IBLCE Celebrates 35 Years of the IBCLC

As IBLCE’s 35th year draws to a close, we are reflecting on the incredible impact that IBCLCs have made during this time. In 1985, the year IBLCE was founded, the term “lactation consultant” was very new – and few outside of the field even recognised it. Since then, the field has grown dramatically, and there are now 33,492 IBCLCs in 125 countries and territories around the world!

We spoke to a few pioneer IBCLCs to learn more about the birth of the credential and its history. Here is a look back at how the IBCLC went from an idea to the gold standard in lactation care to breastfeeding families all over the world.

IBLCE Milestones

1985 – 2021

1985
1985

IBLCE Founding Meeting

IBLCE Founding Meeting
“Way back in the 1980s, we started investigating just how professions form, what comes first, how are people regulated, and realised that we needed to do the examination first. We worked with experts all over the world, found a 60-person…
1985

Preparing for the First Examination

“In April of that year, just after the founding meeting, my husband got orders – he was in the military – to move from the DC area, where I lived and was working with JoAnne W. Scott, the founding executive…
1985

The First IBCLC Examination is Held

The First IBCLC Examination is Held
“The IBCLC credential gave legitimacy to what we were doing in our work with families. We had sat through an extensive examination, we had to recertify, so it meant something far more than just hanging out a shingle.” – Jan…
1987
1987

The First Examination Administration Offered in Three Languages (English, German, Spanish)

1990
1990

The First 4-Continent Examination Administration

The First 4-Continent Examination Administration
“My greatest personal pride was to be chosen to serve as a volunteer leader for six years. I learned more during those years about the science and the difficulty of writing fair, science-based questions for the next examination and the…
2009
2009

First Examination Administration with over 4,000 Candidates

“I think now most physicians, midwives and nurses are very aware what an IBCLC is and how much they can help new families. Also, many within the healthcare fields around the world have decided to obtain this certification. The profession…
2011
2011

Pilot of Computer-Based Testing (CBT)

Pilot of Computer-Based Testing (CBT)
2016
2016

First Year Offering Two Examination Administrations

2020
2020

There are now 33,492 IBCLCs in 125 countries and territories!

“I think IBCLCs have made a tremendous impact over the last 36 years to move breastfeeding into the norm.  When I started, very few of my clients had mothers who had breastfed; by the time I stopped my private practise…
2021
2021

Happy IBCLC Day! Thank You for the Care You Provide to Breastfeeding Families.

Happy IBCLC Day! Thank You for the Care You Provide to Breastfeeding Families.
“I was extremely proud to become an IBCLC in 1987—and I continue to feel that pride. I am proud of the dedication demonstrated by other IBCLCs, as well as the gratitude communicated by parents.” – Amy Spangler, MN, RN, IBCLC

There are now 33,492 IBCLCs in 125 countries and territories!

Thank you to all IBCLCs who provide the gold standard of lactation and breastfeeding care to families around the world!

Learn more about how IBLCE grew from an idea to a worldwide credential that is over 33,000-strong here.

Important news for all 2021 IBCLC examination candidates: Live Remote Proctoring, your financial options, and extended deadline for the April/May examination

As you make your plans regarding the 2021 IBCLC examination, we have some updates on the testing modalities and candidate financial options for you to consider.

To give candidates more time to review these new options, the deadline to apply for the April/May 2021 IBCLC examination offered only in English has been extended by one week.

The deadline for applications to the April/May 2021 IBCLC examination is now January 27, 2021.

IBLCE has implemented the following options to help you make an informed decision about the IBCLC examination this year:

Live Remote Proctoring (LRP) in 2021

IBLCE will offer the April/May and September 2021 IBCLC examination administrations via Live Remote Proctoring in English, which is currently the only language offered by IBLCE’s third-party testing vendor.

