,

    I was emailed a link to your web site and have ordered your book about breastfeeding for children tonight.
    I have been a Certified Postpartum Doula for 12 years. I have supported and helped many of my clients have a successful breastfeeding relationship with their newborn. What would you suggest I do to be able to sit for the IBCLC exam. If not in 2010 the next time is fine. I don't have any formal schooling other than High School grad, Medical Assistant and Postpartum Doula.
    Thanks so much.

  7. Thank you for the order, Joni and thank you for your dedication to helping moms with recovering and making the transition to motherhood. Becoming an IBCLC would be a natural progression for you. I find that IBCLC changes their requirements pretty regularly, but the counseling hours are always predominant. So, your first "assignment" is to calculate how many hours you have spent helping moms over the past 5 years. There is a current list on the IBCLE website of courses that will be required in the future (you may already have a lot of them through your education--these do not expire and you can go back more than 5 years). The ones you do not have you can start to pick up slowly. Go back to my blog on requirements and let's start there. Documentation of counseling hours can be kept on a day planner or calendar...just start keeping track and checking off one item at a time. I hope to post locations and websites that will be offering classes that fulfill the requirements. Keep in touch!

  8. kelsveil, it looks like you are in good shape, but I am going to check the requirements for the UK before I complete my comment...good questions!