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Marie’s Predictions for Topics on the Upcoming IBLCE Exam

Everyone is anxious about the topics that are on the upcoming IBLCE Exam. I have no inside information, and no crystal ball. But I sat down the other day and asked myself: What is my best guess for what will be on the upcoming IBLCE Exam?

I came up with a list of 10 topics that I predict will be on the upcoming exam.

1. Safe sleep, co-bedding

I do not think we will be required to recommend for or against it. Instead, I believe the question will come more along the lines of what you would tell parents to help them implement practices that would constitute safe sleep.

First, listen to my interview with Diana West, IBCLC. Afterwards, try to memorize the Safe Sleep Seven Song. I’m serious! Poetry and music work because they are effective tools for helping people to remember a list of facts.  

2. Paced (bottle)feeding

Paced feeding could pertain to any feeding device, but usually, it’s about bottle-feeding.

If you’re an exam-taker, be prepared for any who-what-when-why or how question. Be prepared. The Breastfeeding Atlas covers this well in a chapter that deals with feeding devices.

3. Emergency preparedness

Again, The Breastfeeding Atlas covered this fairly well in Chapter 15. You might also want to listen to my interview with Dr. Karleen Gribble. Dr. Gribble is arguably the top international authority on this topic, as it relates to breastfeeding. I have also developed a self-learning program on this topic if you want to earn credits for your nursing license, or CERPs to maintain your lactation certification.

4. Skin-to-skin contact or kangaroo mother care

Skin-to-skin contact, roughly equivalent to kangaroo mother care (KMC), is something that I think will be on the IBLCE Exam for the next several years. KMC is a practice that offers multiple benefits, and no known risks.

I thoroughly enjoyed my interviews Dr. Nils Bergman, and Dr. Susie Ludington. Each is a giant in this field, and well worth listening to.

5. Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative

Don’t waste your time memorizing the Ten Steps. Instead, look at how the program would be initiated at your hospital. For example, in what cases might it be permissible to supplement a newborn? What must you include in your policy if you have an outpatient clinic?

6. LGBTQIA community

To better serve your clients — as well as give competent clinical care — you’ll need to increase your knowledge of sexual orientation (SO) or attraction, and gender identity (GI), and how the client identifies with and experiences the world.

I’m guessing that questions related to LGBTQ will relate to two aspects of your role. First, communication (e.g., using inclusive or gender-neutral language), and second, using familiar strategies and techniques (e.g., using a nursing supplementer) in a non-familiar way.  

It may be helpful for you to listen to my interview with Kathleen McCue.

7. Hand expression

I’ve always thought that hand expression is fair game for the IBLCE exam. There are so many myths about hand expression. Before you go to the exam, be sure to separate fact from fiction, and you might want to listen to my interview with Francie Webb.  

8. Biological nurturing

When Breastfeeding Outlook published a quarterly hard-copy newsletter, I gave a summary of Suzanne Colson’s just-released study on biological nurturing. At the time, I said it was the best study I had read in a decade. Further, I predicted that the study would be relevant a decade or two later. It’s now a decade later, and the study’s impact on breastfeeding is still very apparent.

You definitely might want to listen to my most interesting interview with researcher Suzanne Colson.

9. Milk sharing, cross-nursing, community-shared milk

Any informal arrangement to share milk can be loosely referred to by any of these terms. All mean that the baby is getting milk from a mother other than the woman who bore him. It might be the milk is being expressed and fed in a bottle, or it might be that the baby is suckling the breasts of more than one woman. In either case, there is no “formal” mechanism. My interview with Emma Kwasnica discusses about modern milk sharing programs and networks.

10. The gut and breastfeeding

We are learning so much about how the newborn’s gut. That means the kinds of microorganisms he is exposed to during labor, birth, and breastfeeding. It also means knowing how gut hormones (and other hormone-like substances) are important for the breastfed infant.

Natalie Shenker and I touched on this topic a recent podcast.

Again, no crystal ball. But I hope you find these suggestions of what topics I believe will be on the upcoming IBLCE Exam helpful.

What topics are anxious about on the upcoming exam? What topics do you feel most confident about? Tell me in the comments below!

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  1. Cheri B Brooker

    Good morning! I take the exam on April 1st and have been reviewing your materials and taking the practice exams. Is there any additional resources for interpreting charts, graphs, and diagrams. For example, knowing what axis tells the date?

    Thank you.


    • Marie Biancuzzo

      Cheri, good question. The charts, diagrams etc. are all, as I like to say, “fair game” for the exam. But unfortunately, I’ve never found a quick-n-easy way to get a grip on how to interpret this kind of graphic media. I believe the IBLCE’s assumption is that you’ve learned that in your Research course or Statistics course. (NOT your lactation course.) When I teach my “Picture Perfect” course live, I do go through a bunch of graphs, but I just kind of “know” this material. I can’t say I’ve ever seen a succinct, user-friendly, quick guide.

      But please, DO subscribe (if you haven’t already!) and read the upcoming posts. I have written all of the March posts with the intention of helping people like you to spiff up on exam-type material!

      Thanks for the question, and for following my posts!

    • Marie Biancuzzo

      Oh, sorry, I missed the part about the axis. Here is a simple mnemonic I use for myself. “Y is high, to the sky.” That means that the Y axis goes up and down. Therefore, the x axis goes right to left.The only place I’ve ever seen a date is on the X axis.

      Thanks, and stay tuned!

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