An IBCLC is a highly qualified professional whose initial training includes 14 health science courses, 95 hours of specific training in human lactation, and between 300 and 1000 hours of clinical experience with families. IBCLCs are certified by an international exam. An IBCLC must meet rigorous continuing education standards to renew their certification every 5 years. The regulatory body for IBCLCs, the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE), requires the maintenance of professional standards, oversees the scope of practice, and enforces disciplinary procedures.

IBCLCs can work in private practice, community centers, hospitals, as part of healthcare teams, and in breastfeeding-specific clinics. Parents can also consult IBCLCs in pharmacies and local shops. Healthcare professionals such as nurses and doctors may have obtained the IBCLC title. Recognition of their specialized training allows their skills to match key positions within the healthcare network.

Breastfed infants require fewer medical visits and treatments than artificial infant milk, which helps reduce healthcare costs. A report from the United Kingdom showed that the economic cost of treating three childhood diseases—gastroenteritis, lower respiratory tract infections, and acute otitis media—all associated with the lack of breastfeeding, amounted to £75.5 million (approximately CA$131 million) per year.1 It calculated that the potential healthcare savings attributable to investing in breastfeeding support during the first four months of life amounted to £11 million (CA$19 million) per year for the same three infections. Another report estimated that investing in breastfeeding support to increase exclusive breastfeeding to 65% at 4 months would result in estimated savings of £17 million (CA$29.5 million) per year for these three diseases.2 Mothers who breastfeed also benefit from this investment, with the reduction in breast cancer incidence leading to estimated healthcare cost savings of £21 million (CA$36.5 million) per year for mothers who breastfeed for the first time in their lives.


1 Renfrew M, Pokhrel S, Quigley M, et al. Preventing disease and saving resources: The potential contribution of increasing breastfeeding rates in the UK. London, UK: UNICEF, 2012.

2 Pokhrel S, Quigley MA, Fox-Rushby J, McCormick F, Williams A, Trueman P, et al. Potential economic impacts from improving breastfeeding rates in the UK. Arch Dis Child 2015;100:334–40.

The title of IBCLC is the benchmark for specialized breastfeeding care. However, the term 'lactation consultant' can be used indiscriminately, so parents may unknowingly seek care from another practitioner who does not have adequate training to address breastfeeding issues. Recognition of this title protects the public and ensures that parents receive specialized support when needed, contributing to ensuring equitable access to breastfeeding care for all Quebeckers.