FAQs About Online Lactation Education

How do I become a lactation consultant?

The route to becoming an IBCLC can be confusing at first! Your final word should always be the website of the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE). They set the standards and policies for IBCLC training, examination, and certification. Here’s a flowsheet they put together to help people navigate through the Pathways to certification. You can also read through our overview of all the pathways and/or attend one of our live or prerecorded webinars.

I'm a nurse/physician/nurse practitioner OR I have no health care background - where do I start?

What are the IBLCE Pathways to certification? Are NC State's courses right for the Pathway that I plan to do?

Pathway 1 is for health care professionals or recognized peer support counselors, who obtain at least 1000 hours of lactation-specific clinical experience through paid or volunteer time. Our course is an excellent fit for those completing Pathway 1. Read more here about Pathway 1 for peer supporters or for health care professionals.

Pathway 2 programs are comprehensive college-based academic programs that include both lactation-specific education and clinical experience. We are not a Pathway 2 program currently; you may find a list of Pathway 2 programs here.

In Pathway 3, lactation-specific clinical experience is obtained through mentorship with a practicing IBCLC. Our program is an excellent fit for those completing Pathway 3, as long as they feel confident they can or have found mentorship that will allow them to complete their clinical hours as well. We offer Pathway 3 mentorship opportunities through NCSU, but please note it is a small, competitive program which requires students to take both semesters for credit (not as continuing education), and to take the second semester course on campus (not online). For more information about our on-campus Pathway 3 program, contact us.

For more comprehensive information, check out our overview of all the pathways

Can I find work as a lactation consultant if I am not a nurse?

This is such a common question that we wrote a blog post about it! In many cases, yes, but this may depend on your geographic area. If you are concerned about whether you will be able to find work as an IBCLC without being a registered nurse (RN), reach out to the lactation community in your area. They will be able to give you a better idea of work options for hospitals, outpatient offices, and private practice for RNs and non-RNs. See the blog post for more details.

Is this an accredited training program?

North Carolina State University is an accredited institution of higher education. We have also received Lactation Education Accreditation and Approval Review Committee (LEAARC) course approval.

Does the program cover all the topics I need to be prepared to take the IBCLC exam? Will it satisfy the IBLCE 90-hour education requirement?

Yes. The program is divided into two courses.

Part 1: Breastfeeding and Public Health, which covers topics from the IBLCE Exam Detailed Content Outline, including many topics from Psychology, Sociology, and Anthropology; Ethical and Legal Issues; Research; Development and Nutrition, and Public Health Advocacy.

Part 2: Clinical Breastfeeding Support covers the remaining topics from the Content Outline including Physiology and Endocrinology; Pathology; Pharmacology and Toxicology; Techniques; and Clinical Lactation Skills.

Note that topics are not strictly split between courses, but the above should serve as a general idea of what is covered in each half of the program. Our course satisfies the IBLCE requirements for 90 hours of lactation-specific education, as well as 5 hours of communication skills. We have also received Lactation Education Accreditation and Approval Review Committee (LEAARC) course approval.

Why are the courses 55 hours each, instead of 45 hours?

While IBLCE requires a minimum of 90 hours of lactation specific clinical education, keep in mind that is only a minimum. To cover the material we consider to be part of a comprehensive lactation education program, we have found additional time is needed. We believe our students will benefit! Also included in our courses are the 5 hours of communication skills that will be required for those applying to sit the exam starting in April 2021.

Are the 5 hours of required communication skills included?

IBLCE has a new requirement beginning in 2021 for students to complete 5 hours of education specifically on communication skills. We have built those into our program at no extra cost to you!

Should I take both courses together, or one after the other?

Breastfeeding and Public Health (or an equivalent) is recommended to be completed before you register for Clinical Breastfeeding Support. This gives you the maximum amount of time to complete each course.

I have already completed some of my lactation education hours. Can I take only one of the courses? If so, which one should I take?

Breastfeeding and Public Health (or an equivalent) is recommended to be completed before Clinical Breastfeeding Support. If you're interested in enrolling directly into Clinical Breastfeeding Support, or would like to discuss your needs further, feel free to contact us

What is the start date for the courses?

Your start date is whenever you are ready! As these are all-online, self-paced courses, our registration is always open. You may begin whenever is most convenient for you.

How long will I have access to each course?

