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Closing the Gap and Meeting the Education Requirement for Taking the IBCLC Exam

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It may seem daunting when you begin meeting education requirements for taking the IBCLC exam. Many people make it to the halfway mark easily. But then what? And some people wonder how to get from 45 credits to the 95 that are required to take the IBCLC exam.

What’s best for one person may not be best — or even possible — for another. But there are some questions that can help you decide the best approach to closing that 45-95 gap, for you.

What is your tolerance for risk?

It’s easy to focus on the “95” number and engage in a countdown to application readiness. But IBLCE didn’t choose “95” without reason. This is the number of hours of education that IBLCE has calculated it takes to be exposed to the range of topics you’ll need to know for the exam (and, subsequently, practice as an IBCLC).

How have you already prepared?

Consider where you stand in terms of readiness to tackle all those topics. Are you half prepared? Half unprepared?

Registering for the exam as a first-time test-taker costs hundreds of dollars. You’ll want to be sure that you’re ready to pass the exam, and not end up as one of the hundreds of first-timers who typically fail it each year.

What are your goals?

It can be tempting to think of completing those 95 hours as simply “checking the box.” It can seem to make sense to try to meet this numeric goal in the easiest, fastest, or cheapest way possible.

That may get you the 95 you need for meeting education requirements for taking the IBCLC exam. But it probably won’t get you the 95 hours of education you need to pass it. If your goal is to pass, you’ll want to take advantage of one of the available comprehensive lactation courses, such as one I offer.

My goal is to help you pass the exam and be ready for the career to follow. The best way I know to do that is with a 95-hour course. A next-best choice is to take my 45-hour course. Both come with many multiple-choice questions to make sure you’ve learned what you need to succeed, not just gone over some information.

If you want to pass the IBCLC exam on the first try, and to build a strong foundation for your lactation practice as you prepare for the exam, you’ll want to consider a review course.

There is no single answer to “What’s the best way to get from 45 to 95?” But keep in mind that getting the 95 isn’t the goal — it’s one marker along the way to your ultimate finish line: Passing the IBCLC exam on the first try and getting on to your work in the lactation field.

Do you still have questions about meeting education requirements for taking the IBCLC exam or closing the gap from 45 to 95? Contact my office at and we’ll help you!

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  1. Euphemia John

    After 20 years as an IBCLC, I had to let it go. I became an IBCLC in 1998 before the Health Science requirements. I was aware of the requirements becoming effective, but it was just too much to go back and get them. I thought I would be retired and I didn’t want to take the test again. I’m working as a Lactation Consult without the IBCLC because there is no one that is working with these moms. I supervise 2 Peer Counselor and we try to cover the area of lactation. It’s a sad situation.

    • Marie Biancuzzo

      I’m not sure I understand your situation. I’m hearing you say you were certified in 1998. Okay, but are you thinking you need to complete the Health Science Courses? Recertification requires three things: (1) basic life support (2) clinical hours, and (3) successful passing of the exam, or completion of 75 CERPs. If your IBCLC hasn’t already expired, you might want to consider this.

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