Photo courtesy of Saydi Shumway Photography.

NOTE: Our training program is currently on hiatus. Please check back soon for updates!

See Also: Training Overview and Application

Download a PDF of the Counselor Training FAQ

How do I apply?
After reading the Frequently Asked Questions, please contact us at 617-244-5102 or bacenmc@gmail.comto request a telephone interview. Download the Counselor Training Application and (following your interview) mail your completed application with a check for $45 to: BACE-NMC, 69 Court Street, Newton MA 02458. Please have your reference send your letter of recommendation separately to the same address.

When is the application deadline?
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

What will I get out of Counselor Training?
NMC’s Counselor Training program prepares you to provide culturally-sensitive volunteer breastfeeding support to mothers in your community by phone or in person, and through facilitation of mother-to-mother support groups. You will become familiar with current breastfeeding information and acquire listening and counseling skills tailored to the ways in which Nursing Mothers’ Counselors interact with nursing mothers. You will be coached on documentation skills required when working with mothers. Training will also touch on administrative skills needed to run a successful community support group.

What does a Nursing Mothers’ Counselor do?
Nursing Mothers’ Counselors provide free, current evidence-based information to women seeking information and support on breastfeeding by phone. Many also form Chapters and host free monthly Nursing Mothers’ Gatherings. Counselors must document all helping situations and communicate monthly with NMC. Counselors work in the community to empower women and their families with the knowledge, skills, and support they need to make informed choices about all aspects of the parenting journey.

What are the benefits of becoming a Counselor?
The greatest benefit to becoming a Counselor is the satisfaction of helping mothers and babies in your community gain confidence in their nursing relationship and their parenting. Once accredited, Counselors benefit from being part of a strong organization that supports them in their work.  NMC administrators are available to help with complex helping situations, continuing education, communication, publicity, and Chapter administration. When doing NMC work, a Counselor is covered by BACE general and professional liability insurance.  There are also opportunities to meet and interact with other Counselors online and in person.

Counselors can be listed on ZipMilk, the NMC web page, NMC community guide, and NMC direct phone line (on a rotating basis). They can facilitate monthly support groups (gatherings). These gatherings will be publicized on the NMC web page. Counselors also have the opportunity to mentor new Nursing Mothers’ Counselors and to participate in facilitating, organizing, or presenting at NMC training and conference events. Accredited Counselors have a vote at the annual meeting to elect the organization’s Board.

What does the training process involve?
After your application is accepted, you will attend an orientation workshop; find a Nursing Mothers’ Counselor who will be your mentor and begin meeting regularly; read and respond to books and films; familiarize yourself with NMC guidelines and practices; complete a written reflection on the organization’s values; work through a guide on the technical aspects of breastfeeding support; attend gatherings, a conference or workshop, and communication skills training; and purchase the required Counselor reference book. Once you have completed all of these steps, you and your mentor will complete a final exam consisting of a series of role plays that give you a chance to demonstrate and practice your communication style, technical skills, and documentation. The last step is to submit all the training documentation along with the accreditation fee. Your mentor will submit a recommendation separately.

How long will it take?
Training takes a minimum of 6 months, during which you will be meeting regularly with your mentor. If you take longer than 18 months, you will be asked to reapply.

How much will it cost?
The nonrefundable application fee is $45. Once you have completed your training, you will submit the training documentation with the accreditation fee of $20. To remain in good standing, Counselors must pay the annual membership fee of $40 (or $10 if you have already bought a basic BACE-NMC membership) and maintain their membership each year. That’s a total of $105 to begin the process, complete it, and become a Counselor-level member of BACE-NMC.

NMC conferences, workshops, and communications skills workshops are offered at a reduced rate to members of BACE-NMC.

Breastfeeding Answers Made Simple, the required reference book, costs $59.95 on Amazon. You may be able to find it used or at a discounted price. You must acquire the books on the required reading list independently; many are available through the public library or local NMC Chapter lending libraries. Some of the required videos are available through free streaming online, and others may be borrowed from NMC or viewed in small group settings.

What if I can’t afford it?
Usually there are some scholarship funds available. Please contact us for more information.

Do I have to attend NMC workshops and conferences?
NMC workshops, such as “Basics of Breastfeeding,” provide a solid groundwork for Counselor trainees, and advanced workshops and conferences present high-level, current information from leaders in the lactation field.  Attendance at one workshop or conference is required before accreditation.  Some scholarship assistance is available to trainees with demonstrated financial need.  In rare situations the Counselor Training Coordinator may work out alternate arrangements with a trainee who faces hardship meeting this requirement.

