Becoming A Certified Lactation Educator Counselor

August 5, 2012

In celebration of World Breastfeeding Week I wanted to share why I became a Certified Lactation Educator Counselor (CLEC), what it entails and provide information to those who are interested in pursuing this path.

I believe we go through challenges in life to overcome them, learn from them and use those experiences to help others who are going through a similar process. Most of us have heard that breastfeeding is natural but doesn’t always come easily. I thought because I read a breastfeeding book while I was pregnant and took a childbirth class; it meant that I was fully prepared. I learned that proper preparation includes breastfeeding education, such as taking a breastfeeding class from a qualified lactation educator, and lining up a good support system. Unfortunately, there’s really a limited amount of information given in standard medical and nursing training with regards to breastfeeding. New mothers are not often set up to succeed because they are not armed with the right information or don’t receive enough support.

My son and I experienced many breastfeeding challenges that lasted for the better part of a year. Although there were times I felt hopeless and wanted to give up, I was determined to carry on. A friend recommended a lactation consultant (IBCLC) to come to my house. She taught me the basics, helped me understand why my son was having trouble latching-on and worked with us to resolve the issue. I met with another lactation consultant at her breastfeeding center over the course of several months to work through other obstacles that presented such as recurrent plugged ducts, forceful let-down, oversupply, vasospasm, lactational adenoma and a very distracted baby who would only feed in the side-lying position! She also gave me information and support so that I could return to a full-time job and express breast milk for my son while we were separated.

With their help, along with a very supportive husband, my son and I were able to work through these obstacles and go on to enjoy a very rewarding and mutually beneficial breastfeeding relationship. It feels only natural to help other women and families achieve their breastfeeding goals!

The CLEC program I took furnishes the basic information necessary to assist and encourage the breastfeeding triad of mother, baby and support person. The program covered topics such as the anatomy and physiology of lactation, early attachment of baby, hospital care, support during the postpartum stage, common concerns and solutions, and appliances and apparatuses used in breastfeeding. As a CLEC, I serve as a resource for accurate, evidence-based information to families, the public and health care providers. I help my clients address common breastfeeding concerns and refer more complicated cases to a Board Certified Lactation Consultant. I also remain a continuous source of support, guidance and encouragement throughout the breastfeeding journey.

My friend Lara, CLEC and founder of Mama Pear Designs referred me to an excellent certification program that is offered through UCSD. The program is offered onsite or online which allows the course to be self-paced with the only deadline being at the end of the course. Clinical/internship hours can be completed locally. There are no prerequisites to the course, but it is a prerequisite for UCSD’s IBCLC program should you wish to continue on that path.

The course is taught by Gini Baker, RN, MPH, IBCLC.  She is a well-respected expert in the field of Lactation, with more than two decades of experience working with mothers and babies. The course is made up of lecture, videos, assignments, exams, and clinical hours. The final assignment is writing a comprehensive teaching curriculum which prepares you to get out there and get started. I highly recommend this course to anyone with an interest in pursuing a path as a Lactation Education Counselor.

For more information about this program, check out Gini’s website and if you have any questions, feel free to contact me or leave a comment below.

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  • Reply Sara August 17, 2012 at 9:04 pm

    Thank you for writing this post!

    • Reply Natureal Mom August 30, 2012 at 7:00 pm


  • Reply Melinda Lommerse August 19, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    I love hearing stories from new mums! I still remember my pregnancy yoga teacher said that many mums change their lives after having a baby and not just in the usual ways you would imagine – I know mine certainly did – I now design beautiful breastfeeding clothes and have an online store that I run from home 🙂 I have a few friends who are lactation consultants and whenever I hear new mums on forums etc asking for breastfeeding advice I always want to chime in with any help or advice I can give, so your story really speaks to me. I never imagined how breastfeeding would become such a part of my life – just one of many and wonderous joys of parenthood!

    • Reply Natureal Mom August 30, 2012 at 6:58 pm

      Becoming a mama definitely changes your life in so many wonderful ways, right? That’s amazing that you were inspired to create a breastfeeding clothing line! Please share your website so we can check it out! 🙂

  • Reply Liat November 21, 2014 at 7:15 am

    So by completing the program and turning in the work online, you would earn the title and certificate of CLEC?

  • Reply A Breastfeeding Journey – Natureal Mom December 19, 2015 at 8:09 am

    […] Once Judah turned a year old things finally settled into place and we went on to enjoy a wonderful breastfeeding relationship. I believe we go through challenges in life to overcome them, learn from them, and use those experiences to help others who are going through a similar process. I felt compelled to help support other women and families achieve their breastfeeding goals and became lactation counselor and educator. […]

  • Reply Brittany February 28, 2016 at 4:58 pm

    Hi! Very interested in getting this certification. I checked out Gini’s website, but I am concerned that the program is not online. You mentioned that it could be online or onsite. I live in rural VA and would only be able to do it if online.

    • Reply Natureal Mom February 29, 2016 at 5:52 am

      When you look at the Lactation Educator Counselor Training Program, you’ll notice under “class type” that some say “in-class” and some say “online” – there are two upcoming online classes: 3/28/2016 – 6/11/2016 and 6/20/2016 – 9/3/2016.

  • Reply rhiannon April 4, 2016 at 5:04 pm

    I am interested in this program do you know how many clinical hours you need? and where you can do them at?

  • Reply Frustrated mom! November 3, 2016 at 12:10 pm

    Any advice for how to get baby to eat in any position other than side lying? We went through a nursing strike at 3 months old and the only way I could work through it was to do side-lying feedings. Now, at 7 months old, it is still the only way she will eat. Coupled with the fact that she will not take a bottle, and I am ready to pull my hair out! I’m even contemplating quitting my job (nightshift) because I can’t wake up every 2 hours to feed her and maintain my health and sanity.

    • Reply Natureal Mom November 5, 2016 at 6:18 am

      Hi there, I really do understand this as my older son would only feed in the side lying position as well. Despite everything I tried, I ended up riding it out. That said, your baby is different. My suggestion would be to hire a lactation consultant who can work with you and your baby in person. Hang in there!

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