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How to Find the Right Lactation Education Course

Before you buy a comprehensive lactation course, shop carefully. As a former consumer of such a course, and now as the developer and presenter of a comprehensive course, here are the questions I would ask myself when looking for and buying the right lactation education course.

Will IBLCE recognize this course for my application?

From the IBLCE website, “IBLCE does not offer, approve, or accredit lactation education designed to prepare candidates for the certification examination. Nor does IBLCE recommend or endorse any particular programme or course in lactation education.”

IBLCE has only one criterion that I’m aware of: The exam applicant must have completed 95 hours of lactation-specific education, and 5 of those hours must be specific to communication skills. That’s all!

My course goes way beyond those requirements. But just having your 95 hours (including the communication component) is enough to be recognized. 

Will this course help me to pass the IBCLC exam?

Let’s face it, folks. When you’re shopping for the right lactation education course, this question is front and center on your mind, even though the exam is a long way off.

In 2019, 31.5% of first-time test-takers failed the IBCLC exam. No one wants to be in that statistic.

Will this course teach me something I didn’t already know?

What you learn in a comprehensive course and what you’ve learned in everyday clinical life is not necessarily the same.

I took a comprehensive course as a pre-requisite to sitting for the IBCLC exam for the first time. And honestly, I passed the exam by a whisker.

No one prepared me for the fact that the exam asked me questions about situations I had never seen in real life. (And as an advanced practice nurse, I had been helping breastfeeding mothers for 8 years before I took the IBCLC exam.)

Even now, after having taken the IBCLC exam 5 times, I always get a few questions I did not see coming. (And I turn around and integrate those concepts into my updated comprehensive course!)

The right lactation education course will teach you information you didn’t already know and get you to dive deeper into topics.

Will this course provide me with feedback?

If you put your hand on a hot stove, you’ll get feedback: It hurts! If you take a course with learning exercises and built-in questions, you can see if you’re unable to give an answer, or if the answer you gave is wrong. That’s feedback!

Most people overlook the importance of feedback when looking for the right lactation education course. Yet, how can anyone learn without it?

I admit, it’s not easy to integrate active learning strategies into an online course. It can be done, and each year, with all my courses, I’ve done a little better integrating active learning strategies. That’s because I know that learning exercises, content-related questions, and other learning activities provide feedback. I’d like to believe my online lactation course offers more feedback than others out there. 

Does this course focus on what you need to know to pass?

I’ve been preparing people for the IBCLC exam since 1993. In my experience, most people assume they know what will be on the exam.

They don’t have a clue.

You don’t want to spend your time studying (or memorizing!) stuff that is not fair game for the exam. The right lactation education course will help you focus on what you really need to know.

IBLCE gives you only 175 questions. But they own tons of questions, and they are inventing more each year. I don’t know how many test items are in IBLCE’s test databank — I’d conservatively guess 10,000. (I have nearly 4,000 test items in my own databank and I only started cataloguing those items about 10 years ago!)

That means they will pick 175 for your exam . But you must be prepared for all 10,000 — or however many they have available to choose from.

Hence, you don’t want to waste time studying material that you don’t need to know.

Will this course give you confidence?

When you finish the course, you need to feel like you can charge into that test center, full of vim, vigor, and vitality! Ready to tackle the 175 items!

Read to slay the dragon! That’s the feeling you’ll need, believe me! 

Choose expert, experienced faculty

A woman asked for my help. She failed the IBCLC exam last year. She said she took a 95-hour course, and she told me the name of the company/instructor. Hmmmm. I’ve been in this business for more than 25 years and I had never heard of the company, the course, or the instructor.

Pick a course developer/presenter who has taken the IBCLC exam many times first-hand and prepared many people from all corners of the globe. This is a comprehensive, career-critical exam. Use a proven course.  

Final thoughts

Notice I didn’t say “price” as a criterion. The reputable, long-running courses are priced similarly. But here’s the key point: I’ve seen people fail the exam, and later, pay for the course that actually gets them through the exam. Kathleen G, a midwife from Mystic CT, completed my course and said:

I did a different comprehensive course online and this course made me realize how bad and useless that class was.”

~Kathleen (Mystic, CT)

Remember that the aim is not to sit for the exam. The aim is to pass the exam, and to build a firm foundation for your future. Choosing the right lactation education course is the first step.

When I work with parents who are deciding how to feed their baby, I give them the facts, but tell them it’s their decision. Of course, I want them to pick breastfeeding for their little one.

Here, I’ve tried to help you become informed, and help you to make your own decision.

Yet, I honestly believe you’ll get a solid preparation for the exam and for your future practice if you buy my 95-hour comprehensive online lactation course

As you try to find the right Lactation Education Course for yourself, what next step will you make?  

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