6 months from the time you enroll in the individual course. Keep in mind that our students enrolled for academic credit complete the course in approximately 3.5 months, so you may work at an even slower pace, and still complete it in the time available.

Can I go back and review the course more than once?

Absolutely! You can revisit any part of the course within the 6-month window.

Can I do the course on a tablet or phone?

You can access the course via our course platform, Moodle, on any device with a browser. However, a phone sized screen is not ideal for viewing course slides and completing assignments.

What is the cost for the courses?

As NC State is a public university with an extension mission, we have tried to set our costs at the low end of the range of similar courses. The fee for each course is $400, so the entire program is $800 total. Note that this includes the 5 hours of IBLCE-required communications skills education at no extra cost to you.

Are there additional costs to the course?

There are some additional books you will require for each course. We believe these are books you will find indispensable in your practice as a lactation consultant, so they are an investment in your long-term library. Supplementary readings will be posted on the course website and are included in the course fee.

Required Course Materials for Breastfeeding and Public Health
  • Core Curriculum for Interdisciplinary Lactation Care, Editors Suzanne Hetzel Campbell, Judith Lauwers, and Rebecca Mannel, 1st Edition, 2018, ISBN 9781284111163, ~$100
  Required Course Materials for Clinical Breastfeeding Support
  • Breastfeeding and Human Lactation, Editors Karen Wambach, and Jan Riordan 6th Edition, ~$135
  • Breastfeeding Atlas, by Barbara Wilson-Clay, and Kay Hoover, 6th Edition, 2016, ISBN 9780967275840, ~$80

Do you offer a discount for military servicemembers or their spouses?

We offer a 15% discount on our courses for military servicemembers and their spouses. To obtain the discount, please e-mail us so we can verify your status and give you the discount code.

Do I need to apply to your program, and/or do I need to apply to NC State to take your classes?

If you would like to start our lactation courses as continuing education (not for credit), no application is necessary - to us or to the university. You can sign up and begin right now! If you would like to take the courses for academic credit, you will need to apply to NC State as a non-degree student. Please contact us if you are interested in this option. In terms of cost, taking the courses for credit is usually a good option only for those who are already completing a degree program for which you can use this credit (or if you have tuition benefits through your current employer that may only be used for credit-bearing courses).

Should I take the courses for academic credit, or as continuing education?

Whether you take the courses for academic credit or as continuing education, they will count as your required lactation-specific education to become an IBCLC. In terms of cost, taking the courses for academic credit is usually a good option only for those who are already completing a degree program for which you can use this credit (or if you have tuition benefits through your current employer that may only be used for credit-bearing courses). For all others, cost will be significantly lower taking the courses as continuing education. If you would like to take the courses for academic credit, you will need to apply to NC State as a non-degree student. Please contact us if you are interested in this option.

Do I need to complete the Health Sciences education requirements before beginning your program?

You do not need to have completed the Health Sciences education before beginning our courses. If you'd like more information on those courses, check out our post on understanding the health sciences requirements.

Do you offer the Health Sciences education courses?

Our current program at MILK focuses on IBLCE’s required lactation-specific education, including communication skills, required by IBLCE – not on the health sciences prerequisites. As a large university, all the prerequisite courses can of course be completed at NC State – this likely makes the most sense if you are a currently enrolled NC State student. See our post on understanding the health sciences requirements to learn about options for completing those courses.

Does this course offer a credential like a lactation educator or counselor? Do I need to complete a course like that in order to become an IBCLC?

We provide a certificate of completion after you complete each of our two courses. Our focus is on helping students prepare for the IBCLC exam and profession. For that reason, and because a basic certification does not necessarily help students move down the pathway to IBCLC, at this time we don’t see a compelling reason to offer an additional certification or “letters” to put next to your name. Read more about our thinking and the topic of basic lactation credentials topic here.

Do you offer CMEs, CNEs, or other professional continuing education credits?

Yes! Wake AHEC designates each course for a maximum of:

- 55.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™ (Continuing Medical Education)

- 55.0 Nursing Contact Hours (Continuing Nursing Education)

- 55.0 CPEU from the Commission on Dietetic Registration

- 5.5 Continuing Education Units (CEU)

- 55.0 Contact Hours

Both courses together total a maximum of 110 hours of continuing education credit.

Ready to get started? Register here

Still have questions? Contact us!