Breastfeeding Support Interventions by International Board Certified Lactation Consultants: A Systemic Review and Meta-Analysis

J Hum Lact. 2019 Aug;35(3):424-440. doi: 10.1177/0890334419851482. Epub 2019 Jun 17.


Background: International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC) are healthcare professionals who are highly trained in lactation science; however, little is known about the efficacy of IBCLC-specific support on breastfeeding outcomes.

Research aims: This systematic review and meta-analysis aimed to describe interventions containing direct support by IBCLCs during the postpartum period and to analyze the association between study characteristics and the prevalence breastfeeding outcomes.

Methods: Electronic databases were searched for studies published between January 2001 and December 2018. Meta-analysis and meta-regression were performed on studies containing breastfeeding prevalence data at 3 or 6 months postpartum.

Results: Seventeen interventions met all inclusion and exclusion criteria and eight research teams reported the prevalence of any or exclusive breastfeeding at 3 and/or 6 months. For any breastfeeding at 6 months, the pooled difference was 0.08 [0.04, 0.12] meaning we'd expect to observe 1 additional case of any breastfeeding at 6 months postpartum for every 12 women who received an IBCLC intervention, 95% CI [8, 25] rather than control conditions. Results differed depending on which outcome variable was used to measure breastfeeding and the timing of that measurement.

Conclusions: Breastfeeding interventions that include IBCLC support in the postpartum period have potential for improving breastfeeding outcomes; however, when designing interventions, the timing and method of data collection for measures of breastfeeding are instrumental to study sensitivity and need to be based on the aims of the intervention itself.

Keywords: International Board Certified Lactation Consultant; breastfeeding; breastfeeding support; lactation education; lactation management.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Feeding*
  • Consultants*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lactation*
  • Postnatal Care*