IBLCE is making this option available again in 2021 after reviewing a variety of factors, including:

  • Accreditation: IBLCE was able to offer LRP in 2020 as an exception afforded by IBLCE’s third-party accreditor. After reviewing new guidance from our accreditor, IBLCE has determined we can offer this again in 2021, given this new guidance and the continued impact of COVID-19.
  • User Experience: Adjustments are being made to enhance the testing experience in 2021. Due to an unanticipated high volume brought about by the pandemic and internet bandwidth issues in some locations, there were sustained technical issues (in approximately 4% of IBCLC examination administrations) via Live Remote Proctoring. We appreciate that this was a very frustrating experience for these candidates. We will provide further information on our website regarding enhancements as it becomes available.
  • Language: IBLCE’s testing vendor currently offers LRP only in English. IBLCE and other certification organisations have requested that the testing vendor make further languages available in Live Remote Proctoring. IBLCE will provide further information as it becomes available.

IBLCE has approved the use of LRP for 2021 IBCLC examination administrations in light of the ongoing global pandemic.  Any use of LRP for IBCLC examinations in 2022 and beyond will be subject to further review.


Financial Options in 2021

Please see the full list of your financial options below:

Who What When
ALL Approved Candidates (April/May and September) ​   Partial Refund ​
(50% of fees paid)
April/May Candidates: Submit request to IBLCE by April 5, 2021. ​ September Candidates: Submit request to IBLCE by September 1, 2021.
INITIAL Approved Candidates (April/May and September)  

This also applies to those who were deferred from the 2020 examinations.

Defer fees to one of the next two examinations*  *Candidates must apply and meet the certification requirements in the year that they sit the examination. Submit request with documented extraordinary circumstances* before your examination date or within 30 days after the examination window.   
RECERTIFYING BY EXAMINATION
Approved Candidates (April/May and September)  

This also applies to those IBCLCs who were deferred from the 2020 examinations.

Defer fees to one of the next two examinations* and receive a one-year certification extension to December 31, 2022. *Candidates must apply and meet the recertification requirements in the year that they sit the examination. Submit request with documented extraordinary circumstances* and 15 L-CERPs before your examination date or within 30 days after the examination window.  
ALL Approved Candidates (April/May and September)  

This also applies to those who were deferred from the 2020 examinations.

Full Refund  April/May Candidates: Submit request to IBLCE by April 5, 2021 with documented extraordinary circumstances*.  September Candidates: Submit request to IBLCE by September 1, 2021 with documented extraordinary circumstances*.  Those who were deferred from the 2020 examinations and wish to request a full refund do not need to submit a new full 2021 examination application in order to request a full refund. If you intend to sit an examination in 2021 then you will need to submit a new application. Please contact your IBLCE regional location for further information.    

*Extraordinary circumstances also include COVID-19 related concerns, such as job loss of the candidate and/or partner/spouse, COVID-19 health issue for candidate or immediate family member, and/or concern for going into the public due to COVID-19

For more details about these options visit the IBLCE COVID-19 Resource Centre of the IBLCE website, as specific information and updates will be provided there when it is available. These options are only applicable to 2021 examination candidates due to COVID-19.


There will be further updates to the IBLCE COVID-19 Resource Centre’s LRP information this week to align with this announcement.  We will continue to update the IBLCE COVID-19 Resource Centre to provide you with up-to-date information to help make decisions in this continued highly fluid environment.  Please check back frequently to keep up with the latest developments.

If you have any questions about the options available for the 2021 IBCLC examination administration, please contact the IBLCE location that serves you.

If you are ready to apply, you can learn more about applying for the examination as an initial candidate here, or learn more about applying for recertification here.   

The April/May 2021 IBCLC examination is administered in English only. You can find applications in English in our new online credential management system here.  

The September 2021 IBCLC examination will be available in all IBLCE languages. Applications for the September examination will open on April 19, 2021.

Important notice for those served by the Americas & Israel IBLCE location

As we communicated in March 2020, due to COVID-19, the Americas & Israel and International Office staff began working remotely so the best way to reach us would be by email.

Earlier this month, we notified you that in the event you needed your credential verified, you could either refer to your online account or submit a certification verification form to iblce@iblce.org

We are reaching out to you now because we are experiencing a technical issue with respect to facsimiles (faxes) at IBLCE’s Americas & Israel location.  While we requested that credential verifications be sent only by email, we want to remind you of this given the importance of credential verifications and given this technical issue we are currently experiencing.  We are working diligently to resolve this, however, again, please do not fax to the Americas & Israel location, rather email iblce@iblce.org

If you need a certification verification, please request it using this form and email it to us at iblce@iblce.org.  Please note that IBLCE’s online public registry will be updated in January 2021.

