The American National Standards Instiute (ANSI) accredited the Certified Lactation Counselor® (CLC®) certification program based on the ISO/IEC 17024 Standard. ANSI accreditation is recognized both nationally and internationally and has become the hallmark of a quality certification program.
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 Job Task Analysis was in 2015.
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.
Pathways to Sit for the Certified Lactation Counselor Examination Offered by the Academy of Lactation Policy and Practice
Pathway 1: New to the Lactation Care Field
If you are new to the lactation care field, you must:
- successfully complete 45 hours of training based upon the footprint of the World Health Organization/UNICEF Breastfeeding Counseling Training Course, and;
- demonstrate the competencies and skills required to provide safe, evidence-based counseling for pregnant, lactating, and breastfeeding women.
More information on the pre-requisites to sit for the CLC exam can be found here.
Pathway 2: Experienced Lactation Care Providers
If you are an experienced Lactation Care Provider, you may take the ALPP Lactation Counselor Certification Exam if you:
- Are a licensed health professional (RN, APRN, physician) or hold a bachelor’s degree or higher.
- Have completed a minimum of 45 hours of continuing education within the past three years that relates directly to the WHO/UNICEF (World Health Organization/United Nations Children’s Fund) competency areas for breastfeeding (lactation) counselors, as well as the Certified Lactation Counselor competencies, including:
- Breastfeeding difficulties
- Have completed 150 hours of directly supervised lactation care within the past three years.