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.

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 whole blog post to answer it! The short answer is in many cases, yes, but this may depend on your geographic area. Please check out the post for much more in-depth information!

Is this an accredited training program?

North Carolina State University is an accredited institution of higher education. We have also received approval from the Lactation Education Accreditation and Approval Review Committee (LEAARC) for our 110-hour educational program, consisting of our two foundational courses: Breastfeeding and Public Health, and Clinical Breastfeeding Support.

Does the program cover all the topics I need to be prepared to sit the IBCLC exam?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

Where can I find a detailed outline of what is covered in the courses?

Detailed course descriptions and sample lessons for each course:

Breastfeeding and Public Health

Clinical Breastfeeding Support

Ready to get started? Register here

Still have questions? Contact us!