If you sent us a fax and haven’t received a response from us, please email us at iblce@iblce.org.

We have been and will continue to check this email diligently as we approach year end.

We apologise for the inconvenience, and we look forward to serving you via email.

IBLCE Virtual Informational Session for Breastfeeding Support Counsellors is Now Available!

Are you a Breastfeeding Counsellor and interested in becoming an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant® (IBCLC®)?  Or would your organisation like to be listed as an IBLCE® Recognised Breastfeeding Support Counsellor Organisation?

If so, IBLCE’s Virtual Informational Session is available below.  Learn more about possibilities to enhance your career in the lactation field and/or get this recognition for your organisation. 

Find more information about Recognised Breastfeeding Support Counsellor Organisations here.


¡La sesión informativa virtual del IBLCE para consejeras en lactancia ya está disponible en español!

Si es Consejera de Apoyo para la Lactancia, obtenga más información sobre las posibilidades de mejorar su carrera en el campo de la lactancia en nuestra nueva presentación.

Puede obtener más información sobre las organizaciones reconocidas como consejeras de apoyo para la lactancia aquí.

News regarding the dissemination of examination results, recertification packets, and IBCLC certificates

We appreciate your commitment to the IBCLC certification – and we understand that verifying this certification is important to you, your employer, and stakeholders.

Like so many other things this year, the dissemination of IBCLC examination results and recertification by CERPs packets will look a little different than in years past. IBLCE will have new solutions available to you to view your examination results or verify your certification and recertification status.

IBLCE is currently evaluating certificate options that will be available in 2021. IBLCE will not provide ID cards this year.

But you won’t need to wait until 2021 to verify your status. Here is what 2020 IBCLC certification and recertification candidates can expect in the coming months:

  • If you sat the September 2020 examination, your results will be made available to you online by the end of this year according to IBLCE’s regular schedule. The results won’t be sent by post this year. You will receive an email with instructions to access your results online, as well as details about all certification verification options available at that time.
  • If you recertified by CERPs, there are already several options available to you to confirm your recertification status, as these packets won’t be sent by post this year:
    • You can find instructions to check that you have successfully recertified in IBLCE’s online credential management system here.
    • If needed, you can request a formal certification verification of your certification status through the IBLCE location that serves you. Please submit your verification request form no later than December 18, 2020 to allow for processing time to receive your verification by December 31, 2020.
    • You will also receive an email confirming your status this year.

Additionally, we anticipate the Public Registry will be updated by January 31, 2021.  

We encourage you to start talking with your employer now about how this will be different, and its impact on verifying IBCLC certification and recertification.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Our customer service team greatly appreciates your patience as we work to handle numerous worldwide requests in a short period of time.

Thank you again for your patience and understanding as we implement this new digital system – and for the support you provide to breastfeeding families during this challenging time.

Learn more and find the latest news in IBLCE’s COVID-19 Resource Centre.

New Video Series: Watch how IBCLCs around the world have shown resilience during the pandemic

IBLCE disseminated a call for videos showing how IBCLCs were responding to the pandemic, and the responses we received are inspiring. This year has been challenging for so many – and the impact of this pandemic will be felt, in some cases profoundly, for some time yet.  Yet these videos give great hope.

We have compiled the video submissions into a short series. You can watch them all here or below.

We are so grateful to the IBCLCs who shared their stories with us and made this possible!

We received stories from seventeen IBCLCs in nine countries: some had transitioned to remote consults. Some donned personal protective equipment (PPE) daily for in-person care. Still others focused on sharing information, training colleagues, or creating spaces for families to meet online. All were united in their effort to work collaboratively to ensure that breastfeeding families can access the support they need when they need it.

