The Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC) credential identifies a specialist in lactation counseling who has successfully passed an examination based on identified work-place competencies derived from role delineation studies. The latest ALPP role delineation study was in 2005.
The CLC credential signifies that the holder has demonstrated the necessary skills, knowledge, and attitudes to provide breastfeeding counseling and management support to families who are thinking about breastfeeding or who have questions or problems during the course of breastfeeding/lactation. CLCs are dedicated to the promotion, protection, and support of breastfeeding and human lactation in their work to prevent and solve breastfeeding problems. They understand that breastfeeding works best when it is the cultural norm and when the provider of lactation support and services is culturally competent. Obtaining the CLC credential is a way of demonstrating your knowledge and skills in lactation management. Certification is open to applicants who successfully complete a 45- hour evidence based, comprehensive lactation course, and awarded to those who successfully pass the comprehensive examination. The Code of Ethics for ALPP CLCs is available by clicking here. If you have a concern about the ethical actions of a CLC, please feel free to fill out this form and mail it to ALPP. You can read the policy of the practice and disciplinary procedures in the Candidate Handbook.
Individuals who hold the CLC credential come from a variety of different educational and employment backgrounds, including mothers, peer counselors, educators, nurses, childbirth educators, doulas, nutritionists, dietitians, midwives, physicians, social workers, public health workers, public administrators, and many others. Individuals work as lactation counselors in settings including obstetric and pediatric practice settings, hospitals, public health programs, and independent practice.
CLCs work within a counseling model, understanding that breastfeeding decisions are made by the mother, who may have values and goals different from the counselor. A counseling approach is used to elicit information and provide appropriate support to the mother and her family. The CLC works as part of the health care team, ensuring appropriate referrals and recommendations. CLCs provide breastfeeding counseling and lactation management in:
- Maternity units in hospitals and birth centers
- Neonatal intensive care units and special care nurseries
- Outpatient lactation clinics
- WIC programs
- Visiting nurse programs
- Maternal and child health services at the state, county, and local level
- Parenting centers including military family support centers
- Physician and midwife offices
CLCs are members of the health care team who can provide knowledge and counseling about optimal and sub-optimal breastfeeding. Research has shown that the education required of CLCs prior to certification is associated with improved breastfeeding outcomes.
Applicants for certification must meet criteria specified for the examination. Information on requirements can be found in application materials for the exam. To be eligible to sit for any exam administered by ALPP, applicants must not be currently under disciplinary action by ALPP and must not have suffered any adverse disciplinary action by ALPP within two years of applying for ALPP Certification. Applicants for an examination must sign a declaration attesting to the fact that all information provided on the application form is accurate, complete, and true. Applicants must pay the exam application fee and provide government-issued picture identification.
In order to be eligible to sit for the exam, applicants must have successfully completed, in its entirety, a 45 classroom hours nursing skills competency lactation management course based on the World Health Organization (WHO)/UNICEF Breastfeeding Counseling Course, and must be accredited as an ANCC Nursing Skills Competency Course. The course must also be accredited by the following four standard setting agencies for continuing education: The American Nurses Credentialing Center's Commission on Accreditation, The Commission on Dietetic Registration, The American College of Nurse Midwives, and The International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners. An acceptable course must also be worth 3 college credits at a college or university accredited by The Higher Learning Commission. Successful completion of coursework must be verified by approved faculty signature.