In the past "Lactation Consultant" was a term/title used to refer to a specific group of people, International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs). In recent months/years, there have been certificate programs created (different than CREDENTIALs). Because Lactation Consultant is not a protected title individuals who choose to work with families and offer breastfeeding help can refer to themselves as Lactation Consultants. Some choose to do this, while others choose to use a different title in order to differentiate themselves. While some choose to use a different term/title, often the public does not know any different or gets confused and refers to all these individuals as Lactation Consultants.
There are very distinct differences between requirements to use the title International Board Certified Lactation Consultant and the certificate programs but also the scope of practice, continuing education required, mandate to belong to a registered body, etc.
This scenario unfortunately leaves the public having to be aware of this and do some homework when calling someone for help.
I do believe that there are varying levels of help that mothers need and that there is room for multiple layers of helps. In fact, my becoming an IBCLC started with a different level and layer of breast-feeding support that inspired me to learn more, continue my education and write the IBCLC exam. The scenario becomes a concern when the public is confused and thinks they have seen an IBCLC, when in fact they had not or when someone with a certificate program (with its own distinct title) begins to use a term that can be misleading, like Lactation Consultant, or even with a Lactation Consultant position or just a breastfeeding support clinic within a healthcare facility is being staffed by a nurse, who might have some extra training in breastfeeding but isn't an IBCLC.
I worked hard to become an IBCLC as did my IBCLC colleagues and we are proud of our IBCLC title, but we also know we are more commonly known as Lactation Consultants. I became an IBCLC to leave breastfeeding better than how I found it in 2004 and continue to work hard to make it better. But this isn't about myself and the work I do. This is about the public being aware of the variability that exists and that there presently is no regulation on breastfeeding supports.
It can be compared to Interior Designers & Interior Decorators, Architects & Industrial Designers, Dental Assistant & Dental Hygienists, RN's & LPN's, Pharmacists and Pharmacy Assistants, Medical Laboratory Technologists, Lab Assistants and Phlebotomists, Midwives and Doulas. So often we come into contact with these fields but we have no idea what the differences in education, skill, title, role, etc is. Ideally, it is up to the professional to make sure the public is aware of this, but it is undoubtably confusing to the consumer and can be overseen by the professional in busy times or misunderstood by the consumer especially when the consumer in the case of breastfeeding help is an overwhelmed, new mother.
It can also be that the professional is intentionally choosing to refer to herself as a Lactation Consultant with no regard for the confusion it may cause.
There are a few places that people can go to look to see if their Lactation Consultant is an IBCLC. One is the public registry of IBLCE https://iblce.org/public-registry/
In Saskatchewan you can also double check with the Saskatchewan Lactation Consultant Association. http://www.skslca.com