A sincere thank you to all IBCLCs for learning new skills, adapting, and showing resilience so that families do not have to navigate the challenges of breastfeeding alone. We hope you can see yourself in the challenges and successes shared in these videos – and know that we are all in this together. 

Save the Date: IBLCE Virtual Informational Session to be held on December 15, 2020

Are you a Breastfeeding Counsellor and interested in becoming an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant® (IBCLC®)?  Or would your organisation like to be listed as an IBLCE® Recognised Breastfeeding Support Counsellor Organisation?

If so, IBLCE is hosting a Virtual Informational Session on December 15, 2020!  Learn more about possibilities to enhance your career in the lactation field and/or get this recognition for your organisation. 

Have questions? Please submit your questions about Breastfeeding Support Counsellor Organisations in advance of the session to international@iblce.org by December 6, 2020 including in the subject line “Question for IBLCE Virtual Informational Session.”  IBLCE will answer your frequently asked questions!

The Virtual Informational Session will be available on our website on December 15, 2020.

Find more information about Recognised Breastfeeding Support Counsellor Organisations here and here.

IBLCE announces key dates for the 2021 IBCLC examination administrations

The IBCLC examination is offered twice a year, in April/May (in English only) and in September (in all IBLCE languages).

The schedule for application and administration of the 2021 IBCLC examination is as follows:

Apply for the April/May 2021 examination:
Dec. 8, 2020 – Jan. 20, 2021
April/May 2021 IBCLC examination dates:
Apr. 27 – May 6, 2021
Apply for the September 2021 examination:
Apr. 19 – May 28, 2021
September 2021 IBCLC examination dates:
Sept. 15 – 24, 2021

The schedule to recertify by CERPs is:

Apply to recertify by CERPs:
Apr. 19 – Sept. 30, 2021

There are several new eligibility criteria for both initial candidates and recertifying IBCLCs beginning in 2021:

Announcement about Live Remote Proctoring (LRP) still to come: IBLCE will announce later this year if we will offer the examination via LRP in 2021. IBLCE received a COVID-19 exception to use LRP where available in 2020 from its third-party accreditor, and we are waiting for a decision by the IBCLC programme accreditor to determine if this exception will continue in 2021.

Please visit IBLCE’s COVID-19 Resource Centre regularly for application and examination updates.

Follow IBLCE on social media for reminders about when application windows open and close and the latest IBLCE news (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram).

Tell Us Your Story: IBCLCs Stepping Up to Provide Breastfeeding Care During the Pandemic

IBCLCs can always be counted on to support breastfeeding families, even during challenging times!

During this pandemic, IBCLCs in hospitals, clinics and communities are working to ensure that families have excellent lactation support and care.  For many, this is one of the biggest challenges faced at this time.

The IBLCE Board has recorded a video message to wish you and all IBCLCs well as you work through this pandemic and to share how they are working through it as well.

Now, we would love to hear from you! How has your practice changed due to this global health crisis?

Please take photos or a short video (less than two minutes) and send us your story! What does a day in your life look like now as you continue to provide breastfeeding care? We want to compile a visual story of your efforts to showcase and inspire others! 

Upload your video/photos to IBLCELINK via Sharefile. Choose Recipient: IBLCE Link

Please send us:

  • Your name and title as you’d like it to appear in the final video
  • Your video as a .mov or .mp4 (mobile phone videos are acceptable)
  • Your photographs (please include captions or explanation of your photos)
  • Your email address

Send us your contribution by September 6, 2020. IBLCE staff may contact you to go over details after you have submitted your video or photos.

A few tips to set yourself up for a better video:

  • Record your mobile phone video horizontally, please!
  • Try to avoid direct, harsh lighting from above as your only/main light source. A few different light sources from different angles is better if that is possible.
  • Find a spot in a quiet room where you won’t be interrupted. For better sound quality, a carpeted room or a room with more soft flooring/furnishing is best if possible.
  • Set yourself up so you can look directly into your camera.

We are looking forward to witnessing how IBCLCs have adjusted to help breastfeeding families around the world.

We appreciate you taking the time to contribute to this project! We will make our best effort to include all submissions, but depending on the number of submissions received, that may not be possible. Thank you for understanding.