Do you have a baby you’re looking to feed? When searching for a lactation consultant, it can be helpful to know exactly what the difference is between a lactation consultant and a certified breastfeeding specialist.

While it might seem like the titles are interchangeable, depending on the situation, the two can have quite a difference.

We’re here to help you. Keep reading to learn all about it.


A lactation consultant and a certified breastfeeding specialist both play important roles in supporting mothers and babies during the breastfeeding journey. However, there are distinct differences in their roles and qualifications.

A lactation consultant is a health professional who has completed rigorous training and certification through organizations such as the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners. A certified breastfeeding specialist may have completed a shorter course through another organization.

The certification of a lactation consultant requires a demonstration of specific skills and knowledge in lactation and breastfeeding. A certified breastfeeding specialist, on the other hand, may have a broader focus on maternal and infant health. 

Clinical Experience

Another main difference lies in their clinical experience. A lactation consultant is a healthcare professional, usually a:

  • nurse
  • midwife
  • doctor

These professionals have undergone extensive training and clinical experience in all aspects of lactation and breastfeeding management. They can work in various medical settings, such as:

  • hospitals
  • clinics
  • private practices

On the other hand, a certified breastfeeding specialist may not have a clinical background but has completed specialized training in lactation and breastfeeding techniques. They often work in community settings. They help in providing education and support to new mothers.

Assessment and Diagnosis

When it comes to assessment and diagnosis, a lactation consultant is qualified to provide a comprehensive evaluation of a mother and baby’s breastfeeding relationship. This includes identifying any underlying issues or concerns.

On the other hand, a certified breastfeeding specialist may focus on basic education and support. They refer to a lactation consultant for complex cases.

Ultimately, both professionals play essential roles in ensuring successful breastfeeding. However, a lactation consultant holds a higher level of expertise in assessment and diagnosis.

Medical Knowledge

Lactation consultants have an in-depth understanding of the anatomical and physiological aspects of breastfeeding. They can also diagnose and treat any issues that may arise.

On the other hand, certified breastfeeding specialists have a broad knowledge of different breastfeeding techniques and strategies. They focus on providing education and support to new mothers.

Both types of medical knowledge are essential in promoting successful breastfeeding. Both are essential in ensuring the health and well-being of both mother and baby. The different purposes of their medical knowledge highlight the importance of having a diverse and well-rounded team of professionals to support breastfeeding mothers.

Scope of Practice

A lactation consultant has a broader scope, as they are trained to diagnose and treat breastfeeding issues. They provide support on topics such as:

  • infant feeding
  • mother and baby bonding
  • postpartum care

Infant Feeding

A new mother’s decision on how to feed her infant is crucial for the health and well-being of both the mother and the baby. Seeking guidance and support from a lactation consultant can greatly benefit a new mother in making informed choices about infant feeding.

Lactation consultants can address common concerns such as:

  • latching difficulties
  • low milk supply
  • nipple pain

With their expertise, a lactation consultant can help a new mother navigate the challenges and joys of infant feeding. This helps lead to a positive and successful feeding experience for both mom and baby.

Mother and Baby Bonding

Lactation consultants help the mother understand that breastfeeding does not only provide essential nutrition for their baby. It also creates a powerful bond between mother and child.

Learning about this bond from a lactation consultant can help new mothers feel more confident and connected to their babies. This leads to a more fulfilling and enjoyable motherhood experience.

Postpartum Care

Lactation consultants are trained and knowledgeable in helping new mothers navigate through the challenges of breastfeeding and postpartum care. They provide evidence-based:

  • information
  • support
  • guidance

This helps to ensure a successful breastfeeding journey and overall postpartum recovery. Furthermore, they can educate new mothers on how to manage common postpartum issues such as:

  • engorgement
  • sore nipples
  • mastitis

By learning from a lactation consultant, a new mother can gain confidence and valuable skills to care for herself and her newborn. Thus promoting a healthy and happy postpartum experience.

On the other hand, a certified breastfeeding specialist focuses primarily on education and counseling. This helps mothers to establish and maintain a successful breastfeeding relationship with their babies.

The purpose of the scope of practice is to outline the specific responsibilities and limitations of each role. This helps in ensuring the safety and effectiveness of care provided to breastfeeding mothers.

Continuing Education

To maintain their expertise and provide the best care for their clients, both professionals are required to fulfill continuing education requirements. This ensures that they stay updated on the latest:

  • research
  • techniques
  • guidelines

All of which are related to lactation and breastfeeding. The purpose of these continuing education requirements is to:

  • enhance their skills
  • improve their knowledge
  • improve the quality of care

It helps them stay current with any changes in the field. Thus allowing them to adapt and incorporate new information into their practice. Ultimately, the goal is to ensure that both lactation consultants and certified breastfeeding specialists can provide the best possible support for breastfeeding families.

Insurance Coverage

While most insurance plans cover services provided by lactation consultants, some may not cover services provided by certified breastfeeding specialists. This difference in coverage may be because lactation consultants have a wider scope of practice. This means they can provide more comprehensive care, such as diagnosing and treating breastfeeding problems.

On the other hand, certified breastfeeding specialists may only provide education and support. This may not be considered a medical treatment by some insurance providers.

It is important for families to carefully review their insurance plans. Everyone must choose a provider that covers the services they need to receive proper care and support during their breastfeeding journey.

Know the Difference: Lactation Consultant vs Certified Breastfeeding Specialist

While both a lactation consultant and a certified breastfeeding specialist provide valuable support to new mothers, there are some key differences between the two. Depending on your specific needs and preferences, one may be a better fit for you and your baby. 

Be sure to do thorough research and consult with both professionals to determine the best option for your breastfeeding journey. 

For more helpful articles, visit our blog.