Are there prerequisites to apply?
We prefer you to have personal experience breastfeeding or some knowledge about breastfeeding, and enthusiasm for working with breastfeeding mothers.

I’m still not sure. How can I prepare for Counselor Training?
Before you apply, you can prepare yourself by attending local Chapter gatherings regularly. This will give you an opportunity to see breastfeeding counselors in action and to take on responsibility for an aspect of Chapter administration such as arranging local publicity, keeping track of the library, or helping plan a gathering. Getting to know local Counselors by phone, in person, and at Nursing Mothers’ Gatherings can help you form friendly relationships that can turn into a mentorship when you enter the training. We also suggest you familiarize yourself with the BACE-NMC website at Attending a NMC workshop or conference may be another way to familiarize yourself with the organization and is a good way to meet Counselors and members of the NMC leadership team. Keep your conference and workshop certificates; they are good for 18 months to fulfill the training requirement.

What if there are no Chapters or Counselors in my area?
We encourage you to become a Counselor and perhaps start your own Chapter! You can work with a mentor by phone and fulfill many of the training requirements long distance.

How accommodating is this program to diversity?
We welcome women of all cultural and linguistic backgrounds. We will make appropriate accommodations to help you complete the program, including translation of materials or locating appropriate alternative materials in your primary language, oral completion of portions of the training, and assistance finding an appropriate mentor.

We will be happy to make any accommodations you need for your physical or learning disability. The comfort and success of our trainees and Counselors is a high priority for us. We also welcome women who are employed or who care for children full-time. If you are not able to attend the in-person components, we can make alternate arrangements for you to fulfill those requirements.

What if I already have a breastfeeding credential?
If you are an IBCLC or La Leche League Leader with current certification, you may request an Application by Waiver (an accelerated accreditation process). The application is a basis for conversation with the Accreditation Committee about the experience you have had supporting mothers and babies, how you plan to volunteer within our organization, and what elements of the Counselor Training you will need to fulfill. Each application is reviewed and evaluated individually. The fee to apply is $40 and will be credited toward the first year of your annual dues upon accreditation. If your application is not accepted, you may apply for the Counselor Training program. To request a copy of the Application by Waiver or to find out more, please email NMC.

What if I have a different type of breastfeeding or health credential?
Right now only IBCLCs and La Leche League Leaders are eligible to use the Application by Waiver. The Accreditation Committee will be reviewing other breastfeeding credentials for eligibility in the future.

If you have a health credential but it is not in the area of breastfeeding, you must apply for Counselor Training and go through the program. We strongly encourage you to apply; a health background gives you an excellent foundation for the training. Our program will give you the tools you need to fully support breastfeeding women in whatever context you work with them.

Will being an Nursing Mothers’ Counselor help me towards the goal of becoming an IBCLC?
The IBLCE has moved towards accrediting only those with more formal medical education. Volunteer breastfeeding counselors will not qualify to sit the exam without a great deal of additional education. Our Counselor Training and ongoing technical support lay the groundwork for someone to do the more advanced education required. NMC conferences and workshops cover a variety of relevant topics and offer IBLCE Continuing Education Recognition Points (CERPs). In the past, IBLCE has accepted NMC contact hours towards qualification for its exam, as it has with other volunteer breastfeeding support organizations. Please contact IBLCE directly for current information on qualification pathways.

Does completing the Counselor Training guarantee that I will become accredited?
No, neither being accepted into the Counselor Training program nor completing Counselor Training guarantees accreditation as a Nursing Mothers’ Counselor. This is not a certificate program. We evaluate each trainee individually at the end of the program, using the training documentation and the final mentor recommendation to determine whether it is appropriate to award accreditation. In addition to making sure your application is complete, our assessment of your attitudes, approach, and handling of sensitive topics will weigh heavily in the final decision.

How do I renew my credential?
Counselors must submit annual evidence that they are maintaining updated breastfeeding education and meeting NMC reporting requirements. At least 6 breastfeeding related Continuing Education Units (CEUs) must be obtained yearly. Counselors also must remain in good standing by paying annual dues of $40.

How can I find out more?
Please contact the Counselor Training Coordinator with questions at


NMC Counselor Resources



Breast Feeding Conference 2016



BACE-NMC Mission, Vision & Core Values